NYU’s Washington Square News, the student newspaper, has got to be one of the most depressing publications on the planet.* I have a special place in my heart for the paper because I worked there for three years, as a sports writer, an opinion columnist, and eventually as editor of the opinion section. I loved my time at the paper, and was lucky to work with an incredibly talented staff of writers. The paper was far from perfect when I worked there, and I certainly cringe when I go back and read some of my old columns.
But good god has it gone downhill. When they aren’t publishing apologist editorials for every shitty move the NYU administration makes and re-hashing things we all learned in first-year politics class, they’re printing barely-readable nonsense that breaks at least one of the basic rules of the opinion section: (1) It should be NYU-related; (2) It should not be a response to another column, an op/ed, or a letter; (3) It should be pertinent; (4) It should be well-written and well-reasoned.
Miller’s column passes the first three requirements, but crashes and burns on the fourth. Not only is it misogynist non-sensical drivel, it’s poorly-written and poorly-reasoned misogynist non-sensical drivel. Example A: How your girlfriend’s sister feels about how you feel about nightclubs is not a colorful anecdote. It is not relevant. No one cares, actually, and there’s absolutely no reason to include it in your piece.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the headline, which lets us all know the general flavor of things to come: “Girls exchange dignity for attention in trendy clubs.”
Let’s start with the basics: most clubs are either 18- or 21-and-over venues, so we aren’t actually talking about “girls” here but, in fact, adult women. And while the term “girls” is properly infantilizing and therefore fitting given the tone of the column, it’s factually inaccurate.
Now, section by section:
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest party night of the year, right? So girls, if you don’t have any plans yet, I have a novel suggestion: Call your friends, dress up like hookers, pre-game to dance music — and hit the club.
First, I’m not sure in what alternative universe the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest party night of the year, but ok, we’ll just assume that Gary Miller’s calendar is missing December 31st. And May 5th. And March 17th. And October 31st. And the various days of Mardi Gras.
That aside, I love the condescending tone, especially in the “dress up like hookers” line — because obviously hookers are the scum of the earth, and obviously women who show off their legs, or their stomachs, or their cleavage deserve to be treated like scum by self-righteous college newspaper columnists.
What else would you do? “The club” is your national pastime. It’s your American dream. It’s where you celebrate the luxurious, carefree life that you haven’t earned. And celebration is very necessary at the start of a four-day weekend.
One great thing about nightclubs is that regardless of the one you’re going to — or the town, state or country it’s in — you can always affectionately refer to it as “the club.” This is because all nightclubs are exactly the same, right down to their ridiculous, generic names, which are usually based on types of upholstery, colors or meteorological terms. I’m sure five new nightclubs will open somewhere next week: Blue Carpet, Fog, White Lace, Thread and Steam.
Haha! See, kids? Gary can be awkwardly unfunny and condescending at the same time! Clubs have the same names — stupid, cheesey names! Someone call Gail Collins, because this is journalistic gold.
My girlfriend’s sister worships nightclubs and thinks my distaste for them makes me a loser. But being in a relationship, I see absolutely no practical reason to go to a club. There are tons of other places my girlfriend and I can go, where a sweaty guy won’t start hitting on her every time I walk more than five feet away.
So don’t start to thinking that I’m only writing this column because the pretty girls in high school wouldn’t date me. I have a girlfriend, you know. A totally HOT girlfriend, and she’s so HOT that other dudes hit on her if I’m not clearly marking my territory. Because she’s HOT. And I’m not a loser, no matter what those other girls said.
Dane Cook once said that girls just go to clubs because they want to dance, while guys only go to clubs because they want to get laid. Well, he’s absolutely right about the guys. Guys at clubs don’t want dance, they don’t want to date you and they really don’t want to buy you drinks.
Imagine that — people wanting to go to clubs so that they can get laid! Who woulda thunkit? But only the guys, naturally, because everyone knows that women never seek out sex and real men hate dancing.
