On Friday December 18, the Aria Lounge on Ariapita Avenue should have more cross-dressers than, well, Curepe, after ‘Womantra’ asked women to wear their most unfemale clothes to disguise their femininity while men were advised to wear dresses.
Before you get too excited, Mr Live Wire would like to point out that Womantra is a feminist group and not a j’ouvert band.
Womantra chose a fitting rallying cry for its proposed demonstration: “Come out all butched up!”
When historians look back on issues that shaped Trinidad and Tobago culturally, with all due respect, this probably would not be one of them. But let me explain further.
On December 11, Shannon Gomes turned up at the Aria with her lady friend to “turn up”, only to be told at the door that she would have to pay $120 for the pleasure. Or, to put it another way, she was charged the “men’s price.”
Gomes is, biologically and legally, not a man. But her pleas for a freebie fell on deaf ears. And she was asked to pay to enter Aria, just like the hundreds of men who also went to the club that night.
Sexual discrimination? Damn straight!
Why do the men have to pay when the women don’t?!
You see, in 2015, there are still many proprietors who believe that women are sexual bait or eye candy for big spending male patrons. And it is a stereotype that cuts both ways: women are cheap or need hand-outs and men are lust-driven idiots with big wallets.
No matter what Womantra says, the discrimination did not start last Friday. It started decades ago. And, unawares, young men and women stepped in the footprints in front of them, carrying on the cycle of discrimination until Ms Gomes—the John Howard Griffin of her time—inadvertently crossed the barrier.
In 1959, Griffin used medical assistance to darken his skin so as to appear black and get a real idea of life as an African-American in Louisiana. His subsequent memoir, Black Like Me, was a best seller and described in detail the problems and discrimination that “coloured folk” faced during their daily lives in the Deep South.
Gomes had no such calling.
“F%*k this man’s price crap,” she might have well said, “I just wanna get in free!”
Womantra has vowed to fight for Ms Gomes’ right to not be treated in the same discriminatory manner as male patrons. A feminist group insisting that a woman not be treated as equal to men? Irony? What irony?
So women in men’s outfits should benefit from slashed cover charges but men in men’s outfits have to fend for themselves. Unless they wear dresses. Eh?
Sorry ladies. But if women can get in free while dressed as men, then tell us again why men shouldn’t get in free while dressed as men? How can an ethical and progressive group choose between who it liberates from the same fire?
At least Aria can claim economic motivation for its discrimination.
No self-respecting protest would be caught dead without a hashtag and Womantra has already begun promoting: #insolidaritywithshannon.
So, Mr Live Wire has opted for: #soisonlyshannonallyuhseepaying.
There is precedent to our argument. The court of Montgomery in Maryland ruled:
“Any distinction with respect to any person based on race, colour, sex, marital status, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, handicap, or sexual orientation in connection with admission to, service or sales in, or price, quality or use of any facility or service of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement in the county.”
The California Supreme Court declared:
“The Legislature has clearly stated that business establishments must provide “equal… advantages… (and) privileges to all customers no matter what their sex…
“A business establishment might offer reduced rates to all customers on one day each week. Or, a business might offer a discount to any customer who meets a condition which any patron could satisfy (eg presenting a coupon, or sporting a certain colour shirt or a particular bumper sticker)…
“The key is that the discounts must be applicable alike to persons of every sex, colour, race…”
In other words, clubs would behave like cinemas.
So, tell Aria that Mr Live Wire coming with his dogs and dem. And we ent wearing no dress. And if the ladies ent paying to go inside, then we ent paying neither!
Well, unless the ladies inside are really cute of course.
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Aria dress code just bring to the fore the complexities of the many layers of gender. When we examine gender issues from the lens of different moral, ideology,society and free world we come up with protest for and against issues like these, but are these the real problems that are preventing a young boy or girl from having a normal existence meaning the right to an education, the right to be loved, the right to play , the right for food,clean water and shelter. Let us all start to protest the right for a normal existence then these issues like Aria will be a thing of the past.
To me its simple any party where woman enters free normally is bait for man to enter so if you dress like a dude its because you come looking for woman so pay your entry fee like man too .always talking about gender equality this to me is a perfect example of it
Okay I finally find meh other cent to make meh two cents cover charge to enter this parley…now the “person” in question said she came with other female friends who got in for free, so if they got in for free why not do what they did to get in for free also? And if they got in for free they were classed as a lady right…so what would they do if Saucy showed up before 10pm?
Problem resolved like only Saints men can lol….
The main fact being ignored is that she was late and missed the 11pm deadline for free. But as live wire says is freeness they want
Great intellectual discourse, gentlemen!
…given my hairstyle, it would be Rasta City vs Baldheads…. and you know me as a Muslim wouldn’t fly….
Thought we were gonna go Rasta City vs Muslim City for a while there tho BC BC Pires. ???
No problem. Thanks for saying so BC. I did say that I fully believe she was discriminated against. And I really would not mean to belittle her even as I make another point.
Thanks for clearing that up.
Lasana, yes, I owe you an unqualified apology; a second read of your piece shows it was close to the wind but not capsized, as I first thought. So you have my unqualified apology; if you were offside, it’s only because I put you there by overrunning the ball. (It’s why I said even your own team in the satire game can misread the play; I know you’re one of our most reliable players.) It was one of two mistakes. Kevin B pointed out to me that to suggest we should mock “the right people” was to handcuff satire; he’s right.
Not for the first time, I see BC Pires has called me out. Not a problem. I invited him to have dialogue on my timeline if he chooses to explain further.
And maybe we can both pick up something.
Quote from BC BC Pires: “One wag, whose name I swear never to reveal (Mr Live Wire of Wired 868), treated the issue as pure comedy, suggesting that the only sexual orientation being treated unfairly at nightclubs was full price-paying heterosexual males.
In the satire game, it’s easy for even your own team to misread the play, but it seems to me that this is not one of those where you poke fun at the person under fire; we still need to mock the right people.”
If you, BC, can quote where I poked fun at the person under fire in this scenario, then I would love to see it.
In fact, the reason why Wired868 was probably the only news house NOT to use a photo of Shannon in the story was so as not to inadvertently ridicule her and to change the angle slightly to another point I chose to make.
I mocked Aria, sexual pricing on the whole and the response of Womantra to the incident and, in particular, their call for everyone to get “Butched Up.”
But I would like to better understand where I mocked the person under fire.