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We live in an era with a lot of noise. Things happen, and the Internet reacts. Which is why I suppose it's no surprise that when the famous Alamo Drafthouse decided to offer a couple of ladies-only screenings of Wonder Woman, a lot of people rushed on to social media to explain their varying opinions on the screenings. Now, a male lawyer named Stephen Clark, who works as a professor at Albany Law School, has filed an administrative charge with Austin, Texas' Equal Employment and Fair Housing Office. He recently said that he's a gay man and he doesn't feel the women's-only screenings are fair because they are discrimination.
It's the principle of the thing. I'm a gay man, and I've studied and taught gay rights for years. Our gay bars have long said that you do not exclude people because they're gay or straight or transgender --- you just can't do that for any reason. We have to deal with the bachelorette parties that come to the gay bar. They're terribly disruptive, but if you forbid women from coming to a gay bar, you're starting down a slippery slope. It's discrimination.
According to Stephen Clark, you can't keep straight people out of gay bars because that would be discrimination, and you also can't keep men out of the Alamo Drafthouse, because that would be gender discrimination. At first, that may sound like it makes a lot of sense when expounded out, but the situation is also a whole lot more nuanced than that. It's not as if the Texas movie theater chain said, "Men, you aren't allowed to come to our movie theater chain anymore." Instead, the chain offered a couple of ladies-only screenings among a slew of other regular screenings on opening night.
Years ago, laws were put into place to protect minority populations that had suffered for years from discriminatory practices. As other law professor Stacy Hawkin told the Washington Post, a couple of women's-only screenings aren't the same thing as the "Old Boys Clubs" of old that both wouldn't let women or minorities in. The couple of female-oriented screenings also didn't affect the jobs of any of the males working for the theater that night, as they could simply have worked other jobs or on other movies that were showing. Still, a simple tweak of the language on the company's website may have made the whole situation seem a little less aggressive. (E.g. language like "when we say 'People Who Identify As Women Only,' we mean it.")
I'm still a little wowed that a couple of Wonder Woman screenings have led down this complaint-laden path. There were plenty of other opportunities for men and women to see the movie together this weekend, and from the looks of the box office a lot of people did so. Alamo Drafthouse has already said the theater chain is sorry that it may have caused "confusion" and made it seem as if they didn't want the dudes to see the film. The event was just supposed to be a fun ladies night out, and it became a whole different deal.