Empowering women can be very difficult when there are numerous misogynistic obstacles in the way of us embracing our true selves. Nightlife presents many of these obstacles, often providing a generous dose of sexist values in dress codes, entry conditions and their trusty promoters.
Minding my own business walking down Oxford Street one day, I was approached by a couple of people, they said they loved my look and wanted to know what I did for a living. Slightly sceptical, I was vague and said I studied fashion. One of them drew out a business card and an iPad and showed me an entertainment company website he owned. He didn’t explain the company clearly but the gist I got was that they were promoters who organised tables and drinks for people on their books such as fashion students, performers, media influencers etc.
Promoters and Gender Discrimination:
Foolishly after being asked for my email address and number so he could send through more information, I gave him those details. I guess I thought “hey I have nothing to lose, I can always ignore the messages or let them know I want to opt out.”
Since then, 2 years ago, I have received texts most days either stating upcoming events or simply asking me if I was okay and wanted to come through with my girls that night. I found the texts slightly annoying as time went by and almost seedy. But, I continued to just ignore them. During that time, I met other promoters who operated very differently and were genuinely friendly. These were more appropriate and less annoying relations. However, I still found that it was almost out of the question to bring guys with me.
Without going too much into this, these clubs’ gender values and blatant misogyny are obvious when you weigh out their expectations for men to pay, and for women to show up in their numbers, dolled up. My first night in a west-end club we arrived and the room was full of girls, all sat pretty, with low music on. Then the paying guys arrived, the music went up and the drinks were handed to us. I haven’t been taken advantage of as such, but I did feel like a piece of meat that night and very objectified, simple as.
The people on the door of these clubs are notorious for not accepting entry if you don’t meet their standards but I proceeded with an open mind. The first few times they were pleasant, but on these nights we had dressed to the nines- hair did, nails did, make up, lashes, dresses, heels. Obviously, their aim was to create a good visual for all the guys paying CRAZY amounts of money for tables. The clubs provided the eye candy.
On one occasion we decided to dress more like ourselves. We went, still looking dressed up, just more alternatively. The woman on the door took one look at me and said “no girls not tonight.” When I asked if there was an issue, she answered with a laugh and said “not tonight darling, go home.” After our promoter spoke with her, he informed us of her opinion on our outfits and hair. It was alarming to me that these door hosts were usually women, misogynistic women?! Even when in these clubs it felt like a competition, and there was tension between the women there. At LAPP, we believe in women being the best source of empowerment for themselves, as I’m sure many other true feminists do, and these atmospheres do anything but encourage women to be supportive and love themselves.
More recently, I was trying to organise a night for my birthday with friends. I messaged several promoters to see what my options were – which is normal for their contacts to do. The company I mentioned at the start, well they had a very different approach.
I simply asked which club they had a table at on a certain date and they assumed I was confirming imminently. A Whatsapp group was made with various numbers in I did not recognise and they told me to add all of my friends’ contact details in order for the organisation to work well. I was patronised and told I should just let my guy friends sort out themselves. I was so angry, I said I wouldn’t be using them because I treat all my friends equally. BUT, they constantly texted me for the next few days and even now every so often asking me to add my friends and saying I need to cut ties with any other promoters I know.
I told them I wouldn’t be giving them their details as 1. They are not my details to give and 2. I knew they were only going to get the same daily texts I was wanting rid of. They kept texting so I had to block all of the numbers. That didn’t stop them, they then messaged me on another number. I replied and blocked. (See below for message).
It is very disheartening when you want to assume someone has your best interest at heart but this company was simply invasive, rude, persistent and frankly off-putting. Not to mention the previous misogynistic and patronising tone.
Not all promoters or clubs are this way but my experience has only made me want more nights out in my trainers at the sticky floor, small underground clubs I know I can be myself in. There’s no way discrimination of gender and style should still be happening, especially in such a diverse city as London. When we go out, we want to feel good but via being ourselves. We shouldn’t have to hide our true identity for the sake of some free drinks or entry to a club that seems to be a haven for misogynistic people. There are other places we REALLY belong.
Wear what you want and if someone tells you no, they’re obviously stuck in the 1950’s and need a reality check. Women; do the damn thing and EMPOWER.
Written by Jessamy Mattinson