While some bars and restaurants across the country are hosting fundraisers or supporting protests for International Women's Day on Wednesday, March 8, a few bars in New York are seemingly twisting the day's mission of fighting for women's equality into oddly self-promotional and not necessarily empowering events.
Learning that martinis at SideBar and Village Pourhouse would be $2 off (the special has since been changed to 2-for-1 martinis) on Wednesday in honor of International Women's Day, I, who enjoyed many a college night at Village Pourhouse, was confused. Would the $2 not be donated to pro-women's organizations? And how is drinking more gin empowering women?
Erika London, president of FB Hospitality Group, which owns both bars, filled me in on the bar's discount via email.
"Although every day is International Women's Day around here, we wanted to acknowledge the official holiday with 2-for-1 martinis encouraging women to celebrate themselves and the other incredible women in their lives," London said. "We have a predominantly female corporate and in-venue staff consisting of bold, intelligent, creative and ambitious women and acknowledge their skill sets, individuality, personal and professional achievements daily."
So... why martinis?
"Like women, martinis are strong, come in many different flavors and get the job done!" London said. Fair enough.
Another promotion to celebrate the so-called official holiday: Women can use the code word "BEAUTIFUL" at either bar for a free drink on Wednesday.
For many women, going to bars can be a constant struggle of trying to avoid unwanted conversation and often contact with men, plenty of whom believe it is their right to barge in on conversations or casually drape their arm around a woman's shoulder merely because she is female. Some bars, like Manhattan's Up & Up, have explicitly made rules against men approaching women against their will.
So why choose "beautiful" as a code word for women seeking out free drinks? "Sometimes women just need a reminder that they are beautiful both inside and out," London said.
Maybe. But on a day when thousands will join in solidarity to show the country what a day without women might feel like, we can think of a few alternative code words that might be more appropriate for the cause. "Equality," "strength" and "feminism" are just three suggestions for next year.