We Really Need To Stop Disrespecting Women Because We Don’t Think They’re “Hot Enough”

Today, Rapture nightclub owner Neil Scott doubled down on his problematic response to punter Shantel Smith‘s claim that she had her drink spiked at his premises over the weekend.

In case you’ve missed the incident, Shantel posted her interaction with Rapture nightclub to Instagram, and the post quickly went viral as people shared it in outrage.

Since then, Neil Scott has taken to Facebook, where he posted CCTV footage with the caption “The large girl with the white top, the short black skirt and the black and white shoes is Shantel Smith, the girl who claimed to have had her drink spiked.”

Then, he made comments to The West Australian, saying:

“She’s not a particularly attractive girl. It’s just implausible to imagine that she had her drink spiked, it just doesn’t sort of add up. She’s just a very plain Jane type of girl. I can’t understand why anybody would be possessed by her.”

Obviously, Scott’s ongoing comments about the incident have further added to the furore – but the scary thing is this whole response is just another example of wider, pervasive issue in Australian culture about women’s value.

There’s a lot more in this issue than just the fact that Neil Scott’s comments focus on Shantel’s looks. The ongoing issues around dismissing women who speak up about sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. How it plays into rape culture.

But the part that affected me deeply, based on my own experiences, was that he seems to be implying that a woman’s physical attractiveness is the basis for whether she should would even BE raped. That because she wasn’t attractive enough in his eyes, she wouldn’t even be worth it.

The reason this enraged me so much is because I know what it’s like to be treated as unworthy because of your appearance. Most women do. How often have you been disrespected because a man has deemed you unattractive? How often have you seen it happen to your friends? Women are constantly judged by their looks, and shit like this is just a particularly jarring example of the constant battle women face over being heard.

Some personal examples of men treating women poorly because they don’t think they’re hot enough to be treated otherwise – the time a guy hit on my sister, and his friend said “ugh guess I’ll be wingman” and sat down next to me, moodily asking “so where are you guys from?” while looking around the bar distractedly.

When I was walking through a club to the exit with some friends, and one friend started crying when we got outside. A guy had bumped into her on the way through, then called her a “dog”.

The myriad of times I’ve seen bouncers let girls they deem to be hot in ahead of a queue, but refuse other women entry, making them head to the back of the line.

It is so, so common for men to treat women with disrespect because they don’t consider them attractive, as though how hot you are to them determines how respectful they need to be, how valuable your words are. To me, Neil Scott’s comments on Shantel Smith are the pinnacle of this – there’s no way a guy would spike her drink because she simply wasn’t attractive enough for anyone to want to, in his eyes.

The reason his comments are garnering so much outrage is because of the situation – drink spiking is serious business, and usually employed during attempts at rape. People can’t believe Scott’s argument about why he believes the drink spiking didn’t occur comes down to Smith’s appearance.

But women are dismissed all the time because of their physical looks. This isn’t a one-off, it’s part of an ingrained attitude.

For example, maybe you aren’t a guy who would accuse a woman of lying about drink spiking because you didn’t think she was hot. But you might be a guy who is happy to call a woman a dog because they bumped into you. You might be more polite to an attractive woman you serve at a cafe than you are to one you don’t find attractive. And those are still steps on the same pyramid of fucked behaviour. These behaviours perpetuate the bullshit around women needing to be physically attractive to be deemed worthy of social attention.

If you do one thing after reading about the Rapture nightclub controversy, do this – have a think about whether you are part of the problem, too.