Twenty-one year old college student Jordan Ramos enjoys the same ill-advised things that her fellow University of Iowa students enjoy — going to bars in downtown Iowa City, drinking a little bit, climbing up onto things, and dancing on them while other people go "WOOO!" So when bouncers at a local establishment barred her from climbing up on a platform with her friends, Ramos mulled filing a complaint with the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, claiming the bar routinely discriminates against women based on their weight. I get that there are crappy elements to this story — the bar's implied "no fat chicks" policy is obnoxious, but predictable — but this is a perfect example of a battle that does not need to be fought. No one needs to climb up on things in bars and dance around while drunk people yell stuff at them. No need to involve the Human Rights Commission. No matter what the Beastie Boys told you, the right to party is not a right worth fighting for.
Iowa City's Union Bar sounds like your typical college makeout party dive, from the platform overlooking the dancefloor to the smirking asshole bouncers who act like they're manning the velvet rope at Marquee circa 4 years ago. I can almost feel my shoes sticking to the floors as I leave the place at 1 am without saying goodbye to my friends ("the Irish Goodbye" aka "every weekend from 2001 to 2005"). It's a place for bad decisions, like the decision to climb up on a platform overlooking the dance floor with your friends and humping the air to a Lil Wayne/Katy Perry mashup.
Ramos first went to the bar in early March, and was denied the opportunity to dance on the establishment's platform while her friends were able to climb up and air dance away. She talked to a social worker about the incident, and the social worker encouraged Ramos to return and again attempt to table dance. She did, and says she was denied for being "pregnant" and "not pretty enough." The University of Iowa's Women's Action and Resource Center isn't surprised by Ramos' claim that the bar discriminates against women it deems not attractive enough to gyrate before the masses, and a spokesperson from the Center told the Press-Citizen that similar things had happened to other women of size who had attempted the same feat.
Okay, getting told you're not pretty at a bar sucks, and being singled out from your friends is crappy. But getting the Human Rights Commission involved here is the wrong thing to do, as Human Rights Commissions shouldn't be in the business of making sure people of all shapes and sizes have equal opportunity to break their face after drunkenly falling off a beer-soaked bar platform. Out of all the things to be concerned about, whether or not everyone is uniformly able to possibly hurt or humiliate themselves should be about item number #9234128 on its priority list. Was Ramos denied service because of her size? Was she denied entry to the bar? Was she made to stand on the platform while patrons pointed and laughed? Was she paid unfairly due to her size, or was she denied a job because of the way she looks? No. I cannot get an outrage boner about this.
Further, (and I realize that I'm going to sound like my mother here, but I don't care because my mother is awesome) caring about having equal access to the sort of approval one is given at a bar is a disturbing symptom of how much we've allowed shitty bro privilege to dictate girls' value systems well into adulthood. Girls Gone Wild-style coerced public displays of the female body are not only normal, but aspirational. No one even needs to ask for it anymore. We just give it. And if we aren't allowed to give it, we go to the Human Rights Commission. Talk about fucked up.
Fighting for equal platform dancing rights means we believe that dancing on platforms in bars is important. And— I can't stress this enough — it's really, really not.
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