Why Pay More?

I’ve subscribed to the google calendar of Nycaltevents. There’s TONS of event listings on there and when you combine it with the events list I subscribe to from Conversio Virium, my calendar is filled with kink, poly and swinger events.

I was browsing through and noticed this:


I knew that events at Paddles always ran more for men than women, but I’ve never really understood why.

$5 for women and $25 for men? Guys pay five times more?

Obviously this isn’t the only event that does this. I don’t blame them for doing it. I just don’t understand why. There are plenty of events where women get in free but men need to take out a mortgage, sell some plasma and put your autographed photo of Ted Knight up on ebay.


I’ll miss you Ted.

So why do men have to pay more?

The main argument seems to be that women aren’t willing to pay more but men will. It’s not worth it for women to shell out extra cash.

Why not? There’s kinky stuff going on, don’t women want to be part of it as much as men? Is the desire less? They’re desire to go to an event ends at paying more than five bucks but men have five times the desire so they’ll pay 25?

The other argument is that men won’t show up if women don’t show up. Doesn’t the same logic say that if men don’t show up, then women won’t show up? Besides, when I first moved here I went to Paddles a number of times where it was just me and a bunch of guys standing around despite the discount price for women.

On the other hand I’ll be going to Smack on Friday where everyone pays the same price and there’s usually a 50/50 ratio of men to women. It’s more fetish than BDSM, maybe that’s why more women show up. There’s less sexual stuff going on.

Perhaps it goes back to the age old question: If women are just as into this stuff as men, where are these women? Why are men paying a hundred bucks to get into a swingers event and women can walk in for free? Are the men like myself who want to go to events like these so horrible and disgusting that the only way a woman will go is if she has nothing better to do?

I posed this question via twitter and a few people responded.

“Also, men are more willing to pay for sexual stimulation. More female prostitutes than male. Is it fair? No. But reality.”

“Instead of viewing it as a higher charge, look at it as a discount for women (which is what it is.) Doesn’t help you, tho.”

“Specifically to annoy you. No other reason.”

Maymay gave me some of his wisdom via twitter. “The reason kink/fetish events are cheaper for women is blatantly obvious: sexism. Women are products, men are the consumers.”

Oh how I wish this wasn’t true. If only I were being the one consumed and used like a product.


As I mentioned via Twitter as well, when I go out to kink events like this with a significant other, here’s how I expect to look at the costs:

$5 for women + $25 men / 2 people = we each pay $15 entry fee

I’d consider any woman or man in a supposedly equal relationship, D/s or otherwise, who doesn’t also do that sexist.

beyond paddles, its a good nyc tradition…men will always pay more. what kills me though is there is no intermediate price for showing up as a couple. you’d think they could come up with $20 for that.

I think it’s the same mentality behind the “ladies’ night” tactic. When it comes to nightlife, women often wind up being the entertainment whether they know it or not, whether they’re getting paid to be or not. Men are the customers to be respected. Women are part of the product the establishments are selling. Offering women shitty drinks for free if they come wearing mini-skirts comes to mind. I think more and more women are catching on and prefer going to places who respect women as paying customers, instead of luring them in as poorly paid (oh, but free vodka and cranberry juice in plastic cups girls!) entertainment for the male customers. For this reason I personally avoid ladies’ nights and establishments in general who charge women less. Maybe it’s because I’m a working girl myself and when I go out for fun, I am going out to HAVE fun, not to BE fun without getting paid.

I consider myself a kinky person, and regularly play with power roles, and such. Yet, I have never gone to a fetish event that I was not organizing.

My small, liberal arts college has a yearly fetish ball, which is basically a fetish 101, rather than anything else. There is some play, but not a whole heck of a lot. Mostly it is a chance for people to see what they like, or are interested in in terms of sensation. As someone who likes this sort of thing, I end up on the organizing committee every year. Of our core group, I think three, out of maybe twenty five of us, have attended a fetish club event. Most of this core group are female, and a good portion of us identify as either tops, or switches.

Ever since I started reading your blog, I’ve been pondering this lack of females in the organized scene. Most academic studies of S/M, into the 90’s did not study females at all, as they were unable to locate a population that were not in S/M professionally.

This is drastically opposed to my experience, where females outnumber males by almost two to one. I realize that I am not, technically, considered part of “the scene” at all. I don’t attend play parties (I wouldn’t know where to find one!) I have not attempted to locate my local (non-college) kink community, which I have heard exists.


Well…I don’t need to. I have friends to talk to, lovers (from said group of friends) to play with, and the internet of inspiration. I’m not in search of a new partner. I don’t need support, outside of my community. And the thought of finding, and involving myself with a whole new, much older, much more hardcore, group of people does not fill me with joy, or anticipation. As a matter of fact, it scares me.

After all, I’m just a twenty *mumble* girl who has been playing with her lovers for years. What to I know?

