Cafe policy: Does sexism change after 7pm?

Published: December 22, 2010
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If this policy was really just for “family only” in all instances, it would still make sense.

Ever walked into a restaurant with ‘the boys’ only to be turned away at the door?

If it were any other country, this would be regarded as blatant discrimination with the media having a “field day” for weeks and the owners getting sued. But here in Pakistan this is not the case, hence many prominent restaurants implement the “family only” policy after 7pm.

If this policy was really just for “family only” in all instances, it would still make sense. But this policy is just there to prevent single men or a group of single men being at the restaurant. Single women or a group of single women is welcomed with open arms. The trend setter in this regard is a prominent café at Khyaban-e-Shahbaz in Karachi. Although this policy did exist before as well, its implementation at such a high profile coffee joint inspired other new places to enforce it.

This so-called “thought out” policy as some claim is there so that these restaurants and cafes can be recognised as dating spots where girls are able to meet their boyfriends without people staring at them. It communicates a wrong set of social values that men come in just to ogle at girls.

Dating is a concept that has been borrowed from western culture; our (eastern) culture has no precedence of this. But as with everything we adopt from the west, we only go half way. We are promoting one aspect of that culture while suppressing the other, which is no discrimination or sexism. Hence, we are sitting on the fence; like being a mule, neither a horse nor a donkey! No western country would allow such discrimination by any establishment.

The implementation of this rule does not extend to the employees at these places. Employees serving there are usually in their early 20s and are mostly single. So the policy is just in place for the patrons.

What people need to realise is that, against popular belief, most adult men are not uncivilised and blokes may at times want to go out with each other to enjoy a nice meal or a cup of coffee and chill out. And with the price tags at some of these places, it discourages so-called uncivilised people anyhow.

I know it is hard to argue sexism over here as in Pakistan it is females who are mostly discriminated against but instead of trying to change that aspect and becoming more tolerant we have somehow managed to introduce another sexist attitude. This attitude is fueling the belief that many women over here already entertain that single guys are inherently trouble makers and exist only for the reason of making others uncomfortable. This policy needs to be looked at again and repealed soon!

Dr Amyn Malyk

Dr Amyn Malik

The author is a PhD student at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who likes to write. He tweets as @amynmalik

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