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One part peach schnapps, one part sparkling wine, and a splash of sexism

Beware of the free drink app, it’s spiked by sexism

Is a free drink ever really free? Yes, if I am to believe the makers of the new app ‘Drinki’. The principle is simple; you download the Drinki app, go to one of around thirty participating bars (including 333 Mother bar and several others in Soho), show your phone to the bartender and in exchange for a Facebook check-in, you receive a free drink. Sounds great, but here’s the catch – this deal is for women only. A simple scroll through the Drinki Twitter feed gives you an immediate insight into how this app is being marketed.

The page is full of sassy song suggestions for your next #girlsnightout, recommending artists such as the Spice Girls to boost your #girlpower credentials whilst sipping on your free Porn Star Martini. Drinki’s thunderclap page (kind of like a crowdfunder site, but with an emphasis on generating more hype than money) is full of the same rhetoric. It claims that we, as women, ‘‘deserve free drinks, like the Queen’’ – a sentiment repeated in capital letters further down the page. I agree that it would be nice to get a free drink now and then, but simply because I deserve it. I deserve it because I’ve been at work since 7am, I deserve it because I’ve handed in all my assignments a day before the deadline, I deserve it because I went to my 9am lecture instead of indulging in a Game of Thrones marathon whilst heavily hungover. I don’t, however, deserve it merely on the basis that I am a woman.

The whole female geared premise of the Drinki app makes me uneasy because it is reminiscent of the practice of giving women free entry into nightclubs, which is arguably rather sexist. Far from being empowering, free entry is granted in these circumstances for the financial gain of club owners. They waive the entry fee for women in the hope that men will pay to come in, chat them up, and spend their money buying drinks in the process. And yet the Drinki app is possibly worse. Not only is it about luring women into clubs and bars, but also, it’s about inebriating them. Furthermore, it’s about duping women into believing that the only motivation for presenting them with a drink is in the support of #girlpower.

I am not saying that this app should be the target of a blanket boycott – by all means, take advantage of the opportunity to save your cash.  I’m simply suggesting that there is a seedier side to Drinki, which underpins the image of a fun, girls’ night out that is so keenly promoted.

With the launch of Drinko, the male-centric counterpart to Drinki (‘coming soon’ guys), it could be said that the people behind these apps are attempting to introduce some gender equality into the free drinks game. Despite this, I can’t help but remain unconvinced. Having two separate gender-specific apps simply opens up the door to sexism; a woman gets her free Drinki on her giggly, bubbly night of cocktails and karaoke, whilst a man gets his free Drinko on his beer-fuelled night out with the lads.

The problem is, not all women drink cocktails, and not all men like beer. A free drink is great, but not when it comes at the cost of gender stereotyping, I’d rather pay the £7.50.

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