Why do men have to pay more? Supply and demand? I’m not sure. But if I was told that I would have to pay twenty five dollars to get into a club, I would not go. Even the college student discount of ten dollars would be a hard sell. But five dollars? That is about as much as my (semi-local) goth club charges. I could do that, once every few months. But more than likely, I wouldn’t go at all. Even with a discount. Because I don’t need to. And that “need to” is probably what distinguishes the men from the women, in this case.

I agree with Peridot, I think she put her finger right on it.

Shadowedge makes a lot of sense, too. I’m newer at this than her, but still, I’ve only been to one fetish event. I felt somewhat overwhelmed, really, because I still see myself like this little vanilla girl. And well, like shadowedge, I don’t need to go. I have my Boy Toy. I have my friends, most of them pretty kinky. So I can play and I can talk whenever I want. I have my blog and all these other kinky blogs. We go out to regular clubs and I’m sure I have more fun than I would have at a fetish club, where I would feel kinda out of place. We go out the same place pretty much every Saturday and I have my little crowd there. It’s usually pretty wild.

And hurm, for me, all the fetishy, bdsm-y stuff, is kinda private (with the exception of my blog). I mean, it’s sex, why would I go to a club to do it?

In my experience with my kinky friends, the males are more likely to hit the public scenes than the females.
I think women are still, even with the feminist movement, reluctant to express themselves sexually, especially in a public environment, because public means women can be “identified”.
Being identified as a sexual woman still translates into “slut”, “loose”, “easy” or some other negative term.
In my small town there are no less than five strip clubs with only female stippers/dancers. The male strippers appear at “regular” bars for week-end “male revues” throughout the year.
And what is the deal with male strippers keeping on their g-strings, while female strippers can practically show their uteruses?
In my opinion, society has always accepted male sexuality. It is common place. Hell, men of Corporate America go to strip clubs to conduct business. It is an acceptable practice. Males are respected for their sexual explotations, private and public.
However, female sexuality is still something that has to be kept hidden to keep respectability.
Women simply don’t want to lose their respectability by expressing their sexuality so they have to be given a pretext…”Oh, I only wore this mini skirt because it gets me free drinks”.
It gets worse for women the older they get, “You’re a mom! You aren’t suppose to be sexual!!” (Ohmygawd, the horror.)
“You’re in your 40’s! You should be playing bridge!”
It seems only women in their 20’s…or who look like they are in their 20’s…are allowed any latitude sexually.
There is no age expiration for a male.
I think until woman own their sexuality, at whatever age they are and move beyond their fear of being judged negatively – or until society decides that female sexuality is equally acceptable as male sexuality – that woman just won’t be out in public in the numbers like men.

@BBW Switch:

Women simply don’t want to lose their respectability by expressing their sexuality so they have to be given a pretext…”Oh, I only wore this mini skirt because it gets me free drinks”.

Uhh…so women would rather be seen as prostituting themselves for booze than for money, and somehow venue owners have made that seem more respectable?

Wow. Where do I get me some of that selling skillz?

I have no wisdom or insight to offer in addition to that of Peridot’s (how I love her — always hits the nail spot on the head) and maymay’s (another wise and witty soul).

I’m just writing to say: Dear God, no, not the autographed photograph of Ted Knight! Have you lost your mind, man? If you must sell it, at least sell it to me.

Priorities, lad, priorities!

I think there’s a lot to be said for the women=commodity/men=customer paradigm, and lowering entrance fees to attract more women.

One other variable I would add to the equation though: As a general rule, women get paid less than men.

Maybe in order to encourage women to go to otherwise expensive clubs and parties, there has to be an incentive. I sure as hell wouldn’t attend any party where I had to pay $25 or more to get in. Then again, I have no idea what the average entrance fee is for non-kinky clubs, since I have no interest in them, but which many women go to.

I have to ditto Maymay’s first comment. When Franklin and I were dating and go to Paddles, we’d split it and pay 20 each (it used to be $35 for men!). If I were going with a casual play date, I’d split it too. It’s only fair.

But on the other hand, I also have no problem with the fact that I can get in for $5.

I have no issue with not having to pay as much as a guy to get into a kink event, bar, party, or anything. Quite frankly, I’m cheap, and if having a vagina gets me half off cover, I’m fine with that.

@Wendy Blackheart:

(it used to be $35 for men!)

It still is $35 for men. $25 is the party price. The regular entry fee for men is still $35 unless an event is happening.

I have no issue with not having to pay as much as a guy to get into a kink event, bar, party, or anything. Quite frankly, I’m cheap, and if having a vagina gets me half off cover, I’m fine with that.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you’re fine with getting discounts because of your physical genitalia, then you can’t reasonably argue that you should earn as much as a man does in your job. And if you want to earn as much as my penis makes for me, it’d be in your best interest not to let your vagina give you these kinds of discounts.

My 2¢.

Hello Axe,

I wanted to add that I go to a public kink event where every entrant pays the same amount  (unless they’re on the guest list, which I’m not). I once went to a public kink event outside of Ireland, and every entrant was charged the same there as well.

At the Irish event, more often than not, I am left with the strong feeling that the door staff  (for whatever reason)  have been telling every male submissive entrant that I am their personal free pro dom for the night  (which I’m not, of course),  and pointing me out to them to make sure they know precisely whom to harass.

