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Lindsay Laszio: In Da Club…Thirsty’s That Is

April 10, 2012

By Lindsay Laszlo

“In Da Club”… Thirsty’s That Is

Anyone who’s a UConn student that is twenty-one, has snuck into a campus bar, or has been to an 18+ bar night, can agree that it is quite the experience. Thirsty’s in particular is one of my personal favorites. Saturday night is lady’s night (what what), which means ladies get in for free, there are drink specials, great jams, and (duh) a ton of guys. After taking two Women Studies courses I have come to view the bar a little differently than I had at first. That isn’t to say that I don’t still go and have a great time, but I have noticed things that initially never occurred to me. I think that Thirsty’s is a great example of the affects of hip-hop culture and media on a young community. Several of the same stereotypes that we’ve discussed in class and in Deconstructing Tyrone, are evident at our very own bar on campus.

Firstly, I want to discuss the attire. Of course there is no dress code for the bar, however there are certainly expectations for how to dress and to sum it up; less is more. Girls, including myself, tend to dress for the male gaze. This means short skirts, tight clothes, heels, and makeup. While the choice of clothing is more reserved than the video girls in hip-hop culture, a parallel can be drawn between what is representative of females in the media and in society. By dressing in a particular way, women feed into the gendered expectations that are projected onto them. How one dresses for the bar is a personal choice, but when women do dress in a particular way there are rewards in the form of free drinks, attention, etc. Since male gaze has dominated hip-hop and the media, certain dress becomes the norm.

Secondly, I want to discuss the music. Like any club, or bar, Thirsty’s hosts DJs that play the most current and popular music. Many of these hip-hop songs have crude and offensive lyrics. For example, Big Sean’s “Dance A$$” says, “Bounce that ass, it’s the roundest, you the best, you deserve a crown, bitch.” I think every girl, including myself, negotiates this one when it comes on and we dance to it. It has a good beat, and I find the lyrics comical, but does that mean we enable the normalization of female objectification? In Deconstructing Tyrone the authors state, “others obey the sexist commands on the club dance floor and sing along, justifying it with a smug, internal common refrain” (Hopkinson & Moore, 86). Women have a tendency to negotiate music and its lyrics because it personally does not apply to them, but that allows music to make generalizations and stereotypes about women as a whole.

Lastly, this may get awkward, but I want to discuss the dance styles exhibited at the bar. Now I’d be lying if I said I never got up on stage and tried to bust a move or two with my friends, but why are girls the only ones to do it? By doing this, women mimic and fulfill the role of being a spectacle for men. And then on the dance floor, one second you’re dancing with your friends and then the next some guy comes up behind you, grabs you, and starts dancing with you (most often in an inappropriate manner and without your consent). In any other context, the latter situation would be a sexual harassment case, but for some reason at the bar, this is the norm. I think hip-hop culture has a strong influence on how people act and gives them a false sense of entitlement.

I always have a lot of fun on ladies night at Thirsty’s, but it’s interesting to take a step back and think critically about what is really going on. Does the ultimate level of “fun” have to entail these three elements or is that what “fun” is as it’s taught to us? Thirsty’s is just one of the many places where the impact of hip-hop culture and media is evident. As we have said in class, media impacts society and society impacts media. Overall this reciprocal relationship clearly creates implications on gender expectations in society. Below is a link to Nelly’s “Hot in Here” music video. Although the club shown is no Thirsty’s and girls don’t strip everywhere, there are similarities and parallels between the music video and the behavior displayed on campus.

Nelly’s “Hot in Here”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-qN6TCY85c

Hopkinson, Natalie & Natalie Y. Moore. “Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black

Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.” Cleis Press Inc. San Francisco, CA, 2006.

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12 Comments
  1. Rebecca Handel permalink

    After reading Deconstructing Tyrone and watching Dreamworlds 3, I also noticed that hip hop culture can be found in our very own community at UConn. When I think about the culture at Thirsty’s on campus, I also agree that it mirrors the culture of hip hop. Everyone, women included, sing their lungs out and happily dance to songs with lyrics that talk about violence, drugs, sexualizing women, being too drunk to realize what the songs are actually saying. A majority of the girls dress in scantily clad skirts and dresses and I have always wondered to myself, what if girls showed up to the bar in a sweatshirt and sweatpants? What would happen then? Unfortunately, I feel as if no one would ever be bold enough to take that risk since it would be going against the norm of the dress code that is expected for women. In addition, many of the girls at the bar throw themselves at guys and a number of the guys look girls up and down as if they are a piece of meat. After what I have learned in class, I now look at the bar with a different perspective and it makes me realize how much of an influence hip hop culture has on today’s youth.

