Panthers World of Entertainment have announced a new dress standard coming into force from May 1,
– Women may no longer dress immodestly.
In a statement to the Daily Telegraph, Panthers chief operating officer, Sue McNeill said,
“If someone comes in with rubber thongs and slips they could get injured, or if a girl comes in and wears barely nothing it could provoke poor behaviour by other guests.”
She further claimed that it was a move supported by 98% of people who have seen the policy change and News Ltd subsidiaries agree, with the Penrith Press only reporting the positive aspects of this new policy. The Telegraph could only find women who agree with this, including etiquette doyen June Dally-Watkins, a woman who maintains that it a ladies place to be seen and not heard.
Despite the fact that 32 women have been murdered in Australia so far this year and countless more have been raped, Panthers is siding with the abusers. By blaming women for the way they choose to dress, it gives a free pass to any man at Panthers who isn’t capable of not harassing women. If this problem with scantily-clad women and men with no self-control is as endemic as Panthers is claiming, then perhaps the issue isn’t how women are dressed as much as it is men going to Panthers to sexually assault people. Rather than reviewing how women dress and victim blaming, the Panthers executive should be working on stopping members from committing rape.
The greater Penrith region has huge issues with violence against women, local police estimate that they spend more than 50% of their time responding to domestic violence call-outs. Penrith Panthers rugby league feeder team Windsor Wolves have had a number of players arrested for assaulting women, and have had to institute education on how to treat any of the women that they may meet.
The great issue here isn’t the new dress code; as a venue, Panthers is free to decide how patrons dress; the problem for Penrith is the justification used by Panthers for these new rules. Insisting women dress in a particular way is one thing, claiming that the new policy is to protect them from the poor behaviour of others is wholly despicable. If other guests have problems with controlling their behaviour around women, then Panthers should be reviewing why it continues to protect such members, especially given recent events that have exposed the problems with blaming women for how men treat them.
At a time when Rosie Batty, a victim of violence against women, is the Australian of the Year, Panthers should be ashamed of such a reactionary policy and boycotted by anyone who believes that a woman has the right to go out without being harassed or assaulted.