Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1154/33272
Sexism, safety and the profit system
Layla Dockerty, Cardiff Socialist Students
After over a year of nights in, 'social bubbles' and rainy outdoor seating, it's no wonder the decision to bring back nightclubs and bars has been so popular, especially among the younger generation. However, it didn't take long for the headlines to take a more negative turn. The spiking crisis has gained massive press attention in recent weeks, and caused mass anger among clubbers across the country.
The 'Girls Night In' or 'Big Night In' campaign has been broadcast across many people's social media, advocating a boycott of all nightclubs in the last week of October. Despite being very supportive of the movement, I can't help but doubt how much impact it will actually end up having.
The UK's nightlife culture is, in my opinion, male-dominated and sexist. Club reps stand out on the streets and hand out discounts. This is mainly done to encourage women into their clubs, as this will, in turn, entice men to follow.
In an old job of mine, I worked as a host on the door of such a venue, where one of my colleagues would go out onto the street and approach women-only groups and offer to let them skip the queue if they came in. Even from the beginning of the night, many clubs use women as free advertisements for male patrons, hence accepting or almost encouraging a culture that can easily lend itself to exploitation by predators.
From a worker's perspective, this isn't something that's left at the door. One of the most shocking stories I've heard from colleagues involved an eighteen-year-old girl who was sacked from her job as a waitress for putting a jumper on over the revealing costume she'd been given to wear, as she was getting ill from working outside in the cold.
It's not uncommon for female employees to be asked to dress more revealingly than they would like, and many bars, build this into their brand.
I've been glad to see that my current employer (which thankfully is a lot more respectful of its workers than many others) has implemented stricter searches at the door, lids for cups and spike testing kits at the venue. But one club alone is powerless against the overwhelming majority.
The issue doesn't stop at spiking. It must be tackled more comprehensively, with a total shift in clubbing culture to treat women as equals, rather than a source of male entertainment and profits. This of course goes deeper than just nightlife itself, and is symptomatic of gender discrimination and sexism in society more broadly.
Having said this, the nightlife industry does seem to be reluctant to let go of the gender dynamics of the past. Women shouldn't have to be anxiously looking over their shoulders for the duration of the night. It's time for those in a position of power within the industry to take responsibility for the actions of the predatory few, and stop exploiting and endangering women in an attempt to increase profits.
- See also 'Fighting sexism and harassment, and for a safe night out' at socialistparty.org.uk
What we think
We live in a system where a small minority owns the wealth; where exploiting women in low-paid, precarious jobs generates enormous profits, and the unpaid work that women do in the home saves capitalism billions of pounds every year.
Private companies which dominate and control the media, beauty, fashion, leisure and other industries reflect and promote sexist ideas about how women should look and behave and turn our bodies into commodities to make a profit.
To eliminate gender violence and abuse we need fundamental system change which takes economic and political control out of the hands of the minority that profit from gender and class inequality. That means a united struggle of all those who face discrimination, inequality and exploitation, in the workplace and in wider society, for socialist change.
- Support the protests for a safe night out
- All venues should implement more safety measures - such as training for staff to identify and support those at risk, as well as providing free covers for drinks. Staffing levels must ensure that they have time to give support effectively
- Joint elected and democratically accountable committees of trade unions, local authorities, students and young workers to oversee safety measures in clubs and bars in their area
- More investment in public transport and street lighting to ensure that young people can get home safely from clubs and bars
- Fight for a socialist alternative to the sexism, inequality and crisis of the capitalist system
A Fighting Programme for Women's Rights and Socialism
- Socialist Party pamphlet available
- Email [email protected]party.org.uk
In The Socialist 3 November 2021: