Credit to Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Girls’ Night In: One year on

By Victoria Curley

The “Girls’ Night In” boycott happened a year ago. Have clubs and bars become any safer for women since?

When I think of Girls’ Night In, I wish my mind would instantly go to large quantities of rosé, a catch-up over laughs, and memories of throwing popcorn at that one girl who won’t stop drunkenly quoting the love poem from 10 things I Hate About You. I really wish that was my first thought. That’s not the case. 

Instead, when I think of Girls’ Night In, I think of the female-led movement that took place this time last year. I think of girls being spiked, girls discussing how they were scared to go out, and people staying in as a gesture of solidarity with spiking victims. It’s an image that fills parents with dread when sending their daughters off to university wanting them to experience only the best the world has to offer. 

Young women were forced to take action due to their safety being put at risk every time they stepped into a club, bar or party with the intention only of having a fun night. By staying home and making a stand to these institutions, the hope was that the authorities would be more prepared to listen. On 27 October 2021 –  the date the boycott took place – I happened to be visiting Liverpool, considered one of the best cities in the country for a night out. Around this time, spiking by injection was becoming more prevalent in Liverpool, as it was across the UK. I remember thinking the streets had never felt so lifeless, especially in Concert Square: a courtyard hub for all the surrounding clubs. 

Leading up to the evening of Girls Night In, police had investigated 152 instances in Scotland of drinks being spiked, or victims being spiked by injection. While the extensive coverage of this issue last year shows these stories are not going unheard, the figures above are far from reassuring.

All that being said, having moved to Glasgow recently from North London, I feel increasingly confident while out at night, and I now consider myself safer compared to when I would go out late in London. As a student, I feel safer knowing Glasgow University Union (GUU) has charging stations for phones, taxi information, many posters of helpline numbers in the girls’ bathroom, and a thorough bag and security check system. This creates an environment where you’re less likely to stay huddled to a group of people you know, and allows you to chat and flirt largely free of stress. Who wants to mingle when they’ve got to cover the top of their drink, keep their arms linked with their flatmate’s and hide their phone in their pocket? That’s not enjoyable, which is why I’m grateful for the sense of security I feel at the union. Within many of my introductory lectures, all students were introduced to the Safe Zone app, a brilliant way to walk home with the police and University staff a button click away. Glasgow has been raising its standards as a city when it comes to safety.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to decide how much progress has truly been made in the year since Girls Night In. In the West End itself – widely considered one of the safest areas of Glasgow – a 19-year-old girl was suspectedly drugged with opioids and almost lost her life at The Record Factory in September this year, before being rushed to the hospital. Knowing how often The Record Factory is frequented by students, usually for society events, it’s easy to see how female students might still be reluctant to go out, even to these “largely safe” West End pubs. 

Within the City Centre, primarily around the busy nightlife of Sauchiehall street, the need for improvements is even more apparent. By following the Union’s example, they would encourage a larger crowd of young women eager to explore and take in Glasgow’s chaotic and rowdy atmospheres without fear. More simple, everyday examples within clubbing culture also show how women are continuously mistreated on a micro-level in these scenarios. Something I’ve always had an issue with, for instance, is the level of intimidation bouncers believe is acceptable when interrogating a stone-cold sober woman about how many drinks she had before getting there. A simple question, a simple answer; yet the tone and anger of a man watching his football team commit an own goal. 

Debating my feelings versus the facts is a tricky one, but ultimately the facts are what we should base our assumptions off – not what one London girl has experienced in a month-and-a-half of unpacking Glasgow. The Girls Night In boycott was a creative and decisive way to start a movement, but it also shouldn’t mark its end. Instead, what we need is further steps in the same direction: increased security, increased awareness and better strategies to identify threats at clubs and bars. Influential voices in the public should also be encouraged to speak out. This is far from over, and whether they’ve experienced what these women have or not, those in the public eye hold the key to meaningful change and awareness.


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