January 20th, 2010

The High Cost of Free Drinks

Booze for BoobsLocal nightspot Overeasy made news sites and blogs the world over with its recent ‘Fill My Cups’ marketing ploy. It offered free drinks to women based on their bra size – and it was rewarded with a full house.

Reactions to the gimmick were mixed, with some defending it as a bit of fun and others decrying it as demeaning women.

 
AWARE has sent this letter to the Straits Times Forum:

“We refer to the “Fills My Cups” event organized by Overeasy at One Fullerton (ST, 18/01/2010). Overeasy is run by Lo & Behold which also runs “Loof” and the “White Rabbit”.

The bar invited women to enjoy free alcohol based on the size of their breasts. The event was reportedly well-attended and women who had bigger breasts received more “free” drinks.

There is nothing free about letting a room of people gawk at your breasts. Even if a woman is willing to pay the personal price of loss of dignity, there is still a cost suffered by other women. The women who participated in the event have contributed to the objectification of women, to reducing a woman’s value to her breast size and have helped reinforce the belief amongst men that this is not only acceptable but welcome.

Staging this event in itself is extremely distasteful. Just because sexism is profitable does not make it right. For the organisers to say that this is just “good fun and not sexist or sleazy” (New Paper, 17/01/2010) is insincere. The indignity is suffered only by one gender.

It is unfortunate there are women willing to make this choice so lightheartedly. The individual woman may view her participation as an act of empowerment. Perhaps she feels she should use whatever assets she has to secure favours for herself. In our sex and youth obsessed culture it is not surprising some women would grow to be so cynical.

Yes, women have the right to choose, but individual choices are made in a social context. And in our current social context, women have a much harder time being esteemed as individuals above and beyond their value as sex objects.

This event perpetuates the notion of women as sex objects and makes it that much more difficult for each woman who wants to be valued for her character and contribution rather than how she stacks up to a distorted image of the ideal body.

The personal choice (for the participants) and the private choice (for the corporation) has had a detrimental social impact.

Choice works both ways. The organisers may have successfully packed their venue on the evening, but they may well have lost future business at Overeasy and their sister establishments.”

What do you think about the Fill My Cups marketing gimmick, and the stand taken by AWARE?

Share your thoughts.

“As a woman, I would feel ashamed to go there and reveal my cup size, just for a free drink. Why is it whenever somebody comes up with a sexy idea for a publicity stunt, it’s always women who become the bait? It makes us women look so cheap, revealing our private assets for the pleasure of lusty men, just to get free drinks.”
   – boobytrap @STOMP
“And before some random person decides to come by and say that it’s sexual empowerment, that women can decide where and when they want to show their bodies in whatever context they like: yes, it’s their body. Yes, it’s their life. But this entire thing is reducing women to the size of their breasts.”
   – Fiona on Dog-matic
The perks of having boobs in a sex-sells-society. Why do we complain though? Tell me, which alcohol taste better than proper vodka which does not cost a cent?
   – Doranne on The girlfriends

20 Comments ...

  1. Think we all need to lighten up. Some people get free drinks because they have a big personality. Others get them because of their big wallets and the possibility of more business. So why not big breasts too. If you want to make noise, wait for the promo for men with big … Don’t tell me you won’t be laughing along with the rest of us. Not everything is about demeaning women.

    #441
  2. Not sure how my entry got on this page in the first place, but here is my two cents worth.

    #443
  3. Tania De Rozario

    Congratulations Mark. With your opening lines, you’ve managed to place equal value on the size of one’s personality, the size of one’s spending power and the size of one’s breasts.

    As for waiting for a promo using men’s assets as bait: No, if that were to happen, I would -not- be laughing along with the rest of you. Because there is nothing funny about any human being reducing themselves to a body-part for the purpose of being priced.

    But then again, perhaps neither you nor I would be able to anticipate our reactions to such a situation because men are rarely ever used as bait when sex is used to sell products/brands.

    I agree with you one thing: Not everything is about demeaning women. But intention does not excuse nor alter outcome. Are beer advertisements positioning women as sex objects about demeaning women? No. They’re about selling beer. However, this does not mean that the ad does not demean women at the same time.

    #445
  4. E V Lynn

    Tania is so right. We live in a society where there is so little AWAREness!!!

    #447
  5. Anonymous

    overeasy whom give free drinks nv complain
    ladies whom got free drinks nv complain
    men whom paid to attend nv complain

    but pp whom were not there complain ..
    haha

    #453
  6. jH Ng

    The company itself has to share some blame, however, putting the full share on blame on it would be unfair. Please let’s all remember that we all have free will in this case. If the lady does not wish to be ‘exploited’, then she wouldn’t head down in the first place. I don’t think there’s a need to pull woman/man comparisons here. I think most women who frequent this site and are smart enough wouldn’t be the kind who goes down to places like this. Which makes us all armchair critics. Perhaps if we had a respondant who was actually there and participated in this whole event.

