On Wednesday night, 20th April 2016, three friends and I (all girls) went to f.Club, and despite it being ladies night — which is universally known to entail free entry as long as your IC reads ‘F’ for female — one of my friends was denied free entry on account of being “inappropriately dressed” (and here I am quoting more than one bouncer, including the one “in charge”).

There are 2 flagrant problems with this:

1 – a shockingly unfair inconsistency in club rules and ethos

2 – blatant sexism and gender-identity discrimination that is archetypal of club culture

First and foremost, the term “inappropriate” is a circumstantial one and by virtue of this alone, one would expect that rules pertaining to appropriateness be spelt out in black and white. Under the “dress-code” tab on the official f.Club website it states: “NO EFFORT, NO ENTRY. STRICTLY NO SLIPPERS, NO SHORTS, NO SINGLET” (retrieved from: http://f-club.sg/hp/about/club-rules/), a rule that is not gender-specific. My friend was dressed in jeans (like me) and close-toed high top sneakers (like me).

The only difference was that I wore a cropped top that bore my midriff and she was in a long-sleeved sweater. We both complied to the dress code, yet she was asked to pay a $30 entry fee and I was let in for free. Logically, if she did not adhere to the stipulated dress code as stated on their website, they should not have let her in at all.

Logically, paying $30 to enter a club despite being “inappropriately dressed” is bribery, and an authority that not only condones but demands this is corrupt. But no semblances of logic surfaced in our dealings with ~5 members of staff, so that is not that point. My friend was not “inappropriately dressed” as the bouncers repeatedly and brainlessly asserted; she was not dressed “femininely”, and it is nothing short of alarming that in our support of sexist institutions such as f.Club, we have allowed rightfully detached perceptions of “feminine”, “provocative” and “appropriate” to fuse and become disturbingly interchangeable. Are these honestly the sort of institutions we are supporting?

“NO EFFORT, NO ENTRY” is not only hypocritical but is also highly ineffectual, and while changing it to “no SEX APPEAL, no entry” would be far more honest, it doesn’t make the club culture any less abhorrent. Deciding whether or not to let a woman into a club for free based on the type and quantity of clothing she has on is almost like flinging meat into a lions’ den; if you’re not fleshy then you remain in the pail.

Patronising these places only breeds a society that shelves men and women into predator and prey, or subject and object, which is not only feudal and archaic but is regressive, unfair and fundamentally disgusting. Notwithstanding ridiculously arbitrary rules, an “appropriately dressed” woman is far from one who is baring her skin. It is repugnant to deny a woman who is legally and sexually female her right to free club entry on a Wednesday just because she is not dressed provocatively and caked in makeup — for reasons that go far beyond a persons’ decision to identify with social expectations of what both men and women should dress like. Yes, my friend is ‘butch’ and so she dresses “like a boy”, but what about the women who are body conscious? Women who are conservative? Women who are COLD…?

I am furious, and I am not the only one that should be. Far more repulsive than an institution that propagates gender stereotyping and objectification is one that hides behind ludicrous “dress code” excuses. Not only is it offensive to women who cannot and choose not to conform to societal expectations of what a “club-ready” woman should look like, it also breeds a culture where woman are expected to put their bodies on show.

Stop the proliferation of institutions and their culture that discriminates, denies the fluidity of gender, and commodifies bodies.

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