The sad truth: sexism is still alive and well in nightclubs

Have you experienced situations in nightclubs that would be seen as outrageous in any other place? Do you find yourself becoming simply desensitised to casual acts of sexism on your Friday night out? You’ll be hard pushed to find a girl who hasn’t been at the receiving end of the objectification or even outright sexual harassment on a night out, and the most depressing and shocking part is we almost begin to accept it as part of being female. Sexism in nightclubs is still alive and well.

If the sexism isn’t coming directly from people in the club, or nightclub staff themselves, it is often directly integrated into the nightclub business and promotion. Many event nights, even Student Union nights, are using advertisements that are outright promoting the objectification of women; some clubs even have “pimps and hoes” themed nights, which merely perpetuates lad culture. But much worse, here is an advert that was used for a Cardiff Met Student Union night that features the words “I was raping a woman last night, and she cried” – these are all clear sign that many nightclubs around the UK are outright promoting rape culture in their advertisements.

If clubs choose to promote and run their businesses in such sexist ways, is there any wonder that women are regularly being harassed in the nightclubs themselves? I spoke to some of my peers to find out their experiences on the topic. Something that seems particularly common is misogynistic behaviour from nightclub bouncers themselves, and some of the anecdotes I received are nothing short of shocking.

“One bouncer told me that if I flashed him, I’d receive free entry”.

Another very common promotional plea used by nightclubs is to offer women free entry. It’s shocking that in 2018, this is still commonplace – it’s anti-equality, it objectifies women, it segregates those who identify as different genders, and it sends a completely wrong message to students.

One of the most common ways women are made to feel uncomfortable in nightclubs is how people treat them based on what they are dressed in. From being told what you’re wearing is not appropriate, to being outright harassed, most of us have experienced this.

“I was in a nightclub wearing a skirt that was a completely acceptable length at around mid-thigh. A male bouncer was watching me, and I saw him whisper to a female bouncer, who then came and told me I had to pull my skirt down. It made me feel self-conscious, and it ruined my night”.

Another girl told me about a shocking incident on the dancefloor:

“I was wearing a halter-neck crop top that tied at the back, and a boy came up from behind and undid my top in the middle of the nightclub”.

Some experiences are less obvious cases of sexism, but they still create an inappropriate atmosphere. Although they might seem like insignificant details, casual sexism or promotion of lad culture can be all it takes to make girls feel highly uncomfortable and even scared on nights out.

“As we were approaching the club, the bouncers came up to us and told us to come in without ID-ing us, which was disconcerting in itself. Then they made us feel highly uncomfortable with a number of odd comments while we were inside, such as “Didn’t find your boyfriends in there?”, so we left not long after.”

These experiences of sexism in nightclubs are so commonplace that female students are becoming almost desensitised to it. But that should not be the case. Women shouldn’t have to be subject to the ongoing objectification on every single night out – we deserve to enjoy our Friday night out in peace, without being grabbed against our consent, without being told what we are wearing is unacceptable, and without feeling afraid about our safety.

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