Ladies drink free
(WOMENSENEWS)--"Free drinks for ladies all night!"
"No cover for girls before midnight!"
"18+ for ladies, 21+ for guys."
These were the general admission policies for many clubs in New York as the city was getting into the holiday spirit. These policies were advertised on club promotion Web sites or barked at patrons waiting in line to be admitted to the bars and clubs.
But the warmer welcome that young and underage women--those under 21--get at bars is not special to the holidays or New York. Throughout towns and cities across the country bars and clubs often offer discounts to young women.
At Club Paris, for instance--heiress Paris Hilton's nightclub in Orlando, Fla.--young women over 18 pay no cover charge before midnight and are admitted free if they have a college ID. Young men, by contrast, are required to pay a cover charge of $10 before midnight and $5 with a college ID.
While guys their age often get stopped at the nightclub or bar door for lack of convincing proof of age, many young women say they are admitted without a glance or question. Once inside, they are often offered complimentary drinks.
First, off let me say that the US drinking age is ridiculously high. Eighteen is a perfectly reasonable drinking age. That said, letting 18-year-old girls in for free and shutting out their male peers is unfair and possibly unsafe.
It's not as if drink specials for underage girls rank among the world's most pressing public health problems, but they're not exactly a positive, pro-social business practice either.
The intended outcome is attract very young, very drunk girls for the amusement of the older drink-buying male clientele. The vast majority of the time, the result is harmless mutually enjoyable bacchanalia. However, it's not hard to see how this contrived age and intoxication discrepancy could make young women more vulnerable than they would be in a sane world where they could go to bars with guys their own age.
Amanda thinks this article is just another shameful example of rape victim blaming. She reads the article as a veiled swipe at the girls who have the temerity to get drunk in public. Granted, Liz Funk doesn't help her feminist cred by quoting budding misogynist Gary Miller and his screed against college women who enjoy nightclubs.
On the whole, however, I don't see this article as an attempt to stigmatize or blame young women who drink or dance. A liquor license is a big responsibility. In exchange for this very lucrative privilege, proprietors are expected to serve responsibly. That includes obeying the liquor laws--i.e., checking ID and refusing service to visibly intoxicated customers. Bars that don't obey these rules are creating a public nuisance and possible safety hazards. You don't want people falling down stairs, getting into fights, vomiting in storm drains, etc.
Contriving to get one subset of the clientele completely wasted isn't in the best interests of customers or the neighborhood. People who live in club-filled New York neighborhood of Chelsea are sick of people puking on their steps because clubs keep serving wasted kids for show.
I don't see any problem with reasonable alcohol promotions intended to attract certain types of otherwise legal customers. (IMO, the federal laws should be changed to put 18-year-olds in the the legal drinker category, but until then, laws should be upheld in a gender-neutral fashion.)
If club owners want to offer drink discounts or waive cover charges for guests wearing Mets gear, revelers with Halloween costumes, firemen, or women over 21, that's fine. Whether these discounts are "fair" to Yankees fans, EMTs, or 21-year-old guys is really beside the point. Part of running a successful nightclub is engineering the "right" crowd. (That's one of the reasons I hate most nightclubs, but it's how the business works.) However, owners who routinely contrive to get certain customers completely trashed are creating a hazard for their guests and the community and they deserve to have their liquor licenses taken away.
This is big business, and club owners aren't giving young girls free drinks out of the goodness of their hearts. So, allowing owners to flout the law in pursuit of underage female customers sends an ugly message: Male amusement is more important than public safety.