Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are Male Shoulders Offensive? This Bar Manager Says They Are.

I met a couple of buddies downtown Kingston last night.
Buskers fire show on Princess St.
After watching the Buskers fire show on Princess street we decided to play a couple of games of pool at the Grizzly Grill. It was a hot evening and one of my friends, Ed, had worn a sleeveless shirt. 

The Grizzly Grill has a bar and pool tables upstairs and another bar with a dance floor below. Women of all ages hang out on both floors and, as is typical, many were scantily dressed in sleeveless and strapless tops, and mini-skirts, in the usual manner intended to attract attention. That's fine, I don't mind a bit. These young women are proud of their bodies and they have every right to show off in virtually any manner they wish.

Ed was given this t-shirt to hide his "offensive" muscles.
The young woman's strapless dress was perfectly fine. 
But that right was not extended to Ed. We weren't there five minutes before a bouncer appeared and told Ed he had to put on a different shirt. The female manager found Ed offensive in his "muscle shirt." He wasn't topless. His shirt was clean and of high quality. His shorts were also nice looking. But she considered the muscle shirt "offensive." Ed didn't have another shirt with him, and he was genuinely apologetic, so the bouncer brought him a t-shirt, seen here, to cover up his "offensive" muscles.

Can you imagine the outrage and protests if one of the women were asked to put on a shirt?
Most of them were showing far more skin than Ed, but there would be a Global protest with feminists marching in the streets decrying the incident as proof of the patriarchal oppression of women. News teams would camp outside the bar owner's home where he would gush apologetically for the cameras, begging the public to forgive his unthinkable crime. If you think this is an exaggeration, look at the media frenzy last week when Madelyn Shaeffer of Missouri was asked to wear a pair of shorts over her bikini bottom: abcNEWSHuffington Post, UPI.com, abcNEWS YouTubeNew York Daily News, and even in the UK at the Daily Mail.

Now, I am a straight male, but I have to say, Ed has very well-formed shoulders. I wish I had shoulders like that, and if I did, I would probably want to show them off. So, why shouldn't Ed be allowed to display his muscles? It's not as if he wants to lay out his manhood up on the bar. It's shoulders for crying out loud! 

I told the bouncer that this was unfair, and pointed out that most of the women wore less than Ed. His only response was "we have a dress code."

This is clearly a double standard, and it's not restricted to this bar. I have heard the term "wife-beater shirt" used by both male and female friends to describe muscle shirts. This smear would deter many men from wearing a muscle shirt, even if they had Olympian shoulders. It effectively limits men's options, which is  a form of oppression according to feminist definitions.

Unfortunately, this sort of man-shaming tactic is ubiquitous. I have frequently heard women call a man a "creep," "wimp," or "pervert" for doing little more than glancing in her direction.

Why is it that men don't complain? One-time feminist and famous novelist, Doris Lessing, touched on this a dozen years ago, stating that men "were the new silent victims in the sex war, 'continually demeaned and insulted' by women without a whimper of protest."

There won't be any protests, no marches, no NEWS teams, nothing. It's not discrimination because Ed is male. And that is offensive.