    #454
  7. unAWARE

    I wonder why AWARE is not writing to forum pages on the zillions of ads, restaurants (hooters?), movies that degrade women but so much about this? Please…..face the facts…sex sells and many people are buying…stick to other issues ladies

    #456
  8. I wasn’t at the bar but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with men admiring a woman’s breasts. Breasts *are* beautiful. Why shouldn’t they be admired? Would you prefer men to completely ‘desex’ women? First, that’s not possible because we’re genetically programmed to look for a sexual mate. Second, a ‘desexed’ world would be utterly boring. I have more comments on my blog (http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com) if you’re interested.

    #458
  9. Simo

    Dear KT,
    There’s nothing against admiration or being admired. I’m afraid you might have missed the point. The promotion capitalized and reinforced on societal unequal setting of value based on a person’s physical attributes. I’m sure you will find it problematic if one particular color of a person’s eyes is valued more than another.

    #475
  10. Shanna-Mae Therese

    I am a woman. I am not a feminist and never will be. I am a pre-school teacher and I have never believed in any other difference between men and women in their abilities other than their physical and emotional strength. As a teacher, I have not once described a child’s ability based on his or her gender and can therefore safely say that I am not gender-biased.

    Mark, first of all, i have never heard of men being made objects of judgement based on the size of their assets and i would be surprised it ever happened.
    my spending power and personality are in no way linked to the size of my breasts and would never be. would the size of your penis determine how much you could spend at a restaurant or bar or whether or not you might get free drinks from an establishment? i hope not.
    and you don’t have to worry, mark. not all smart women think that ‘everything is about demeaning women’ but we recognise when some absolutely foolish party at a bar is.

    Doranne, why the comment about your comment. were you upset to see that it made it to this page? cos forgive me, but i think it was a real dumb point. the best vodka to me is the one that i paid for by myself through my own earned efforts.

    KT, there is nothing wrong with admiriing someone. Of course, being socially correct, I would never walk up to a woman and openly admire her breasts although I have seen many women with admirable assets. This party had nothing to do with admiring someone. It was judging them instead.

    I am not surprised that this party saw such a great response. Sex sells now and we have to face it.

    But knowing this, I choose neither to be a buyer or a seller. I have values and I honour myself too highly to be subjected to any of this rubbish.

    If you can sleep at night, knowing that you got a free bottle because of your breast size, then so be it. But please, do not put the message out there, telling the rest of the world that other women, who have the dignity of being a real woman, are ok with it.

    #476
  11. ‘I would never walk up to a woman and openly admire her breasts although I have seen many women with admirable assets. This party had nothing to do with admiring someone. It was judging them instead.’

    Shanna-Mae Therese, so you think some women have ‘admirable assets’ and some don’t. Isn’t that judging them? Of course, no one should openly comment on or gawk at an erogenous zone of a man or woman. But if the context is right – such as during a marketing event like “Fill My Cups” – I really don’t see any harm in openly doing what we secretly do all the time.

    #509
  12. ‘The promotion capitalized and reinforced on societal unequal setting of value based on a person’s physical attributes. I’m sure you will find it problematic if one particular color of a person’s eyes is valued more than another.’

    Simo, society is discriminatory no matter where, no matter when. Discrimination may be based on physical attributes such as breast size and eye colour. Or it may be based on character, intellect, academic qualifications, race, religion and family background. Discrimination happens because that’s how nature selects the fittest. What makes discrimination by physical attributes more vile than the other criteria?

    To answer your question, I wouldn’t be upset if I don’t have society’s preferred eye colour. I would just use coloured lenses. It’s easier than trying to convince everyone there’s nothing wrong with my eyes. Anyway, they have every right to pick whatever eye colour they like. Who am I (or Aware) to say their preference is right or wrong?

    #510
  13. Simo

    Dear KT

    I agree that discriminatory of all kind still exist in society today, however that does not mean that one should condone it or not speak up against it. The notion of an ideal body image is a social construct; it is definitely not a derivation of nature.
    Therefore, I did not understand your argument point on discrimination as a form of natural selection where in this case, a person is treated differently just because their physical attributes do not adhere to society’s unequal perception of an body image. Any form of discrimination is vile, it is in opposition to a pluralistic society.

    You are an unique individual and it should be celebrated, I genuinely hope not to see one day when you have to hide your natural eye color in order to conform to a society guided by artificially perceived reality. Yes we all have our every rights to choose; but by some choices made we can revealed an apathetic and indifferent world view. By not speaking up we continue to acknowledge the fact that some woman are better than others simply by comparing their breast size.

    I understand that this is a marketing event and by reviewing most of the responses out there, I believed that people need to discuss how this and other body image consumerisms are affecting our preferences in our daily life.

    #518
  14. Simo, I didn’t say discrimination by physical attributes is not vile. I said it’s not necessarily *more* (or less) vile than other criteria such as intellect and character, two virtues that feminists love to extoll.

    I agree with you that ‘The notion of an ideal body image is a social construct . . . not a derivation of nature’. Sometimes, the ideal may involve perverse practices such as female genital mutilation and foot binding. Or grotesquely humongous breast implants that we see in some female sex workers. I oppose these definitions of what is ideal but I do not oppose the idea of having a definition. Nor the use of physical attribute for the definition. We can’t mate with all and sundry. We have to *select* someone or other. The selection process inevitably involves discrimination by some chosen criteria. Physical attribute in one form or another is one such criterion for men and most animals because nature makes them so. Don’t believe me? Go watch some animals’ mating rituals on TV.

    Accepting what nature makes us do is realistic, not apathetic, so long as nothing perverse is involved. Of course, what’s perverse to one may be perfectly normal for another. To me, extolling a ‘D’ cup is within my acceptable range.

    If you’re interested, I have more comments here: http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com

    #523
  15. Redfoot

    @KT: “Shanna-Mae Therese, so you think some women have ‘admirable assets’ and some don’t. Isn’t that judging them? Of course, no one should openly comment on or gawk at an erogenous zone of a man or woman. But if the context is right – such as during a marketing event like “Fill My Cups” – I really don’t see any harm in openly doing what we secretly do all the time.”

    Sorry, but there is harm in it. I wouldn’t go up to someone I thought was very attractive and comment on their physicality – it impinges on their personal space and is potentially harassing. I have more manners than that. This is why we have internal headspace, to think things that are not polite, meaningful or appropriate, and keep them to ourselves. How we then openly display that thought is the difference between conscious and self-aware people and animals. The physiological response is not the only one available to people, and by outwardly promoting a ‘hey we all do it, why not make some money from it’ approach is disingenuous, and unworthy of defending. Your reference to the ‘context’ as being ‘right’ in this instance is, I feel, a little bizarre.

    #524
  16. Noname

    Its appalling bad taste to say the least.
    This was a degradation of women by the women who took part in this bizzare event.
    They may well have misunderstood the concept of “self esteem”, or conveniently eliminated it from their consciousness!

    #539
  17. gl

    This whole issue is blown way out of proportion.

    Lets first pose ourselves these questions:
    1) Would the event be considered demeaning to women if it were other physical attributes being ‘compared’? E.g. height/weight/waist size/shoe size?

    Just because it was the bust size being compared made it demeaning? It wasn’t as if the participants had to strip?!

    It would be interesting to know if a pole-dancing competition would elicit such a response from AWARE.

    2) Does this event contribute to the notion that women with bigger assets are valued more in society than those with smaller assets?

    There are drinking competitions and other marketing gimmicks aplenty everywhere. You dont see people who can drink being valued more than those who cant.

    #561
  18. fu

    > Just because it was the bust size being compared made it demeaning?

    yes.

    > Does this event contribute to the notion that women with bigger assets are valued more in society than those with smaller assets?

    yes again. 2 for 2!

    wow that was easy.

    > There are drinking competitions and other marketing gimmicks aplenty everywhere.

    Right and nobody complains unless they are offensive like this one was… DUH.

    Boobs are about sex in case you haven’t heard. And women are constantly being told that it is only sex which makes them valuable. A shoe size competition doesn’t convey this message.

    #562
  19. gl

    exactly, a shoe-size competition wouldnt elicit such a response at all. society wouldnt value people for their feet just because of this competition. children wouldnt be brought up thinking that big feet is the way to go.

    boobs may be related to sex yes, but point is that it is not true that they are told that it is ONLY sex which makes them valuable.

    if we were put into the context of a different era, our fashion sense and dressings now might have been considered offensive as well. In such as case, wouldnt all of us be guilty of degrading women by past standards?

    To the contrary, despite an increase in the prevalence of such supposedly-demeaning activities over the years, more and more women are still climbing up the social ladder and achieving recognition, power and success in society. This event is not going to affect or change how society views women, and it is not going to hinder women’s progress in society.

    #564