Friday Debate: Gender-specific events are stupid

3 min read

Although I usually go solo to a lot of events, going with friends or your partner always makes it more fun. It doesn’t matter what event it is – when you’ve got company, you’ll probably enjoy yourself more. But too bad for you if some disastrous marketing plan decided that this is now a gender-specific event, and some of your friends, your partner, maybe even you yourself, are going to be denied entry.

Before you scoff, just think about the implications. Forgive me for interrupting your reading, but if you don’t mind I’m going to take you out of your chair and put you in the shoes of someone else. This someone else is a person who loves movies, and they have a diverse group of friends that shares the same tastes. So when a special pre-screening for the latest movie in a franchise they love opens, they jump at the opportunity to buy tickets. A few days later, they find out that you’re legitimately going to be denied entry to this event because they’re the “wrong” gender. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it is, but unfortunately, it’s also happening regularly enough that we need to talk about it.

I’m sorry for being crude, but I’ve never thought that our interests should be defined by what’s in our pants. “Ladies Only” movie nights where they show the latest insipid, interchangeable Nicolas Sparks romance or 50 Shades film are as insulting to me as a “NO GURLZ ALLOWED” event I’m interested in. From a recent event for Logan that was targetted exclusively at men, to a showing of Alien: Covenant last night that tried to bar women from entering the venue, it’s absurd that cinemas are actively trying to stop female fans from viewing movies they are excited about and making men feel uncomfortable if they want to watch a movie that shows emotions or relationships.

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At best, it’s juvenile. At worst, it’s straight up discrimination. I’ve seen qualified journalists excluded from industry events based on gender. I’ve heard horror stories about how cinema-goers were discriminated against by management staff, who asked male patrons to “vote” on whether the female patrons should be allowed to stay. I’ve had friends have to give up tickets to events because their partners wouldn’t be allowed to join them.

Maybe this all started with a misunderstanding of the initial intent. If I’m being generous, these sorts of events could be a way to encourage things to do with friends, and not just aim marketing at couples and dates. But, bringing gender into the equation takes it in a whole different direction for me. I mean, come on, even baby showers aren’t women-only anymore. It’s 2017 for goodness sake, it’s time society grew up.

Do you think there’s place in society for gender-specific events, or do you think they’re old-fashioned and stupid?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: May 19, 2017

Tracy Benson

All about movies, board games, cider, sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture.

  • Neji

    FML… its hard enough finding someone with the same move tastes as you and then one of you get denied when you go watch a movie.

    Its tacky at best, at worse its 1950.

  • D4RKL1NG

    Just tell them you identify as a man. Checkmate.

    In all seriousness, I don’t really see a issue with this TBH. It’s a “guys/girls night out (one day) promotion.
    It’s not like the movie is banned for a specific gender all the time. Alien covenant for example opens officially in South Africa today (And the guy’s night thing was last night iirc?) so no one will be missing out. It’s a fun night for guys and girls. If they did this only for guys then we had a problem.

    • For the Emperor!

      “Just tell them you identify as a man. Checkmate.” – LOL!!

      • Hammersteyn

        I lolled to XD

      • HairyEwok

        When a club is giving ladies free entry (and the gents need to pay R50) I’ll be sure to tell them I identify as a female.

    • A female friend of mine is one of the biggest Alien fans out there. To her watching the latest movie one day earlier is a big deal. If I had to wait to watch Star Wars a day after all the other fans simply because I’ve got a penis, I would be livid.

      • D4RKL1NG

        That’s just sad man. Can’t wait 24 hours for the official release of a movie? It’s not like millions are seeing it a day before you so someone will spoil it on the internet for you.

        One of these days bachelor parties will be called sexist as well

        • No, it’s not sad. It’s fandom.

          • D4RKL1NG

            Then fandom would know that the only Alien movies that are worth your time is Alien 1 and Aliens (Others are kak)

          • Original Heretic

            Are you assuming someone’s limits to fandom?!?

          • Dresden

            Did you just assume his assumption on someone’s limits to fandom?!?!?!

        • VampyreSquirrel

          So you’re saying that you wouldn’t be pissed off if you’ve paid for (or was even given) a ticket to go to see the newest entry in your favorite movie franchise a day early and you’re denied entry just because you’re a guy?

          • D4RKL1NG

            No. Because the tickets say “guy’s night promotion” why would I buy a ticket/accept one? That’s like a dude getting angry at a Doctor giving 90% discounts at his gynecology practice

            I just find it amusing that people get so angry at having to wait ONE day for the official release date of a movie

          • VampyreSquirrel

            It’s not a fact of “having” to wait, when there’s an event you’ve been excluded from because of who/what you are.

