‘Girls Night In’ boycotts criticised for stopping women from reclaiming the streets

Photo, 'Close up of drinks at the club' by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

The recent night club boycotts following an increase in drink spiking has led to women in the UK questioning if this is the best method for real change. 

Over the past week, social media has been flooded with ‘Girls Night In’ campaigns encouraging people to boycott local clubs after many young women have shared their spiking experiences online. The campaign is urging women to stay in for the night and not visit local clubs and bars in order to put pressure on businesses to place tighter measures.

The boycotts began with an intention to raise awareness and make clubs increase security to protect women on nights out. Valentina Gentilin, a cocktail waitress at MNKY HSE; a Latin American restaurant and bar in London, told Voice of London that ‘Girls Night In’ “could have a big impact on our business as a lot of our clients are women”. She believes that the boycott will be effective, but only if it’s done more than once: “the more impact it has on a business, the more people are going to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter”.

Showing her support for the campaign, Valentina believes that it’s important for staff to be aware of how prevalent the issue is and know how to intervene. “Awareness and information on the subject is essential for everyone working in hospitality”, she told us:

“Once everyone is aware, you can then move to the next step which is ‘what can I do to make women feel safe’.”

However, many have shown concern that the boycotts are placing too much pressure on women to alter their behaviour, causing girls to give into the issue rather than reclaiming their nights out. Anna, 23, told us that she will not be participating in the boycotts because “it puts across the idea that women are not allowed to have fun and should constantly live in fear of men”. Anna also mentioned that spiking doesn’t just occur in clubs so it isn’t really tackling the occurrence of spiking as a whole.

From this, it has been suggested that these boycotts will have little effect as this issue needs a bigger societal change, one which requires education on the topic and cooperation from the venues. Yana, a student at the University of Westminster told Voice of London that:

“We should be teaching people not to spike others, instead of putting all the work on the victim. A lot also lies with clubs and their security but we should certainly not be victim blaming.”

She went on to explain that security should be taught more about how to spot the signs that someone has been spiked and how to treat someone in that situation.

More than 30 cities in the UK are expected to be involved in the boycotts over the next two weeks, with the London ‘Girls Night In’ taking place on the 5th November.

However, with the vast amount of night clubs and bars in London, the majority of which aren’t just populated by students, it is unclear how effective the boycotts will be in bigger cities. Could contacting the clubs directly to get straight to the issue be a more effective method in tackling night clubs specifically?

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Words: Tia Janowski | Subbing: Hannah Ozkadi

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