A young woman was recently refused free entry at a Trinidad and Tobago nightclub because she was “dressed like a man,” according to the person working the door, and therefore did not meet the criteria of hyperfeminine gender presentation required for “ladies free”.
Nightclubs that advertise “ladies free” are actually using women as part of the experience they are selling to (heterosexual) men whom they perceive as their legitimate customers. This is the reason men are expected to pay and “ladies” are admitted “free”. It is neither an act of feminist benevolence nor discrimination against men that club owners have such policies. Such policies aid in heterosexualizing public spaces and reinforcing the notion that ALL women should be sexually available to men. These clubs with their dress codes, including the requirement that women wear heels, seek to reinforce a heterosexualised femininity, regulating gender and sexuality and often discriminating based on class, colour and size. Women can collectively challenge this hetero/sexism and classism by refusing to patronize such clubs and organising our own forms of entertainment and community building.
That said, sometimes you just want to be out in public like everyone else without being misgendered, discriminated against or otherwise subjected to somebody else’s ignorance or worse.
For some of the chatter about the incident see also: