February 25, 2011

Ladies drink free!

The "ladies drink free" phenomenon cracks me up. It is one of the most blatantly sexist things I come across on a daily basis, and the unapologetic fucked-up-ness of the reasoning behind it never fails to make me laugh, albeit uncomfortably.

For the uninitiated (or frat-avoidant), here's how it works: ladies drink free. Or party free. In either case, there is a standard fee for drinks or cover, and while fellas have to pay it, "ladies" do not. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. If ladies don't have to pay, they are more likely to come to the party. If there are ladies at the party, men will come to the party. Men are paying for booze/music/party atmosphere, but they are mostly just paying for access to "the ladies." If this were not the case, and the men were just paying for the trappings of the party, then women would be paying too. Women are given a discount simply for attending the party, and men have to pay a price to access the ladies in attendance. If there is a situation with further commodifies women, I have yet to encounter it.

Imagine a hypothetical party at which "ladies drink free." For numerical ease, we'll make $10 the standard price for men. Following the initial "ladies-drink-free-because-men-pay-to-access-them" logic, there are all sorts of addenda that can be made to this pricing scheme. I have made this handy table. Frat brothers of the world, feel free to implement this at your next shindig:

Screen shot 2011-02-25 at 11.41.21 AM
Hope everyone finds this helpful!


  1. To me the reasoning has always seemed slightly more disturbing: if ladies drink free, ladies will drink more, and then be more likely to sleep with you.

    Your approach also makes sense; I think there's an element of both. Our culture disturbs me sometimes with its vestigial women-as-chattel undertones.

  2. i hate this. it's so stupid!! and even worse, in my town girls can get in free wit you flash the bouncer! sick.

  3. as a college girl in a relationship, it is for this reason that i often try to pay anyways when i go to a party. i hate showing up, getting in for free, and then feeling like i "owe" something (whether that thing be sex, dancing, or even just being a sexy wall decoration) to the people who are throwing the party. i'd rather just let them know at the door that i won't be getting with any girls or boys other than my boyfriend.

    i agree with mindy_melinda, i think its a combination of trying to first get girls to the party, and also to get girls drunk once they're there. when you just buy a cup at the door of the party (i guess this would be considered a cover charge), usually girls are free. however, in most of my experiences if the party is pay per drink, or per shot, both sexes must pay (although i've seen girls use their "womany wiles" to get drinks or shots for free).

    another interesting comparison is when a girls club (lacrosse team, girls soccer are some i've encountered) throws a party, both sexes pay. the girls don't feel the need to let guys in for free to give girls an incentive to come and pay to get with some hOt p@rTii b0iZ!! somehow at these parties there always ends up being a more even distribution of girls (lots of them!) and guys than there are at the frats (where there are usually noticeably more guys than girls, a back-firing of the plan i guess).

    lastly and more anecdotally, i was once at a party where one of my friends told a guy who wouldn't stop hitting on her that she was a lesbian (she IS a lesbian, not just lying to get rid of the guy, although i have seen a lot of girls do that too) and all of a sudden about ten boys popped out of the woodwork and all started shouting at us: THATS SO HOT! MAKE OUT! KISS HER! GIRL ON GIRL ACTION YEAH! high fives were involved. when they finally noted my boyfriend next to me they started urging him to have a threesome with my friend and i. oh college.

  4. Actually, I don't mind this. Being a sexual object etc isn't all bad; it's only bad in certain contexts. In an "I get free stuff" context, I'm fine with it personally, but for my male friends, I think it's harsh.

    Which brings us right back to point A, I guess :S

  5. This song sums it up:

  6. People doing things voluntarily! Gasp!

    Seriously though, as long as women aren't oppressed legally, stay the fuck away from their choices. Sometimes exercising freedom comes in forms you don't approve of. Get over it. If you want to not pay to drink, more power to you. If you want to pay to drink, more power to you.

    Did it ever occur to you that telling women how to live their lives seems decidedly un-feminist?