  2. Jen Vitkus permalink

    I completely agree with everything in this post. Obviously, you only touched upon Thirsty’s in this particular post but I would definitely say that this behavior is especially noticeable at bars like Huskies as well. I too love to go out to the bars here at UConn and especially love lady’s night when I don’t have to spend a ton of money but lately I have been experiencing the same type of internal conflicts when I take part in these events. I can’t help but wonder if it’s possible to remain a true young feminist but still take part in this types of activities. It was especially interesting to me how you pointed out that the entire thing is for the male gaze- I completely agree and it actually terrifies me. A lot of girls at UConn, my friends and I included, always get dressed up to go out and look good, etc etc.. however when you really start to think about who’s benefitting from all of it it’s quite disturbing. Not to mention that you were dead-on when you said that a Saturday night at Thirsty’s is way too similar to a Nelly music video or any other hip hop video with girls falling all over guys wearing hardly any clothes. I wonder if there’s a way to still go out to bars at UConn without participating in this type of male gaze, music video type scene.

  3. Megan Demetros permalink

    I agree with 100% percent of what your blog states, and I too am guilty of participating in this cycle. Before taking two women’s studies classes I never thought that “Lady’s Night” at Thirtsy’s was a bad thing. I just thought “Hey, free cover and specials!” What’s the harm in that? The reality is that Lady’s Night is tactic for bars to get lots of girls into their bar for free and get them liquored up on specials. Guys then come to the bars where Lady’s nights are happening so they can have an increased percentage of girls to talk to. When it is explained in that way say it sounds disgusting. However, along with thousands of other girls, I still keep going. But I do make sure to watch out my friends and myself, just in case.

  4. Gabby Masters permalink

    Me and my friends always look forward to saturday night because it’s “Ladies’ Night” at Thirtsy’s. We love it because 1. we get in free and 2. we get cheap drinks, but taking a more critical look at these two reasons it’s apparent that our enthusiasm over Ladies’ Night is quite problematic. I just read the chapter “My Big Fat Unnecessary Wedding and Other Dating Diseases” in Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism, where she talks specifically about Ladies’ Night. When you think about it, it’s actually a pretty creepy idea. Guys know that the bar is going to lure in tons of women because cover is free, and they also know that these women will probably be drunk off their asses because of the drink specials. So the bar basically profits from these paying guys who in some kind of predatory way are going to the bar for the abundant amount of intoxicated women they are going to find. It stinks to really realize this because honestly I love Ladies’ Night. But Valenti is right, and Lindsay is right. We really need to take a more critical lens ad analyze some of the stuff we do which perpetuates problems of patriarchy.

  5. Cassy Setzler permalink

    I think your post is the perfect example of the negotiating behavior that we learned in class. Although we know things like degrading music aren’t great for women’s self-esteem or self-image – we still choose to socialize in areas that have these things. They’re almost inescapable! When you think about it – we as college students like to surround ourselves with friends, alcohol, dancing, food, etc. – which is totally understandable. At UConn, the easiest places to find these things are at bars, that work off making a quick buck from students, and don’t care about the music they’re playing, etc. There are no other places to really go to socialize and have a good time without sexism, homophobia, etc. As a huge feminist, I still go out to places like this, because it’s where everyone else goes. And it’s definitely too bad. So I find myself negotiating this all the time. I definitely can relate to this post!

    Responding to another comment on this blog… I DO go to the bar in jeans and a hoodie every week – and I still get hit on! Just goes to show how much we as women get worked up about what we are going to wear, when in reality, there are people that like us for who we are! It’s interesting how sometimes we villianize men and think they will only like a woman if they dress in a short skirt and straighten their hair – when really, it’s not always true. Of course, I don’t blame women, or anyone, for this type of thinking. Rather, I blame the media for pushing women to think that they have to look a certain way to attract a partner. But that’s a whole other story! 🙂

  6. Alyssa Suhr permalink

    After reading this post, I honestly could not have said anything better myself. Every scenario, every description, just everything about this blog post was dead on. The whole time I read it I literally just ran through myself being at Thirsty’s and had a clear cut image of everything that you discussed. I myself had always thought it was funny how certain behaviors (such as the way a guy grabs you to dance) are acceptable in this particular setting but would be outlandish in others. However, seeing as this is my first Women’s Studies class, I never took it all a step deeper and thought about the different gazes that were being used in all these situations. It is beyond true to say that almost every single action that deals with going out is influenced by the male gaze. We wear certain things to get noticed, get drinks, for someone to dance with us, etc. We even take it a step further to literally put ourselves on a pedestal (dancing on stage) to be seen through this male gaze. I think that it is important to realize that this is what actually is going on, but I think until everyone truly understands this, the cycle will continue of impressing others through this narrow gaze.

  7. Dan Naurato permalink

    After reading this blog, I had a few different emotions. After reading the book Deconstructing Tyrone, it is easy to notice that what happens at bars is representing the hip-hop culture. Women dress in skimpy and tight clothes to get attention, look good, or impress men. I have been to the bar many times, and I would be lying if I said that I did not choose to go to Thirsty’s because it was ladies night. To be honest, thats the only reason I ever go there. I think it is funny because although a lot of men or women do not think that this kind of atmosphere is appropriate, they continue to be the ones who take part in it. Sure, you know that it isn’t right, but you go anyway. I feel like that is very contradicting to what a “feminist” stands for. If you are a feminist, that is perfectly fine, but I think a lot of people want to believe they are, but their actions do not portray any such thing.

