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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 November 2021

Sexism, safety and the profit system

Photo: Iain Dalton

Photo: Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

Layla Dockerty, Cardiff Socialist Students

After over a year of nights in, 'social bubbles' and rainy outdoor seating, it's no wonder the decision to bring back nightclubs and bars has been so popular, especially among the younger generation. However, it didn't take long for the headlines to take a more negative turn. The spiking crisis has gained massive press attention in recent weeks, and caused mass anger among clubbers across the country.

The 'Girls Night In' or 'Big Night In' campaign has been broadcast across many people's social media, advocating a boycott of all nightclubs in the last week of October. Despite being very supportive of the movement, I can't help but doubt how much impact it will actually end up having.

The UK's nightlife culture is, in my opinion, male-dominated and sexist. Club reps stand out on the streets and hand out discounts. This is mainly done to encourage women into their clubs, as this will, in turn, entice men to follow.

In an old job of mine, I worked as a host on the door of such a venue, where one of my colleagues would go out onto the street and approach women-only groups and offer to let them skip the queue if they came in. Even from the beginning of the night, many clubs use women as free advertisements for male patrons, hence accepting or almost encouraging a culture that can easily lend itself to exploitation by predators.

From a worker's perspective, this isn't something that's left at the door. One of the most shocking stories I've heard from colleagues involved an eighteen-year-old girl who was sacked from her job as a waitress for putting a jumper on over the revealing costume she'd been given to wear, as she was getting ill from working outside in the cold.

It's not uncommon for female employees to be asked to dress more revealingly than they would like, and many bars, build this into their brand.

I've been glad to see that my current employer (which thankfully is a lot more respectful of its workers than many others) has implemented stricter searches at the door, lids for cups and spike testing kits at the venue. But one club alone is powerless against the overwhelming majority.

The issue doesn't stop at spiking. It must be tackled more comprehensively, with a total shift in clubbing culture to treat women as equals, rather than a source of male entertainment and profits. This of course goes deeper than just nightlife itself, and is symptomatic of gender discrimination and sexism in society more broadly.

Having said this, the nightlife industry does seem to be reluctant to let go of the gender dynamics of the past. Women shouldn't have to be anxiously looking over their shoulders for the duration of the night. It's time for those in a position of power within the industry to take responsibility for the actions of the predatory few, and stop exploiting and endangering women in an attempt to increase profits.

What we think

We live in a system where a small minority owns the wealth; where exploiting women in low-paid, precarious jobs generates enormous profits, and the unpaid work that women do in the home saves capitalism billions of pounds every year.

Private companies which dominate and control the media, beauty, fashion, leisure and other industries reflect and promote sexist ideas about how women should look and behave and turn our bodies into commodities to make a profit.

To eliminate gender violence and abuse we need fundamental system change which takes economic and political control out of the hands of the minority that profit from gender and class inequality. That means a united struggle of all those who face discrimination, inequality and exploitation, in the workplace and in wider society, for socialist change.

A Fighting Programme for Women's Rights and Socialism

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In The Socialist 3 November 2021:


Socialist change to end climate change

Fight for socialism to end climate destruction

COP26 begins - workers strike for pay

COP26 News in brief

Campaigns news

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Fund the fight for a socialist world

Sheffield students tirelessly campaigning for socialist change

Hackney children's centres: Campaigners see through council deception

East London gentrification plans exposed


Fight for a real wage rise for all

Local government cuts set to continue - we need councillors prepared to fight

Race to top for bankers

Fight for a 15-an-hour minimum wage and an end to youth rates

Water companies put profits before protecting our environment

Tories threaten arts students: we are prepared to fight back!

Tory Universal Credit crumbs no solution to cost of living crisis

Tory plans won't fix social care

Pay freeze lifted for civil servants - prepare now for the struggle for a decent rise

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NEU: Strategy needed to bring members together to take national action

Oaks Park school strike spurred on by head's lies

Scunthorpe scaffs strike into fifth week

Unite leaflets supermarkets to build support for Weetabix fire and rehire strike

Plant engineers pay dispute

Fighting sexism

Sexism, safety and the profit system

International news

Sudan - mass protests and general strike against coup

Chile: International solidarity campaign to free political prisoners

Vaccine inequality - the ugly face of capitalism

Hunger strike in Calais for refugee rights

Protests against Sudan coup reach Britain


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