This is nightlife, where everyone is beautiful, champagne pours like water and people quickly spend thousands. But this doesn’t just happen by chance, it takes the right person, and in our case a team, to filter a crowd and create the right vibe inside. If you have ever attended a nightclub in a major city, you’ve probably witnessed the infamous front doorman.
This person decides who gains access to a nightclub or party and this position comes with a few familiar but unspoken rules. Doormen have a reputation of being inhospitable, saying “no” just because they can, taking money at the door, and judging the crowd based off of looks. This position was notoriously held by a man; until we (VIPER by KCH) came around and decided to change the rules.
VIPER is an all female front of house operations and logistics team. We’re based in LA and almost two years old. We run the front entrance and guest check in for most major events in the city, as well as a popular Hollywood nightlife venue.
So what is it like to be a door GIRL disrupting an industry of door MEN?
It’s uncharted territory that comes with sexism but also the opportunity to shift an industry where women are either there to look pretty or pour a drink.
1. You often get the question: “Can I speak to your boss?”
Oh honey I am the boss… Whether it’s in line with my personal morals or not, my job is keeping the uninvited party crashers out. So when doing this, most people ask where my boss is or angrily demand to see my supervisor to go above me. Rarely does a doorman hear this because guests understand his position and authority.
Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener
2. Prepare to be ignored
It is always interesting to watch people walk up to a rope and look over or around you to find someone “in charge”. A guests can look straight at us standing at the door with clipboards or iPads and still talk to any man they see before approaching a woman. Either they find a security guard or ask another guest who is in charge of the door.
3. It’s an opportunity to represent women in charge.
Typically venues and events end up male dominated from security teams, to management, to promoters. Being a door girl allows you to bring a feminine energy amidst a LOT of testosterone. VIPER Girls greet every guest warmly while maintaining professionalism and authority. Doormen have the reputation of being too aggressive too quickly, so we do our best to change that by treating every guest with respect (even those we have to turn away).
4. You Call Your Own Shots
Unfortunately, It’s common for women to endure disrespect to protect their jobs in any field; and the nightlife industry can be particularly derogatory. Being a door girl in charge comes with the unique capability to stand your ground.
When promoters get aggressive or guests make insulting comments, we have the last word on how the night ends for them. This is a small but important way of women getting stand up in an industry where they are normally told to stay seated.
5. Always a Good Experience.
We’ve had clients go from saying “a woman couldn’t run our door” to never operating without us there. At first glance, guests are surprised to see an all female team only to later tell us that their experience at the front enhanced their mood inside. We custom tailor our operation per our client’s specific needs and gratifying to see people recognize our value and strengths.
As door girls, we have a unique job full of ups and downs. Some nights we laugh and others we cry, but there is definitely never a dull moment.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.