I am then deluged all night by men I have never met demanding to know when they “get to have their turn” with me, sometimes interrupting a scene in the middle.

I can’t say for certain that the door staff at this event have ever done anything of the kind. However, that’s what it felt like to me.

The people who run these places want to make a profit, so no matter how the entry fee is charged, and no matter how they distribute their charges, somebody will have to pay it,.

I didn’t go to the most recent public kink event because of being tired of being mauled like everybody’s free sample.  (many submissive women are cherished and protected at this event like precious jewels, which is fabulous, I just wish they extended that same treatment to all women) There aren’t too many of those events to choose from in Ireland, up til recently there was only one. Lately there is another one, but I don’t go to it.

I think it’s incredibly likely that if kinky women feel uncomfortable at these events, then those women will stay away, no matter how the organisers organise the entrance fee.

I think that people will vote with their feet. Perhaps the event organisers think that charging less will convince more women to come to places they’d otherwise rather not? I doubt that strategy will work – nevertheless I wish them luck with it. It might be worth checking out with the women at these events how comfortable they feel on the night, what they think about the entry fees, and whether they think the entry fee charges are likely to reflect their comfort level on the night. Having never been to an event with a differing charging structure for entrants, I couldn’t say.

Recently I noticed that Midori’s charging structure for her rope dojo differs between singles and pairs. As much as I might understand the benefit of having pairs to work with each other at an event like that, as a polyamorous person I personally feel frequently annoyed that so many of these events appear skewed in favour of “the couple”. According to her FAQ, poly triads are expected to purchase one pair ticket and one single ticket.

In short, I personally don’t think the entry fee signifies very much. I don’t think charging everybody the same is going to change anything, I think it’s likely that they’d just charge everybody more.

One question – you said:

“I don’t blame them for doing it. I just don’t understand why.”

That sentence makes no sense to me. You don’t understand why they charge inequitably but you don’t blame them for doing so? Do you blame anybody? I’d really like to know. 🙂
Oh how I wish this wasn’t true. If only I were being the one consumed and used like a product.

And I just had this mental image of you parading around at one of these events with a sandwich board or something, advertising your availability for use, featuring a picture of an iron, with a free phone number on it. I think that’d be cute. 🙂
Best regards,

Lubyanka. 🙂

I particularly agree with Lubyanka: “Perhaps the event organisers think that charging less will convince more women to come to places they’d otherwise rather not?”

This all reminds me of this article by freaksexual (here). His article really clarified my own personal confusion on this subject. It’s long and targeted more at non-monogamy than BDSM but I think some of the points he makes still holds. The relevant section starts after the subheading “Sex parties”. One of the points he makes in the essay is that unequal entry requirements such as cheaper costs for women means that the event organizers have found or expect that their event tends not to attract women and are trying to clumsily correct this by making it cheaper, when really, they should be examining the event to determine what they are doing to drive women attendance down or fail to interest women in attending. I also don’t mean “things that interest women” in terms of sexist things like “paint the club pink” but rather things like “advertising imagery which assumes women are sexual objects” or “an environment where men are not constantly expecting you to be sexually available”, etc.

I also have to wonder, has a difference in entry fee actually been shown to work at all in equalizing a gender skew to any significant degree?

The play parties I have attended in Boston have all charged the same fee no matter what gender. The gender ratio at these parties is not skewed. Parties which charge nothing also don’t have a skewed ratio. Of course, the parties in Boston tend to be private or only semi-public – you may argue what effect this has in terms of the gender skew, but I wonder if it simply means that the organizers feel more free to enforce dynamics at their parties which do not drive women away.

Sorry, two more things:

This is actually a better link to the essay, though I think both links should get you to the same place.

Also, in the comments, he links to this completely intriguing survey of BDSM practitioners (pdf file)…. I hadn’t seen it before, and thought you might be interested – in particular because there is data there on whether there actually are more women who are bottoms than women who are tops. 😉

Jade is 100% correct, and my own (limited) experience in the Boston scene corroborates hers. Event organizers who think gimmicks like free drinks or discounted entry prices make up for their negligent behavior of disregarding women’s comfort at their events belies their stupidity at best and their discriminatory sexism at worst.

I’m with Shadowedge on this one. I came to BDSM around the same time I came to union organizing, populace movements, an awareness of my carbon footprint so I went to the events, and joined the community. However, the more I do this the more I realize that I would rather play with the boys I meet at Obama rallies than the ones I meet at fetish nights.

Why do men pay more? I don’t know. Maybe because women are the entertainment, maybe because women aren’t willing to pay more, maybe just to control the amount of men at any event and ensure that the looky loos don’t show up. It’s not fair and if often doesn’t work — if anything it sends me as a woman the clear message that this event is full of the kind of men I probably won’t want to play with. However, it works for the clubs or they wouldn’t do it, and capitalism is what it’s really all about.

I agree with Peridot. Basically, if the women are there (which is guaranteed by their lower cover charge), the men will come. Of course I mean that as a double entendre…

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