The Bachelorette Ban

Crossposted @ Amplify

This Huffington Post article about a gay nightclub that has banned bachelorette parties really got me worked up. As I read the article I found myself 100% agreeing with bar owner Geno Zaharakis, who’s official statement regarding his decision is this: “Until same-sex marriage is legal everywhere and same-sex couples are allowed the rights as every heterosexual couple worldwide, we simply do not think it’s fair or just for a female bride-to-be to celebrate her upcoming nuptials here at Cocktail.”

What flustered me were the comments from those who disagreed with Zaharakis’ position by either claiming inclusiveness would help the gay rights movement more or claiming that, since the women don’t mean to be flaunting their privilege it should not matter. Its articles like these that make me wish more people would be aware of, and truly examine, their privilege before speaking. The general argument against Zaharakis’ decision is embodied pretty well in the following blog excerpt:

“Not so sure I agree with the way Zaharakis is doing this. It seems a little naive to think that discriminating against those straight woman who most likely support gays rights to have any effect on gay rights.  Woman turned away at the door are more likey in my opinion to resent being turned away. Zaharakis seems to think that turning them away will make them run staright to their congressmen and demand gay marrige so they can hang out in his bar. Sounds like someone might be a bit delusional if you ask me.”

(Taken from an opinion piece on the issue that was randomly choosen off google)

This line of thinking reeks of privilege, in the sense that those making the argument are solely looking at how Zaharakis’ decision will effect the straight women. When I look at this situation I see a business owner trying to create a safe space for his patrons – one where they do not have to be reminded of the rights they have yet to be granted by our heterosexist society. This is not discrimination.

I will concede that many bachelorettes who are turned away may harbor a resentment for the club (although I truly hope that resentment would not affect their stance on gay rights!) but this does not mean Zaharakis’ decision was wrong. He should not have to base his decision concerning bachelorette parties on how it effects the opinion of the privileged class (in this case heterosexual women) – it is the responsibility of these women, rather, to understand the privilege they have in society and understand how their celebration could very easily make another person who does not have the same opportunities as them, but deserves a fun night out just as much as they do, very sad.

On this note, I do understand the women’s desire to celebrate at a gay bar – being free from the worry of being hit on or taken advantage of by straight men, surrounded by friends and potential friends (who won’t try to proposition them) and getting the opportunity to take in a drag show are all understandable appeals. Its interesting that women seem to be seeking out gay bars more and more when going out – for the “safe haven” they provide from sexual attention.

This is a perfect example of oppressions being linked – straight women go to gay bars because our culture makes it socially permissible for straight men to invade a woman’s personal space, especially in bars, even when she is not interested. In turn, the people who gay bars exist to serve – gay patrons who are in need of a safe community – must now deal with the heterosexist bachelorette parties who come in seeking a safe-haven from sexual harassment… these women deserve a safe space to celebrate, that’s for sure, but their safe space should not come at the expense of the gay patron’s safe space.

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