          • Magoo

            I partially agree with Darkling. I am excluded from the ladies bathroom because of what I am but there is a line to draw before throwing a tantrum.

    • I think if they did these silly nights away from pre-screening premieres then it wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue as it (potentially) is now.

  • Hammersteyn

    They’re old-fashioned and stupid. But a certain group made it easy to circumvent such things. You just need to ask them one question.

    Did you just assume my gender?

    • Hammersteyn

      Just thought of one more thing, do these events assume there’s only two genders?

    • Magoo

      Only people who use the ladies bathroom are allowed in. It sounds very shady as a rule though.

  • AfricanTime

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Don’t make me go to a baby shower . . .

  • Tarryn van der Byl

    I mean, excluding people from something on the basis of gender is stupid enough (and probably unconstitutional), but I think what’s most offensive about this is the presumption that men like this thing, and women like that thing. I don’t watch rom-coms. Where’s my Alien: Covenant girls’ night?

    • Tarryn van der Byl

      And. AND! It’s even worse because it’s an Alien movie. One of the only sci-fi franchises with an iconic female protagonist. I actually can’t even think of another one.

      • This is the big face palm moment for me. Like how is this is guy thing?!

      • MonsterCheddar

        Well said indeed.

      • The Hunger Games, Divergent (junk), Underworld, and Resident Evil immediately come to mind. I expect those too would fall under the “Boys-only” nights, and I would totally have missed out on La La Land and other love stories I mean deep down isn’t Alien just a love story anyway it has face huggers I mean come on now.

    • MonsterCheddar

      You go girl!!!!!!! Well said.

      I almost said ATTA BOY. LOL.

    • HvR


      Coming in at the end of the week to get Comment of Week

  • MonsterCheddar

    I agree. Its stupid.

  • For the Emperor!

    I don’t believe we should live in a world where public events are gender specific. But I also believe we should not live in a world where it is only raised as an issue when such events are for the male gender – it should either be raised always or not at all.

    • Tracy Benson

      Which is why I said specifically: “I’m sorry for being crude, but I’ve never thought that our interests should be defined by what’s in our pants. “Ladies Only” movie nights where they show the latest insipid, interchangeable Nicolas Sparks romance or 50 Shades film are as insulting to me as a “NO GURLZ ALLOWED” event I’m interested in.”

      • For the Emperor!

        I saw that, promise. It was not aimed at you, more of a general statement on when something is said about such things.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Oh and for the love of all that is holy.


  • Original Heretic

    Yeah, agree, it’s stupid to exclude people based on gender when it comes to normal events like movie showings.
    But hey, there are some things where it’s better to separate the men from the ladies.
    Like a baby shower or a bachelor party. In cases like that, I reckon it’s perfectly acceptable to say “Men only” or “Women only”.

    • Dresden

      That is understandable. But I feel like if someone of an opposite sex really wants to be at that event (say a best friend of the groom that happens to be a woman or vice versa), they should be allowed to join if they are invited or whatever the case is.

      • Original Heretic

        Yeah, for sure.

    • Tarryn van der Byl

      No. Baby showers should be equal opportunity misery.

      • Zoe Hawkins

        agree. sets the right expectation for the misery of shared parenting. 😉

      • I’ve been invited to, and attended baby showers. I had to put nappies on dolls and stuff. It was awful.

        • Original Heretic

          Please tell me you only did it once. That’s a mistake a man should never make twice.

          • No, if I was invited to a baby shower for somebody who I cared about, I would go. My masculinity doesn’t take precendece

          • Original Heretic

            Fair enough, that’s a solid reason.
            I don’t see it as an issue of masculinity, though. For me it’s more of a comfort thing. I was once included in an event like that and the stuff the women started speaking about made me uncomfortable.
            Yes, selfish on my part, I suppose.

          • having a party for someone just because they got their jolly on 8 months prior seems odd to me.. also babies are gross

      • Original Heretic

        I’m totally fine with being invited to baby showers.
        But I’m also totally fine with declined the invitation.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      Depends on the people? My two gay best friends were at my bachelorette, and when we did baby shower it was a mixed group of our friends – everyone can celebrate the fact I was spawning, eat food, chill and give me presents. 😛

      • Original Heretic

        Yeah, agree, depends. There are exceptions to every rule, as they say.

  • Dresden

    You are quite right. It’s 2017 and promoting segregated events (race, gender, etc.) is silly. It’s the same with things like gender studies, it’s divisive and does more harm than good.

    I mean if you if you have an Asian cuisine festival it would be counterproductive to exclude all other ethnicity and cultures, so why must it be any different with gender?

  • Magoo

    Is this a debate on that specific situation or a debate on generally having gender exclusive events? I don’t agree that one gender should get special treatment in the cinema, like earlier viewing or having to give up tickets. But men and women ARE different. And all the QLBITLASG are different too.