Drink prices are marked up over 1,000 percent. A $30 bottle of vodka is sold for at least $350. Few other markets can clear with pricing like that. Can you imagine paying $23 for a bottle of Pepsi at a restaurant? No, that would be absurd. Clubs are quite the economic spectacle. The more expensive the club, the more prestigious you’ll perceive it, right? More prestige equals more patrons. This is the inverse of how prices are supposed to drive a market.
On top of that, demand is artificially inflated at the door. Though the place is empty, they make everyone wait in line to create the illusion of popularity. Then they let girls cut the line. And they let them in for free, while men are charged $20, sometimes more.
Pray that little Gary is not studying economics, sociology, psychology or business, because he’s in a heap o’ trouble if he thinks that clubs are an “economic spectacle” and somehow different from various other comsumer products and services which are wildly overpriced because of perceived “prestige” status.
Why, at the velvet rope, do we abandon our normal expectations of gender equality? No one bats an eye in complaint. Everyone just shrugs, as if it makes sense.
And by “normal expectations of gender equality,” Gary actually means, “Bitch, get me a beer.”
Maybe this is because equality is for humans. You girls are not humans inside a club; you’re commodities, like bottles of vodka, to be sold. And you unknowingly consent to this. A club’s success can hinge on the amount of girls inside. They sell you — you’re why guys pay to get in.
Thank you, Big Daddy Gary, for explaining in which situations I am and am not human (also, is it possible to “unknowingly consent” to something?). This view is so incredibly reductive and rudimentary that I’m not even sure where to start with it. But I’m sure glad that our insightful, brilliant friend is able to educate all of us feeble-minded women about our roles as objects to be sold, and under which conditions he does not approve of our sale.
To me, this is an extremely backward practice in our progressive country. But this position as a commodity is exactly what you girls crave, isn’t it? It plays right into your insecurities — it gives you a sense of importance and worth that you probably don’t find elsewhere. The truth is that you girls want as much attention as possible, short of becoming prostitutes, right? Don’t worry, Kanye West said it’s okay to be self-conscious.
See? He listens to Kanye West! Kanye West is totally hip, right? No one will ever say that Gary Miller is a loser!
No, Gary Miller is in fact able to discern the motivations of every single adult “girl” who has ever stepped into a club. They’re doing it for attention! Not because they like the music, not because they like dancing, not because they like getting dressed up and going out, and not because they enjoy other people finding them attractive in addition to all of these things. No, “girls” who go to clubs are motivated by a single desire, and that is for men to pay attention to them. They would just be prostitutes, because prostitutes get so much positive male attention, but the club is good enough for them. Because they’re basically worthless otherwise.
But I’m tired of being criticized for my view of “the club,” as if I just don’t get it or something. I get it. The club is all you have. It’s the perfect place for you — with the music too loud to talk over, you don’t have to feel embarrassed that you never have anything interesting or intelligent to say.
Yes, clearly you get it. The women who go to clubs do so because they don’t want to be embarassed over not having anything interesting and intelligent to say. God bless ’em, and maybe you should take note. After all, at least they’re apparently self-aware enough to realize their profound lack of ability to say anything remotely interesting or intelligent, and pick a hobby that relieves the rest of us from having to suffer through their inane commentary. You, on the other hand, choose to write a column in the Washington Square News.
But sarcasm aside, can he possibly be serious? I’m not much of a club-goer, but I’ve certainly been to my fair share. And you can bet that I like loud music. In fact, I’d bet that some of our favorite — and brilliant — insufferable music snobs also enjoy their fair share of loud music. This is clearly because they are morons with nothing to contribute to society.
I wonder, too, if he would make similar comments about kids who go to rock shows, or movie buffs, or marathon runners, or other people whose hobbies aren’t exactly conducive to in-depth conversation. I don’t think so. Women who go to clubs (notice he never says that men go to clubs because they’re uninteresting idiots) are easy targets because, well, they’re women. Women whose choices he doesn’t agree with, and therefore reduces to illogical or silly or self-defeating or narcissistic.
