Two things that are very, very important to the Irish student are nightclubbing and social media. No matter how big a wallflower you are, odds are at some point of your degree you'll find yourself in a darkened, sweaty box, knocking back rum and Coke and avoiding creepy boys. Social media drives the Dublin nightclub scene, giving away "guestlist" spots to fans and generally whipping up a bizz for a place.Clicking "attending", going out and cringing over the photos the next morning is something of a ritual for many Irish students, whether they like it or not. Nightclubs are blurring the lines between fun and scary, as proved by a CollegeTimes.ie article posted yesterday. The article itself - which I could write a thousand words condemning - not only showed rape culture and patriarchy at work, but also showed the deep-rooted problems with Ireland's ~club culture~. My feminist hackles are up, my lipstick (Smash The Patriarchy #2) is on, and I am ready to rant. What is wrong with Irish nightclubs - and more to the point, Irish students?
It's difficult to decipher what came first: sexist students or sexist promotional companies. Last year, we all discovered Midnight Promotions' dirty doings - as someone on Twitter put it, "degrading women as a marketing ploy". Midnight have been involved in a "knickers for liquor" debacle, the infamous "if you're not up for it, don't cum" posters and, most recently, a night called "TIT Thursdays." The night promised guestlist spots to women who posted their breasts on their (public) Facebook page - to be rated by other members. TIT was quickly taken down after it was picked up by Twitter this morning, but the shock waves remain. Furthermore, it transpired that CollegeTimes.ie was run by Midnight - more misogyny for money. The borderline-rape-how-to article has since been pulled by the site - and an apology issued - but you can still read what it's plagiarized from here and the apology seems half-assed at best. To paraphrase Amanda Palmer:
"It's 2013, it's supposed to be the future...what happened?"
Hate-filled articles and posters are one thing, but this doesn't turn 20something males into rapists. Just because an article uses phrases like "[a man's] target/prey" doesn't mean that he'll act on them. Surely I think better of men than that? Of course I do - I don't suspect every single guy I know of being a rapist. That is...a little extreme, at best. However, when we enter a nighclub, we enter a world of smoke and mirrors, where suddenly the language of misogyny translates into action. Our culture makes the black-and-white issue of consent into 50 Shades of Grey - and no matter how beingn these may seem, rape culture is rape culture. Over the past few years, I've been followed around clubs, insulted, yelled at, lied about having a boyfriend (numerous times - food for thought: the only thing that will prevent a man coveting a woman is the knowledge that another man has coveted them, not their consent), been felt up despite protest and - perhaps most memorably - being hit with the amazing line "want to come back to mine and make me a sandwich?" It's these incidents that make me worry about articles like the CT one being published. The fact that women put up with this on a night out shows how deeply the problem runs. We almost expect to be mistreated in a nightclub, because that's How It's Always Been.The systematic slapping of arses, drunken shifts, one night stands and spiking of drinks are routine in nightclubs in Dublin City Centre - it's just part and parcel of a night out.
So what on earth are we to do about a way of having fun (YES. AT THE ROOT OF IT ALL, WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE FUN AT A CLUB, REMEMBER?) that perpetuates "a system...which privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it" ? Particaurly when it's there, right in our faces, when we want to go out for a dance? It's often just not practical to scream "YOU'RE PERPETUATING THE PATRIARCHY" at some scumbag in Dicey's, though it often does the trick. The terrifying truth is that I'm not sure what we, as bra-burning, man-hating feminists, can do other than give out on Twitter. Because this goes so much deeper than a single article or even a promotional company - and it scares the living daylights out of me. So I'll keep shouting and writing and maybe, just maybe, we'll see a nightclub where women "shyly drinking their vodka cranberry" won't stand around waiting to pounced on by your local misogynistic scumbag.