Do you think Ladies’ Night promotions are a form of discrimination?

Five bars are charged with violating the Human Rights Act by offering Ladies’ Night discounts to female customers. Today’s Question: Do you think Ladies’ Night promotions are a form of discrimination?

  • First off – I tend to avoid any place that has a Ladies’ Night, because it is essentially advertising this nirvana of drunk and easy women ready to drop their panties at a moments notice. This is equally as insulting to the ladies as it is to the men. Not only are the bars not attracting a large group of people, but women – in general – drink less than men. Combine this with the fact that a man interested in a girl will buy that girl a drink, and then think about the redundancy in this promotion. It is basically there to draw attention and if they give away 1/5 of their profit on any given night, I would be surprised. None of us has to go into a bar that advertises free drinks or discounted drinks to women. If you don’t like the advertising – Don’t buy the product. If you think it is discriminatory – Don’t walk in the doors.

  • John Shaffer

    Of course its discrimination. From a clinical viewpoint ANYTHING that singles out one group over others is discrimination. The issue is whether or not we, as society, choose to tolerate a particular form. Access to handicapped parking places is a form of discrimination but we tolerate it, and for the good of us all.

    To answer the question, yes it bothers me. The dog barfing on the carpet also bothers me. But, in the big picture, neither are to the level of mental anguish I choose to dwell upon.

    Get a woman to buy YOU a drink if you want! Good conversation starter. Turn a negative into a positive by altering your perception.

  • Tai Koma

    First off- the guy who is pursuing this is a known legal word you can’t use on the radio and only a step away from being a proud misogynist, so it’s hard to want to say anything that supports his case.

    There are two ways this can be looked at:

    1. It’s discriminatory because it gives unfair advantages to one group based on a criteria that is protected under equal rights acts.

    2. It’s not discriminatory because it helps make up for inequalities in the past, IE, black colleges are not considered discriminatory. It provides a level playing field for a historically disadvantaged group.

    Can you make the second argument in the favor of free drinks at a bar? Unfortunately, I don’t think that you can. And I say unfortunately because I hate to be on this lawyer’s side, as he’s made it pretty clear that he would get rid of ALL benefits for women, even those that ARE legitimately leveling the playing field (such as women’s colleges, or scholarships to increase the amount of women in what are traditionally held to be ‘men’s’ jobs.) if he only could. Now, I normally abhor the slippery slope argument, but I’ve seen a lot of quotes from this particular lawyer that I’ll make an exception in this case.

  • Nancy

    All the drinking/profits/bar motivation aside, women on average earn less than men and pay more for health insurance and other services than men. Once all of that discrimination is resolved, we can start talking about whether a few cheap drinks for a few women is discriminatory.

  • Rob

    Ladies night discount promotions at bars are as discriminatory as senior citizen discount promotions at the grocery store and military veteran discount promotions at sporting events and theme parks.

    If bars offered a discount based on your credit score like auto dealers, banks and insurance companies do would that be considered a form of discrimination as well?

    What about a free drink at a bar or free dessert at a restaurant on someone’s birthday?

    What business/industry will be the next target of discriminatory promotional and sales practices? Where does it all end?

    Let’s just make no one special so everyone can be happy.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Clearly, Ladies Night at the local bar is a case of affirmative action. Historically, women have been disadvantaged by the social disapproval of “ladies” getting drunk and obnoxious, with men being tacitly approved in such behavior. “Boys will be boys,” after all. Cheap drinks for women merely level the playing field and encourage them to be just as stupid as men.

  • Sue de Nim

    Don’t we have more important things to get worked up about?

  • Jessamine

    I don’t think ladies’ night promotions are discriminatory. Bars that offer ladies’ night promotions tend to cater to younger crowds and are an attempt to get more customers in the door, especially men drawn by the possibility of more women. I enjoyed ladies’ nights while in college since I didn’t have much money then. It did feel like a meat-market atmosphere which I didn’t like but bars often feel like meat-markets. There’s a local video-rental place that offers free rentals to people with the posted first name. Is that discriminatory since I typically see Western names like Sarah, Rachel, Jim, Tom and the like? I don’t see Mohammed or Xiong offered free movies. If the ladies’ night meant men weren’t allowed then I’d consider that discriminatory. To be fair, the bars should have a men’s night. There are far greater discriminatory issues that need to be dealt with, ladies’ night is not one of them.