  7. Right, because all frat guys are date rapists.

  8. "People doing things voluntarily! Gasp! "

    You completely miss the point, its the fact that it commodifies women...

    You have the right to support treating women as tokens, but just realize that THAT is un-feminist

  9. Love this -- especially the chart!

  10. I think what Anonymous 1:25 is missing is that it's not the "ladies'" actions that are the problem, but the idea behind why "ladies" (I really hate that word in this context, it sounds so skeevy) are allowed in for free and dudes, conversely, are not. But I mean, in Anonymous' defense, how dare you speak out about the FUN parts of COLLEGE life, MAN! < /sarcasm >

    I love your chart - it made me LOL.

  11. As a former college drunkslut, I have to say, brava! I always hated* the idea that I was a party attraction, or some form of entertainment (cue drunken girl makeout phone videos). *Hated is a strong word. More like "loved, but felt intense shame the next morning".

  12. honostly, ive never been able to legitimately get into a frat party, and i didnt know why until i read this. it does make sense that i wouldnt be able to get into parties because of my smoldering good looks :P

  13. I am from Sweden, and while I spent quite a bit of time drunk and comparing girls to sinusoids when I was an undergraduate, we never had this system.

    (And as a matter of fact, I think this would be illegal under Swedish discrimination laws - since it is a difference based only on gender. Just as having different prices for whites and blacks would be illegal. Of course many student parties are already illegal for other reasons.)

  14. viktor-at my university in america, one frat got caught doing this and couldn't have parties the rest of the semester. they were cited for "running an illegal bar" by charging boys to drink but not girls, so i guess it is against some sort of state or university party? the frat responded by still having parties but not letting any boys who weren't brothers in (brothers dont have to pay) and still letting girls in to drink for free. its strange that only one fraternity was cited for this though.

  15. I don't see this as a problem. Free cover/booze is a bonus no matter how you look at it. I see your points, but I don't think it's as extreme as you make it out to be. Maybe this is because where I am, there's only select "Ladies nights" at different bars where cover/drinks are free until a set time. Maybe because of the set time I don't see a problem with it. Or maybe it's just my own assumptions.

    I agree with the discrimination against men point though. But, if women get paid less in the workplace at least men more often than not have the extra money to use, whereas women might not. [just an afterthought]

  16. We're seeing this differently. Free drinks do not equate "access" to the ladies. That thinking is pushing it.

  17. for everyone saying that free drinks doesn't equal access to ladies at the party, riddle me this. why else would you give free drinks?

  18. And bisexual girls should probably get paid to attend...

  19. Surely there's got to be a better way to get women to come to bars.

    Maybe we could change the atmosphere somehow so that women don't feel uncomfortable?

  20. Pass this on to E-Wess, I think AEPi could benefit from a more nuanced entry fee scheme.

  21. You hit the nail on the head! In the party seen, women are just seen as objects for men to conquer. I have had enough of that attitude. Thank you for putting this out there and making people aware of what is going on.

  22. This is a legitimate thought - I've also had another perspective too - that since in our culture men are expected to pay for drinks/initiate contact, it can be really expensive to go to a bar and buy multiple drinks for a woman or several women. This gives them a bit of a financial break as it were

  23. In theory, I agree with you. It does seem kind of scummy to basically advertise a bar with lots of too drunk women in it. But it doesn't seem to translate that way in practice.

    For one, ladies nights are well advertised, thus, easily avoidable. Really good bars/clubs don't have ladies nights, anyway.

    Secondly, there is no extra obligation placed on women at a ladies night. There's no obligation to dress a certain way, dance a certain way or to flirt.

    Ladies night is a textbook definition of sexism. Yet it seems most women find it a wholly inoffensive way to get drunk. Personally, I'm quite jealous.

    My question is, what's your proposed solution? As I said, most women are clearly not offended by free drinks or a waived cover charge. Do you support banning ladies nights?