You just dance. Then you meet a guy, he buys you drinks, you go home with him, then you wait by your phone the whole next week; but he doesn’t call until he’s really drunk at 3 a.m. the following Saturday. So you analyze every detail of your encounter with your friends. You start to think maybe he’s just busy. But really, you’re just the slut from last week.
Gary Miller knows every detail of your life in the clubs, ladies. All of you go home with random guys, and then cry your eyes out when they don’t call. This is because you’re a big ol’ slut. See, Gary knows that every woman who has ever been to a club has fucked a guy she met there. And Gary knows that no woman alive would seek out sex on her own, and not feel bad about it and not torture herself over whether or not he’ll call.
At this point, I’m just feeling really bad for Gary’s girlfriend. Who wants to date someone who views adult women as unwitting “girls” who have no idea what they’re doing until a big smart man comes in and gives them a much-needed finger-wagging talking-to? And who wants to sleep with someone who views consensual sexual activity as a purely financial exchange, in which the man is always doing the buying?
See, the club is like a discount brothel. A guy pays a $20 cover charge, plus drinks, plus labor, to convince a girl to go home with him, instead of paying $200 up front for sex. It’s a lewd circus, and you girls are oblivious. I just try to see it for what it is. So, keep donating your bodies to the profit of “the club,” and keep parading around with your air of VIP prestige. Just remember that it goes hand in hand with a lack of dignity and self-awareness. Have a great four-day weekend.
As opposed to, say, “traditional marriage,” wherein a guy works full time, buys a house, and financially supports his wife and children in exchange for sex and housework.
But NYU “girls” sure are lucky to have a guy like Gary here to set us all straight. I mean, he’s so self-aware that he’s self-aware for us! We’re silly, oblivious little girls who have very little agency and no idea what our daily lives mean to us. When Gary comes in and tells us that we’re acting like prostitutes, he’s doing us a favor. In fact, he is so smart and insightful that he even knows the exact amount of dignity that we have based on how we spend our Friday nights. It’s incredible, really.
Aside from the blatant paternalistic tone, though, I’m getting a strong sense of bitterness. Why does Gary care whether or not women go to clubs on the weekends? You’re never going to catch me at a rave, but if you want to get out your candy necklace and your giant pants and your glowsticks and go have a good time, more power to ya. You probably also won’t catch me at a club, but if some other NYU student likes to go out dancing, I say have a good time.
I think there’s something deeper going on here, besides Gary’s obvious problem with misogyny. I can’t help but get the idea that Gary is very, very unhappy with women who go to clubs because he associates them with the kind of women who he fears will reject him. I’m trying not to get too armchair-psychologist here, but it seems that his entire purpose is to take the pretty girls down a peg or two. How else do you explain his argument that all women who go to clubs are stupid, uninteresting, slutty and attention-needy?
I know I’m being a little hard on Gary here, and I do feel a twing of guilt when I remind myself that he’s a sad, bitter little man who lacks basic logical reasoning skills and stumbles his way through life justifying his paternalistic nastiness by convincing himself that he “gets it.” But then I re-read his column, and I don’t feel so bad.
Thanks to Matt, whose writing I continue to enjoy, for the link.
*This, for the unfamiliar, is hyperbole. I do not actually hate the Washington Square News. There are many, many articles that they publish which are fantastic, and which I highly enjoy. I know that the entire WSN staff, especially the editorial board, works very hard to put out a high-quality paper every day of the week. My criticisms are based largely on the fact that the opinion section seems to have abandoned the basic editorial principles that were in place years before I ever got there, and seems to be afraid to take on the university administration in any substantial way. However, now I’m gone, and the new editors are welcome to do what they wish with the section. I may find it disappointing, but it’s not my paper, and while I may not agree with all of their editorial decisions, I nonetheless wish them the best of luck and think that they are doing a fine job.
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