  • Khatti

    I think this is the classic example of society taking its bovine-waste-material far too seriously.

    I worry about the obsession so many people put into worrying about discrimination and equality. There are too many clowns out there who are convinced that any transgression, no matter how slight, against the concept of equality means that Auschwitz will automatically open for business again. The fact that we do not distinguish between a bar promotion and, say wage discrimination, does not speak too highly of our maturity.

  • AaronWillard

    Interesting question. The places that offer discounts for ladies are not offering them for 23% cheaper than men because on average, that is about how much more men make, so you can throw out the feminist theory/discount.

    Notice you only see it at bars and not at liquor stores.

    The only reason a guy would think it would be discriminated upon would be if he was married. No single guy is going to care.

    At the end of the day, we have more important issues to worry about.

  • Betty

    In the past bars switched from “Ladies Night” to “Skirt Night” and anyone wearing a skirt was given a discount. Men in kilts received the same discount. Why can’t bars be a little creative?

    But, to answer the question, YES, it’s discrimination.

  • Philip

    I guess the only reason I’m making a comment on this story is to tell anyone reading it that this is a ridiculous story. Honestly, is there nothing else that could be the topic of today’s Question?

  • kennedy

    A patron is valuable not only for the money they spend, but also for their ability to share thier opinion through their social network. It is common for consumer oriented businesses to offer targeted promotions. This allows them to manage their public image and target growth areas of their consumer base with directed funds. Here are some other examples:

    Discounts for seniors; discounts for children; discounts for facebook fans; discounts for students; discounts for families…

    If drinks at the bar are too expensive for you, go to the liquor store and make your own. Better yet, don’t drink.

  • Lawrence

    Technically, anti-discrimination laws were created to stop establishments, like bars, from refusing to serve clientele based on race, gender, national origion, creed, etc. In order to encourage more diversity, the law has given businesses the ability to attract minorities and women. Thus, this argument presents two interesting new challenges; what if a bar promotes ladies night (which doesn’t stop men from coming in the door) but has no other promotions during the week – is that discriminatory? Second, what if a bar fear it isn’t connecting with enough women–can they encourage more women to offset that problem by having ladies night? As for the person suing on the basis that ladies night is discriminatory — clearly he hasn’t been to a bar on Ladies Night because generally speaking, more women in the bar ends tirelessly old stories and jokes from the same loud mouth that frequents the bar everyday.

  • Rachael

    Ladies night promotions are put on by and for men. They attempt to bring women into a bar for men to oggle at and buy cheap drinks for. A man arguing against the practice just hasn’t figured this obvious fact out.

    Also, is there any bar that doesn’t have a ladies night? It seems to me to be completely standard practice, so why focus on these particualar bars?

  • Kit Donnelly

    Of course it’s discrimination. Men and women at ladies’ nights are being treated differently based solely on their gender. The real question is whether this form of discrimination should be illegal. Are ladies’ nights harming a protected group? Unless you believe the entire category of “men” is a “protected class” under the law, then the answer is no. Of course, something like “white people’s night” would be both discriminatory and harmful for obvious reasons. But discrimination by itself is not always harmful (e.g. affirmative action). While ladies’ night is a perfect example of overt discrimination, I do not believe it is something that results in harm to any particular group. Besides, as a heterosexual male, I am not opposed to bar nights that attract larger numbers of women.

  • The real story for MPR to cover is why the enforcers of the Human Rights Act are taking action against Ladies’ Nights and not the pervasive pay inequity in our state. That’s what I’d like to know.