  8. Leah Moskowitz permalink

    After reading your blog post, I kept thinking to myself, “you’re right, you’re right, we do, do that, my friends do do that”. We are subscribing to these very images that we are so critically analyzing in class. I am guilty of it myself. I love dancing, going shopping for the stereotypical “bar or club” outfit, but not once do I think to myself why I am doing this? And whats interesting to think about as well is that is they started playing more conservative music or making a dress code, the bar would completely loose business! Pop culture and UConn pop culture as well also subscribe to these images. We let men dance with us, often not knowing who it is. We dance on the speakers in order to get attention and we let this men just sit there and watch. It definitely is something to take a step back and look at.

  9. Emily Pizzale permalink

    I myself enjoy going to the bar, especially as a senior on my way out to the real world. I am the person my friends look to at the bar to shove jerks off of them and tell them off. The sense of entitlement these men display in groping and grabbing women, dancing with them without them consent and shoving their hands in shirts and up skirts is disgusting. Theres no other way to put it. When any man walks up behind me and starts thrusting into my butt its definitely not a turn on. Sadly this has been turned into the norm at any on campus bar, so much so that young women, my friends included are afraid to say no. They actually feel like THEYRE being the rude ones! The number of times I have had to shove a guy back several times before he gets it is uncountable. Whats really great is when I tell a guy my friend doesn’t want to dance with him and he has no right to her body and then the guy comes back at me with either anger or shock that I would speak to him or at his worst tries to dance with me instead. Guys look at my like I’m crazy when I slap they’re hands off my butt. The bars around uconn are a perfect implication of uconn’s overall culture, a lack of respect for women and a sense of entitlement for young men. I’ve been to bars in Boston and other places, not next to a college campus and the atmosphere is much different. This is just another example of the ways in which a college campus atmosphere breeds disrespect and violence against women.

  10. Even from a male standpoint I would have to agree with a lot being said in this article. Like the author I too have been to Thirsty’s many a time and seen the same sights she describes. As a guy, I completely agree with what she mentioned about the dress code. Although there is one posted it is almost an unwritten rule that as a man at UConn you will wear either a polo, button down or some flashy shirt with jeans paired with the staple Sperry top siders. A lot can be said about the bar and its pressure to conform it imposes on its visitors. She also brings up an important point that I never really got until just now. You never see a man dancing up on stage. Ever. That being said I do see how this practice alone carries on the notion of the objectification of women, transforming girls just trying to have a good time into objects to watch. Overall, I really like how she took the material we’ve been learning and applied it to the real world here at UConn

  11. Scott Kidd permalink

    You can also compare this blog to the Rock ‘n’ Out of the Box book as well. In that story there was a group of females hanging out at a bar and a man approaches them and begins flirting with them. The girls responded to the man by acting as if they were a male talking to a female the way he had approached them, and he was insulted and walked away. It is pretty sad that a lot of men at the bars are looking for one thing, and that is to leave with one of the many women at the bar. Now I’m not saying “every” guy is like this, but I think most will agree that a lot of them do. You also see men trying to get as drunk as they can to see who can drink more than the other, which in the end just makes them look like morons by the end of the night. I myself enjoy a lot of music that have a good dance beat to them, but I mainly enjoy the music for the beat and not for what they are saying in the song. Once you actually stop and listen to what they are actually saying it’s always the rapper or singer saying “girls get out on the floor” or whatever. This is what media and pop culture promotes and drills into our heads as we grow up.

  12. Cecily Pacheco permalink

    Lindsay also raises some great points in her blog with the need to recognize our own faults. In class, we talk a great deal about perception in the media and the ways in which women are stigmatized and influenced to dress and act. The women in class, including myself, often talk down on women in music videos and the ways in which they choose to act. However, while we may not allow men to pour drinks on us or display these acts on television, we still take part in many of the same behaviors we criticize video girls for today.
    While we may go to the bar or to the club every week or every so often to relieve stress, hang with friends, and have fun, we still have to consider the way we dress and act as a means of getting attention from the opposite sex. Much like Lindsay described in her article, we wear clothes and may occasionally partake in a bar-top dance to gain attention from men, yet get upset when we feel insulted because a man looked at us a certain way. While I feel that we as women should be able to express ourselves in whichever we like, we need to be cognizant of our actions and portrayal before we judge others. I am definitely guilty of throwing on a mini-skirt or a sheer see-through shirt, and get upset when a man does not stop staring. While I should be able to dress like this without being pre-judged, we have to consider the likely behaviors that will occur nonetheless. Lindsay also mentioned that there is no dress code for the bar, so we do have the options of throwing on a pair of sweat pants and sneaker… but do we? Maybe we should try going to the bar with this particular outfit and observing the reactions you will get from people. We have to consider our own behaviors before we are so quick to judge that of others.

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