  24. I think probably "Butch Lesbians" have to pay, whereas "Hot Lesbians" do not?

  25. Well, to make it fair, why not have a "gentlemen's night" to let the menfolk take advantage of free drinks? Or... would that not bring in enough revenue? :P

  26. This is hilarious. Well done.

  27. I laughed at the chart, a good humorous way to attack a sexist phenomenon. I've been lucky (unlucky? I do like free alcohol..) enough to have never attended a ladies night, but something tells me that attending a party where the men expect that they'll hook up with drunk women who feel some sort of obligation because they're drinking for free will attract the exact opposite type of people I'd like to interact with.

    I don't argue that the idea isn't sexist and doesn't comodify women, it most definitely is/does, but hey, women decide they want to go to these things, I might not approve, but I'm not terribly outraged or offended, I'll save that for things women are forced or pressured into doing that they don't want to do.

    Though I find free drinks or not, no matter what I do some strange guy always takes an interest in me at parties/bars, so perhaps a ladies night would cut down on my cost of getting talked up by some guy who looks like he's off Jersey Shore...

  28. I really can't bring myself to care.

    I'm going to look nice whether or not I'm getting in for free. It's a party. I will cheerfully drink their free vodka.

    You failed to realize that if I am single at the time, it is also on my agenda to pull whatever single man or woman I deem desirable. Because it's a frat party. What else are you supposed to do at these things?

    Perhaps the institution of a party created solely for drunken revelry and hookups bothers you. Just realize that women aren't delicate little pure flowers that need to have their honor protected from anyone with a few beers in them. In my experience, chatting someone up is a two-way street.

  29. Jamie: for everyone saying that free drinks doesn't equal access to ladies at the party, riddle me this. why else would you give free drinks?

    You are stopping a little short here. To get money out of men. Men are the paying customers; men drink more. Bars know that if women show up at their places, then men will follow. But what you call sexist I call a law of nature. The reason that this happens is the reason you and I exist. We are evolutionarily designed to interact this way.

    I also notice that you focus on the "frat brothers" who take advantage of this scenario, but what about the females who are complicit in all of this? If they didn't supply clubs and parties with their presence, there wouldn't be this so-called problem. But you are mute on that point; instead you want to blame men.

  30. This is the worst thing that I've read in my entire life. I wish I could have some Eternal Sunshine procedure to unread this. Despicable, deplorable and desperate.

  31. I'm going to go with Chuck on this one.
    Though, many of you raise great points, and I think the article as a whole is hilariously true.

  32. the only thing worse than being treated as a sex object is not being treated like a sex object. don't bother trusting me on this one. you'll find out for yourself in about a decade.

  33. Rachel: Ever been raped? Just because it's not a problem for you doesn't mean it's not a problem.

  34. Your chart has almost been adopted by a Frat-party theme night at one of Paris' less intellectually engaged venues. Even for the nice places that don't charge for anyone, it's almost impossible for groups of more than 2 boys to get into a venue unaccompagnied. I'm actually ok with that one, as it means there are never any groups of loutish wasted yobs, and nice architecture students come in on their own and politely request whether you'll pretend to know them so the rest of their friends can get past the doormen, but this one night has the most complicated and sexist pricing structure I've ever seen:

    10€ filles +1 conso si dress code respecté
    20€ mecs + 1 conso si dress code respecté
    30€ mixtes (1 prévente mec+1 prévente fille) + 2 consos si dress code respecté
    Pour les 10 premières bouteilles pas de restriction de sexe : 120€ Bouteille Hard +4 entrées
    120€ Bouteille Hard +4 entrées dont au minimum 1 fille
    70€ Bouteille Hard +4 entrées FILLES
    100€ 4 entrée + 1 ticket Beer Pong
    Sur Place (Si il reste de la place) avec 1 conso:
    15€ filles
    25€ mecs
    150€ Bouteille Hard (4 personnes mixtes)
    90€ Bouteille Hard +4 entrées FILLES

    plus boys can pay an optional €5 to drink a tequila shot off a girl's stomach, for which she'll get an extra free drink, or to watch the finale wet t-shirt competition.