    To the MPR listeners & website readers who ARE interested in this issue, I recommend you join the Minnesota Constitutional Amendment for Equality (MN CAFE) Coalition at

  • stu klipper

    Not to defame the Neanderthals, but aren’t such practices a throwback to the cartoonish Neanderthal guys with a club over the shoulder dragging his new ‘lady friend’ off to his man-cave for potential copulatory dynamics? –in this case its cheap or free booze rather than the antedilluvian club. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

  • Pat S.

    It would be discrimination if women’s salaries were equal to men’s for the same work. We are at 78% the last I heard. Maybe we should be charged 78% of the price for meals and drinks. Now that would be fair.

  • Shelley

    Let’s get us a better question, shall we? In a patriarchy, is ladies night discriminatory? The answer is who cares. As an earlier poster already mentioned, ladies night is for men. And as another earlier posted already mentioned, when we sort out the gender based income gap, we can talk then. Until that point, we need a real question.

    Have a nice day.

  • EAL

    In today’s politically correct, don’t hurt my feelings, world, perhaps the worse adjective one can toss at another revolves around the word discrimination! The word is overused and yet another example of political correctness run amok. Despite progressive propaganda, there are differences in men and women. The physical ones are obvious. The ones dealing with the brain and how we approach and act in that boy/girl game are not. The purpose of ladies nights are to enhance that “natural” allure between men and women. If discrimination is to ensure all treated the same, ask the question,

    “Why from a business and boy/girl perspective, the concept of mens nights would not be as popular. Hint – We are different.

  • Richie G.

    Echoes of Steve Horner’s battle cry come whimpering from the past. I considered this subject to be a joke when Mr Horner sued to end ladies night many years ago in Minnesota and Colorado. It was on The Daily Show after all. Any guy that needs to get a woman drunk to get her number is too sad for words. This subject is not worth the words to discuss it.

  • Sarah Hustad

    Bars that use these sorts of promotions do so because they traditionally don’t get very many female patrons. I personally would not go into one of these places, but this begs the question: Who is harmed by this? Are males really being discriminated against by these offers? I don’t think so. Petty-minded litigious people annoy me. This reminds me of the fellow that sued for the right to enter a well known female-only running event here in the Twin Cities, as he claimed it to be “discriminatory” to men. The upshot of that was it killed a long standing wonderful tradition, the Bonne Bell 10K.

  • Jon

    This is great news. If the state is prosecuting these bars, then that can only mean that every other problem has been solved!

  • jack Goldman

    Women can charge for it and men can’t give it away. How can government legislate global inequality? People want freedom but not the outcomes of the freedoms we claim we want. Why are women on men’s magazines and women’s magazines? Life is unfair. Kids get it. Adults don’t.

  • Mark Thein

    You keep coming up with these important questions and you become the arm of cnn on public radio…yikes!

  • jack Goldman

    Of course ladies night is discrimination. So is affirmative action race and gender quotas and subsidizing racism and terrorism in Israel. Education is discrimination. Winners love wars. Losers whine and hate wars. Right now women and minorities target to exclude and discriminate against Christian White males. Why not let the free markets sort it all out? The world is not fair.

  • Lawrence

    I’m not sure if Jack Goldman was being sarcastic or not, but I thought I’d better clear his opinion about affirmative action and discrimination with facts. As everybody by now knows, it was common practice for whites to purposely exclude Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, and Natives from whites only establishments, and those establishments were jobs, polling places, schools, businesses, neighborhoods, etc. White Supreme Court justices, legislators, and presidents enacted civil rights effectively ending segregation and discrimination only to find whites circumventing the law, which prompted affirmative action. As time has gone by, people think white males are excluded from American establishments, but this is not true. Ladies night means ladies pay a reduce entry fee, but every one is welcome to the bar. Before civil rights, blacks were not welcome to the bar—at all, or they had to come through the back. Most of these bars still want white males to come to the bar, and it is their hope that by letting more women into the bar, more white men will come.

