Imagine if the 76ers, the Eagles or the Philadelphia Orchestra chose to routinely offer men a lower ticket price than women just because, well, just because. Pandemonium would ensue. Lawsuits would be filed, boycotts staged. Heads would roll. That type of ridiculous discrimination just isn’t acceptable in this country these days.
If you’ve been to at least a few club parties, I’m sure you’re familiar with “the Y-chromosome tax.” My friends and I coined the term to refer to the difference in cover charges that men must pay to enter the same nighttime venue as women. It’s an accepted practice in our society today. Neither men nor women really oppose the preferential treatment that females receive at night spots, but that hardly makes it appropriate or justified. Favorable pricing at clubs and bars for women — strictly on the basis of gender — is at the very least wrong, if not illegal. In fact, it may be one of the most blatantly discriminatory practices in the United States, our beloved beacon of justice and equality.
I’ve even tried to rationalize the pricing from a context of fairness. But although there remains a sizeable wage gap between men and women, it would be ridiculous to view discounted club pricing as some sort of redress akin to affirmative action policies in hiring and college admissions. Aside from implying that women are less capable of affording a $10 cover, lower club prices do nothing to thwart income disparities or break glass ceilings.
So what’s “the Y-chromosome tax” all about then? I’m not a fan of assumptions, but it’s reasonable to assume that low-price covers and drink specials for women are strategies these businesses use to ensure an abundance of female patrons and thus to entice more men to attend, extorting them through higher-priced entry fees and drink prices.
American laws are clear on gender-based discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed official discrimination on the basis of several individual characteristics, including gender, in almost all facets of American life. But for some reason, the Act exempted “private clubs,” leaving individual states to legislate that arena. The challenges that have arisen to “ladies nights” have led courts in several states, including Pennsylvania, to declare these practices illegal.
Based on my experience, though, enforcement of the Pennsylvania court’s ruling in Philly has been paltry at best. When my friends and I have hit some of the hot spots Penn students frequent, there have been times when the door attendants whisked the clientele wearing miniskirts and heels right in, charging nominal fees at most, before they charged higher fees to the clientele wearing button-downs and loafers.
Bleu Martini, one of Old City’s most frequented lounges, has developed a formula that encourages women to attend, but not at the expense of their male counterparts. On Thursdays, the lounge’s designated Ladies’ Night offers no cover for all of its clientele and half-priced discounts on menu items like sushi, salads and several of its tropical martinis, selections that women typically purchase more than men. With the regular menu prices still priced to ensure profit, the club has created an environment where men will probably end up spending a reasonable bit of money, but not just because they showed up with Adam’s apples.
Irrespective of its legality, offering women lower admission prices is an effective method. And most guys would be reluctant to openly oppose it because, let’s be honest, whining over girls getting something for free just isn’t manly. But one form of discrimination often gives way to another. I love partying with scores of fun women as much as the next man. I’ve just never met one that was worth compromising my inalienable rights.
Jonathan Wright is a College senior from Memphis, Tenn. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Wright-ing on the Wall appears on alternate Mondays.Comments powered by Disqus
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