    Simone de Beauvoir is doubtless spinning in her grave.

  35. Why is it you focus on issues as silly (and strictly voluntary) as fraternity parties?

    A search on your website for the word "mutilation" reveals nothing. Nor does a search for the word "Islam".

    Yet, across the world women are literally enslaved in theocratic muslim states, having their clitorises sawed away by wretched old men of God. And you're fucking crying about free booze?

    White girl problems.

  36. "...it's almost impossible for groups of more than 2 boys to get into a venue unaccompagnied. I'm actually ok with that one, as it means there are never any groups of loutish wasted yobs..."

    That's pretty sexist!

  37. Ah ha! I'm a bar manager, and we have rules about girl to boy ratio, plus one night a week where girls get in for free, but boys don't.

    There is a logic behind this, that actually has nothing to do with using women to tempt men in.

    So: women tend to go out to dance and have fun. Men tend to go out to pick up girls. So all night, the women are dancing and the men are trying to get in their pants. That's the way it goes.

    If there are 150 women, and 100 men, the women get bugged a bit, but still have a good time.

    If there are 100 of each, the women get bugged slightly more. But it's okay.

    If there are 100 women and 150 men, the women get hassled beyond belief. They start leaving, because it's no fun any more. Soon we're down to 50 women and 150 men. Now it's just hell. Fights start breaking out, nobody has a good time.

    As a bar with a predominantly heterosexual clientele, we need to have girls around to keep the atmosphere pleasant. In theory there are lots of things that should be a certain way, but in practice, this is how it works out.

  38. *sigh* I do resent the idea that this is a "white girl problem." Certainly Ladies' Nights do feel like a meat market for rich guys who can afford the cover charge. In India, the cover is often a hefty price for men- Rs 1000 or more, which is a significant amount of money for anyone but the affluent. Lower-caste women are less likely to be seen drinking at all, or able to go out and "party," and so are unlikely to be found in bars. The women there are upper-caste, and therefore graced with a more Western sensibility about sexuality and premarital sex.

    Ladies' Nights usually go from 8pm-10pm, meaning that if girls want to get drunk, they need to act fast. This scene usually results in women ordering armfuls of drinks and downing them very quickly. This means lots of women, becoming more drunk than they realize, available for the affluent men for whom they are procured. Rape is a very real scenario in India, on all levels. You do the math.

    This is a very real, non-white-girl problem.

  39. ADSF--Maybe a little more research is in order here: clitoridectomies are usually performed by the women of the cultures where they are practiced, and insisted upon by the elder females. I'm not endorsing it, and it is most certainly practiced within a patriarchal framework.

    However, just because there are other issues affecting women out there in the world, should we not point them out where we see them on our own hometurf? We don't have the right to speak for others as if we know what's best for them, only offer them the type of help they want.

    And do you really believe that only white girls go to bars?

  40. @Andy: YES, hahahah XD.

    Bisexual ladies: get paid $5 (logic for single ladies applies, as well as being an incentive for more GIRLS MAKING OUT WITH EACH OTHER).

    Bisexual men: get paid $5 (same logic as gay boys applies; addendum: possible incentive for single ladies to acquiesce to a threesome, hence the payment. See: yaoi and/or slash.
    ...It'll be worth it, man.)

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Ladies Night is just sexist period! DO you really think women are going to stop going to bars if they have to pay a cover charge like men? This outlandish perception that bars will suddenly become filled with just men is totally insane! Are women really going to just stay home and play monopoly! Imagine if the tables were turned and men got in free and didn't have to pay for drinks, how would women react? Wage scales now show women making more than ever and there is no justification why they should receive an economic advantage thatmen cannot be entitled to as well. Either even things out and give men the same chance at one night a week discounts, or do away with it altogether in the name of fairness.

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