You know what I would absolutely be into if it actually lived up to its name? "Ladies' Night." A night? For ladies? Where Spanx-less gals can congregate and drink and gab and not worry about wandering fingers penetrating us on the dance floor because we were silly enough to leave the house with hair and legs on? Oh, wouldn't that be nice. I don't care much about drink specials and waived cover charges, but if you want to save me some bucks I won't be mad about it. Yay, Ladies Night! It's just like the Korean spa, but with more slow-motion-Butterflying to Ginuwine.
Unfortunately, "Ladies' Night" isn't real—it's actually a euphemism for "Here's a Bribe So You'll Enter Our Meat Market and Serve as Bait for Sweaty Creeps with Dry Boners, We Swear This Is Not a Rape Cave, See, Don't You Like Candles Night (No Fatties)." Sure, women don't have to pay to get in, but the implication is that we'll pay in other ways (vagina-bucks!!!). Fuck all of that.
So, no, I'm not super jazzed about the new trend of "female-friendly restaurants"—steakhouses and sports bars that "cater" to feminine tastes in an effort to stock the place with hot drunk chicks. In other words, a bait-and-switch. It's Ladies' Night as a permanent business model. It might be a smart business decision (I know that plenty of women outside of my magic progressive bubble do like shit like that), but that doesn't mean it's a healthy one. Via Jessica Sidman in Washington City Paper:
It's one thing to distance steakhouses and sports bars from the realm of old boys clubs and guys' nights out. But small plates and sexy décor? If this is what these restaurants believe women want, their target audience should be insulted. In their attempts to appeal to women, restaurants like STK end up condescending to them.
Then again, STK and its ilk aren't really about appealing to women, anyway. They're about using women to attract men. "We wanted to create an environment where girls can go and party," says Devon Mosley, marketing and PR director of The ONE Group, the hospitality company which owns STK. "Truly, our CEO's mentality is where the girls go to play, the men will follow." (No surprise: The CEO, Jonathan Segal, is a man.)
There's something deeply creepy about co-opting the idea of a safe space for women and turning it into a space where women are put on display for male consumption. Instead of tiptoeing outside their comfort zones, men can stay in the same old haunts—steak houses, sports bars—and have women imported under the guise of female empowerment. This isn't a safe space for women—it's a safe space for men. Because we all know how fragile the horny male ego can be. It's like fucking Hansel and Gretel—"Oh, here's this house made of cookies, come inside! PSYCH, IT'S A WITCH'S OVEN. YOU'RE FOOD NOW." It's like Sylvester and Tweety Bird. Wasn't Sylvester always disguising his mouth to look like a cozy bird livingroom? So Tweety would go in it and take a nap on the mouth-couch and then CHOMP.
How dumb do you think we are? You think we don't know you're trying to chomp us? Sidman again:
Even more offensive is the idea that what women want is a place for men to hit on them. "It's for the crowd that wants that sleek sexy flirtatious experience," says STK's Mosley. Purple, cream, and black are the dominant colors, and the stools at the bars are elevated, making them "very easy to walk up to and make conversation." The booths are curved and open to each other, "so that everyone is facing each other." Rather than a restaurant that caters to women-whatever that means-STK appears to have been designed as a pickup playground. It may not be your daddy's steakhouse, but it's definitely your sugar daddy's steakhouse.
Excuse me, do you know where I could dispose of an Atlantic Ocean's worth of barf?
In case it isn't clear, because this argument comes up every time women dare object to being objectified, there is nothing wrong with men and women having casual sex. There is nothing wrong with men hitting on women, if it's done respectfully. There is nothing wrong with objectification, even, if it's consensual. The problem lies in coercion, and coercion can be subtle.
When women enter a space like Ladies' Night, in high heels and in possession of breasts, the implied contract is that they are willing to be picked up in exchange for minor discounts. Sure, you could argue that women—who, as I mentioned earlier, are not complete dumbfucks—are gaming the system (and the dudes) if they accept the free stuff, dance it up, and then go home alone. Gotcha! Puberty was just Phase One of my long-con to acquire 2-3 watery gin & tonics and a finger in my buttcrack! SUCCESS.
But in that environment, the drinks and the cover aren't free. The real price is getting hit on, groped, and ogled all night, and then being called a frigid bitch if you don't put out. Dudes waste their money, women feel like shit, and some creep in a shiny suit makes a profit. Lose-lose-win. And that, slimy restaurant execs, is your business model. You guys are gross. Just sell me a steak and leave my vagina out of it.