As I enter into my second year at University, I have already experienced my fair share of nights out. However, I can’t help but feel like far too often the club culture that we experience is nothing more than a backwards step for modern feminism.
One of the biggest factors that leads me to this conclusion, is the dress codes that clubs employ. I understand that clubs have an image that they want to preserve and as long as people continue to be judged on their appearance, clothing matters.
However, in my investigation of the online dress code policies of several clubs in Edinburgh, I have found that they are extremely vague. One describes their weekday policy as “smart casual” and their weekend policy as “upscale casual”. It is very difficult to fully determine what this actually means. They are failing to indicate that some bouncers may decide to let you skip the queue based on how you are dressed – as has been experienced by myself and my friends. Another club website reminds its customers to “dress to impress”. Yet they don’t indicate that bouncers may turn women away if they aren’t wearing heels, as I have witnessed before.
As I said, I do recognised that clubs have an image that they want to preserve. However, the everyday sexism that is disguised in these dress codes is frankly obscene. High heels immediately put women at a disadvantage if they have to try and quickly leave a situation. I do not think that the safety and security of young women should be put at risk for the sake of club owners’ pockets.
And this danger faced by women is rife on the modern-day clubbing scene; the normalisation of casual sexual harassment in clubs is disgusting. I do not understand how some men think that women dancing is a green card for sexual and sometimes verbal assault. I cannot think of a single night out where I or one of my friends has not been sexually harassed by strangers on the dance floor.
When a women complains to a bouncer about this harassment, it is often she who is forced to leave the club on the grounds that she is “too drunk” or “causing a disturbance”. Forcing a woman to leave when she is clearly very vulnerable, intoxicated or not, is a prime example of victim blaming.
I wonder if the backward traditions that accompany club culture may link to this casual harassment in clubs. ‘Shot girls’ are women who walk around the club trying to sell shots to customers on the dance floor. The way they are made to dress and the way they are told to act suggests to me that they are trying to sell these drinks through sexual appeal. If you want to read about what this sort of job is really like, then just google ‘shot girl’ and have a read of some first-hand experiences.
So, what is the solution to these problems? I have to say a lot of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of club managers and owners. Firstly, the sexist dress code practices need to be abolished. If you aren’t going to make men wear heels then why are you forcing women to? Secondly, proper procedure needs to be implemented in order to ensure that perpetrators of sexual harassment do not get to remain in clubs. Victims should never be blamed. And finally, shot girls deserve, at the very least, respect from all club goers alike.
Without these changes it is inarguable that club culture is a step back for modern feminism.