    Gender exclusive events are welcome as long as they are not shunning or a detriment to the other genders. Ladies Night is a PR campaign, and a good one at that. I have friend’s and family members who organized outings in the name of that event, who wouldn’t have made any plans otherwise. If there are two screenings, in the same cinema, at separate but reasonable times on the same day. Give one of them to the ladies, I honestly don’t mind. But like I said, if one is in a worse off cinema, at an unreasonable time or a day after “exclusivity” then I won’t support the idea.

  • HairyEwok

    This gender thing is a double edge sword and always needs to be tread lightly on if you want to leave the conversation unscathed.

    Case and point the Alien Covenant movie does have a boys night promotion sure, how about when 50 shades of grey had their ladies only night promotion?

    • Well, most of us think that’s pretty fucking stupid too.

      “I’m sorry for being crude, but I’ve never thought that our interests should be defined by what’s in our pants. “Ladies Only” movie nights where they show the latest insipid, interchangeable Nicolas Sparks romance or 50 Shades film are as insulting to me as a “NO GURLZ ALLOWED” event I’m interested in.”

      • we all?

      • HairyEwok

        Thing is nobody made a fuss when they did it back then, so why now.
        And i do agree its bullshit.

  • Personally I have no real issue against it… if there is a demographic out there that wants events where they are only surrounded by their own gender then fine, do that.

    Obviously it should be clearly marked to avoid people buying tickets and then being refused entry. But these events have been massively advertised so you can’t claim you didn’t know it was a MAN ONLY event.

    I have absolutely no interest in going to a movie house filled with only males though, that just feels incredibly weird but hey whatever floats your boat

    One thing I really dislike though is when the movie is a pre-release because you are then legitimately stopping someone watching a movie because of their gender and that is discrimination. But if ladies can watch it the same day in a different cinema house then who cares

  • Sageville

    I think if it’s an event that has nothing to do with gender then a gender restriction is stupid and backward.

    However, if there is something enabling or specific to a gender then in some cases they can be valuable.

    Take for instance the Girl’s Geek Dinners (Before they went to shite), my wife loved these, she got to interact with other geek ladies and their was normally a talk or punt around a gender specific concern. I can’t knock these sorts of events.

    However, if it’s a movie release or something that is not gender specific, then it’s just backwards and can GITFS.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      All the agree. If they wanted to do meet ups that cater specifically to a gender, that’s rad. Promoting women in gaming? Cool! Promoting men in education? Rad! Outreach programs for new dads to meet with other dads? Awesome. But this just feels discriminatory instead of helpful.

      • “Promoting women in gaming?”

        I actually have more of an issue with that sort of thing than this, that is if men aren’t allowed at the women in gaming thing.

        But it’s not about gender here, I also hate the black business lobbies and the christian/jewish business boards or whatever they are called. When a group specifically excludes a large portion of society for business or development reasons I feel it’s blatantly discrimination.

        and that’s far far worse than not being allowed to watch a movie for one screening only

      • Magoo

        I agree that it is distasteful. I was just about to reply here saying that this is based on stereo-types and not facts, but stereo-types weren’t thumb-sucked out of nowhere, then you came here and proved my point. And we can’t expect all gender based events to be geared towards the greater good. This is a “money speaks” campaign and, clearly, whether anyone likes it or not, the money has been speaking.

  • Member Berry Bob

    Aren’t these types of events aimed more at creating an environment where the participants feel comfortable and safe to be themselves? Why should we be understanding and open-minded when we can have our own events and single out groups based on gender, privilege or any other aspect of society?

  • Jodie Daniels

    Thanks for this dude. Coming from a guy especially, it’s refreshing and so, so needed. It’s just sad that, for example I had to write this article, I’d be seen as a ‘feminazi’ or ‘typical dramatic female’. Hence I say, this is so needed from a guy. Lastnight’s experience at the Covenant prescreening in CT, and the utter rudeness displayed by management in particular was disgusting. A guy eventually lead the walk in with his group of mixed gender friends, and that started us all just walking in so that was awesome. This whole thing just shows how backward as a society we still are when it comes to gender unbiased anything.

    Big ups for this piece!

    • *checks title* It says it was written by Tracy though.

      • Jodie Daniels

        Merp! My bad. Thought it was written by another writer. Have edited. Thanks for the headsup ✌

    • miaau

      This sounds like a joke, like an urban legend.

      So, it seriously happened, then. Wow. I am speechless, really.

      What sort of logic did the cinema present for this choice?

  • Gideon Venter

    I was legit surprised to find this happening. I then thought for a minute or so, and I’m now less surprised, and more sad. This is stupid.

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