In a shopping centre my partner and I used to frequent on the central coast, each parking lot would have sections of preferential parking. Closest to the entrances would be disabled parking. Then, the next row or so of parks would be “seniors parking”. After that, there’d be a couple of rows of “parents with prams” parking spots allocated. Only after that was it free-for-all.
Occasionally when we were in a hurry we’d joke to ourselves “where’s the ‘gay men who want to spend money’ parks?”
Realistically both the seniors and the disabled parking made sense. I’m not convinced there was anything particularly logical about “parents with prams” parking, but someone obviously thought it was an imperative.
Sometimes exclusivity policies work for us. Our favourite pub in Melbourne, the Laird, has full legal exemption from anti-discrimination laws to operate as a men-only venue. Women are only allowed on a few open days a year. The rest of the time, it’s men-only, and I think it’s fine. (If someone wants to believe its sexist, I hope they’d equally be campaigning against say, women-only gyms.)
There’s a new type of exclusivity starting in the cities though. No kids. To quote The Age:
But in the 16 months since the Raccoon Club in Preston opened, the biggest thing brewing has not been the beer but a debate over the owners’ rule to ban children, including babies, from entering.
The blanket kid ban at the bar has sparked the ire of some local mums and dads, who can not see the harm in having the odd family in there on a sunny afternoon. Ill feeling has shown itself in a string of confrontations where the owners have forced parents to leave, a few times from booked functions to which they were invited.
Marika Dobbin, The Age, “Children off the premises when it’s cider house rules‘, 28 January 2013.
Understandably if you turn up to a venue only to find you’re not allowed there, it can spark a bit of annoyance.
Is it that much of an imposition though to suggest there should be places where people can go and children won’t be present? Is there room for one more restriction? To be fair, there’s already places kids aren’t allowed to go. Some venues such as nightclubs already have an 18+ entry restriction.
What about daytime pubs?
What about cafes?
What about movie theatres?
What about train carriages?
What about flights?
Parents favour the slippery-slope argument on this. A mother quoted in the above article said:
”Of course no one wants children in their cafes or bars because they are noisy, they don’t buy things, they make a mess. But children are part of society and if everyone toed that line then mothers wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.”
Is it that simple though? Does the slippery-slope argument come into play?
Logically we’re taught the slippery-slope argument is generally a complete fallacy. After all, gay rights proponents have argued that for years – the stupidest of the bigots argue things like “If you let gays marry each other, soon people will be marrying their pets!” So you can understand a frustrated person saying “If everyone banned, mothers wouldn’t be able to go anywhere”. Yet, logically we know that can’t really happen.
Parents may be indignant they can’t take their kids into any venue they want to go to, but the opposite side of the coin is true too – some people are equally indignant they can’t go out and enjoy the company of their friends without a child screaming like a banshee, kids running around, and parents glaring at other adults for not moderating their behaviour around their children.
Both sides of the argument are fair. Yes, both. There should be room for both.
Before things get out of hand though, there should be a regulated response. If venues want to deny access to children (and therefore the parents accompanying the children), perhaps it should be only if they have one “family day” a week, or there should be a limit to the number of venues per suburb allowed to prohibit access to children.
The crux of the matter is that if you want to be able to exclude certain people from venues, you need to do it legally. We already support this in society: women-only gyms, men-only clubs, 18+ only nightclubs. All of these exclusions are done legally.
I’m all for there being some venues that exclude kids, but only if its handled by proper legal exemptions.
Anything else would be hypocritical.