  • Lawrence

    Last comment on this before I move on to another topic. Most research data shows white men are doing just fine, with the exception of getting higher education (their numbers have dropped recently). They still are the highest wage earners (as a group), and they are more likely than all other groups to own a business and live in affluent, often gated, communities. While several other groups have made gains, the most significant gains have been made by white women and Asian men and women. The fear of reverse discrimination, I think, is more of an emotional response to the growing number of minorities and women in the general population as a whole, and in fields, establishments, and communities, that typically catered to whites only. As a group, white males show no signs of slowing down, being generally prosperous and successful at whatever is they try to do. If we could just get them to stop thinking they (white males) are the only ones that work hard, we all might enjoy a more peaceful society.

  • Michelle

    No way!

    Preferential treatment is not the same as discrimination. Since when did receiving free drinks from an establishment become a “human right?”

    That being said, I’ve always found “Ladies Night” a bit sleazy, but that’s a different topic!

  • Joe

    Discriminatory and perpetuates inequality. Another good example is phone chat datelines like Livelinks. Livelinks was lots pf fun in the early 1990’s and I became a bit irritated when I found women got unlimited time for free whereas men paid from

    USD$99.99 820 minutes

    USD$74.99 600 minutes

    USD$49.99 250 minutes

    USD$24.99 100 minutes

    USD$14.99 51 minutes

    Women pay nothing.

    In recent years over half of the women online are looking for a “generous” male implying a good time for money. Other women on the line get disgusted at the lustfulness that many males exhibit online. If men and women paid the same (or nothing at as as with the internet dateline )

    the re would be an equal footing to exchange and interact in a more humane way.

    I used to love Livelinks and dated some wonderful people in the 1990’s in this past 2000 dacade however I’ve literally spent a few thousand dollars on that and sister phonelines (all to connect with local ladies) and had such a mix and mess of a time with it that I became disgusted and called the company on sexual discrimination. Livelink’s response was that I didn’t need to call the line, I told them that they were setting men up for some kind of sexual expectation (even if subconscious) of an encounter and thus the company was selling the online encounter with the women to the men in a sort of pimp like fashion. To be further tainted by the predominance of actual indiscreet prostitutes posing as very willing, sexy sounding eligibles, when they are actually wasting the time and $ of the men who want to meet fun intelligent, sexy women on an equal basis.

  • fjames

    This is a little bit like asking, “Are gas stations that offer discounts to people who have a loyalty card from a particular grocery store chain discriminating against others?”

    WTF? Excuse the language, but get a f**king clue, people. Any time a choice is made, discrimination takes place. Steak or chicken? Ford or a Toyota? Tudor, Colonial, or rambler with attached garage? Pencil or pen? If pen, black ink or blue? Should I be a Baptist or a Jew? Will I have sex with men or women? Do I abort this fetus with Down Syndrome or not?

    It’s life. Get over yourselves and stop making society stupider, less interesting, and less diverse. If people spent half as much energy on actual social justice issues as they do on this bullsh!t, we’d have eliminated racism, poverty and income disparities by the mid 1990s.

    And yes, I know I’m a day or two late on this, and I’m sure no one will read it, but god it feels good to rant once in a while.

  • rustyhooks


    That word use to mean something.

    I know this is MPR and its listeners are more at home in Switzerland, but I’ll try to make a point:

    In a free society you should have the right to discriminate. No other person and definately not any gov’t should be allowed to force you to sell as they wish.

    If I’m a vegetarian and you put a sign outside your bar saying “No Vegans Allowed” that’s your business and I should just move on.

    Its funny, , , women get a great deal on drinks and men flock to that establishment because of it. I’d say the free market works just fine.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “In a free society you should have the right to discriminate.”

    Is that so? Maybe I misunderstood my high school civics lessons, but I thought a free society was one where people work through a fair political process to decide how to live together. “Freedom” doesn’t mean bullies are free to get their way just because they can. And it doesn’t matter if the bullying is disguised under rhetoric about economics and property rights. If bullies call the shots, it’s not a society, is it?

  • RideThisHandsomeBlackCowboy

    Okay,but why don’t establishments have “Black Men’s Days/Nights,”