This Genius Brooklyn Bar Raised Awareness about the Wage Gap with Cheaper Booze for Women

Last week, the internet casually exploded when word got out that the Way Station in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, announced that women would pay just 77% of their bar tab on 7/7 to fight the wage gap and even the playing field. “This is an opportunity to give back to our female customers and make a statement at the same time,” Andy Heidel, The Way Station’s owner, told me via email. “The majority of my staff is female, half my clientele is female and I have three sisters, so it was a no brainer.”

It’s not breaking news that the wage gap exists. According the Labor Department, women make an average of 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. We’ve known this since the beginning of time, but somehow, it’s a hard fact for some (mostly Men’s Righst Activists and Twitter trolls) to grasp and it is still a hotly contested debate.

Since I am always down to 1. enjoy drinks in Prospect Heights 2. Pay less money for something and pretend I am not the type of person to live beyond my means and 3. Check out anything vaguely feminist, I stopped by the bar and reached out to Andy to ask him a few questions. Here’s how it went:

8:30pm: The Brooklyn air is thick with humidity and it smells like hot trash and cement. I wipe sweat off my arms and text my friend Amy about where to meet. I can see from half a block away that the place is packed, and a news truck is outside. This is nuts. Andy later told me that he was shocked at how fast the story blew up. He was approached by CNN, Fox 5 and WPIX11, Refinery29, Elite Daily, The Guardian, and others.

I saw that 706 Bar across the street is in on it too since it is so crowded.

8:35pm: I trip over the news anchor’s microphone cord, stumble inside the crowded bar and text Amy, “I CAN’T FIND YOU” and in that moment of searching, I can’t decide if I am cranky about how crowded and hot it is, or happy that together, we are all crushing the patriarchy. I wisely and profoundly decide that I feel both things and that it is okay to have two conflicting emotions sitting together in your heart at the same time.

8:45pm: I find Amy and we part the crowd to stand in line and decide what to drink. I overhear two young women outside who are very eager to speak with Andy. They are sociology students and they traveled far and wide to see this. I notice that Wannabe by the Spice Girls is playing. I feel good.

8:50pm: We order a beer and a gin and tonic and the total is $8. You heard me right. $8. Amy says to the bartender, “THAT IS SO CHEAP” and she smiles, dances, and yells back, “I KNOW, RIGHT?” Is this what equal pay feels like? Because I really like that feeling.

9:00pm: I learn through Twitter that this playlist is inspired by Leslie Knope and I am immediately enamored. I remember that Twitter exists and I search for #WageGap and Tweet away because I want the world to know that paying 77% of your bar tab feels really good. I sip my gin and tonic and then Shania Twain comes on and everyone sings because duh.

10:30pm: After some catching up with Amy, I get another gin and tonic because there is a credit card minimum, so why not, and I’ve spent under $20 this entire night. The room is 90% women and everyone seems psyched. I learned later from Andy that overall, the experience was very positive and people were supportive. Except for the haters.

“Since I didn’t expect this kind of internet response, I was surprised to see the haters out there. It doesn’t compute with me that for one night I wanted to do something nice and special and raise awareness, and the haters are saying I am being discriminatory and should be sued. Honestly I cant waste my time wondering why they feel threatened. It’s a moot point. Just glad they didn’t come to my bar.” — Andy Heidel on why haters are going to hate

10:45pm: Oops, it’s a work night. Gotta go.

7:05am: I wake up and give in to my bad habit of checking my phone first thing. I have ten twitter notifications. A few are from the bartenders at the Way Station, who retweeted or favorited my tweets. Two are from very angry men (one is a white male rapper, by the way) who want me to know that 1. I am an idiot and 2. the wage gap is a myth 3. I should watch this informative YouTube video on why the wage gap isn’t real.

8:30am: I walk to the subway, listen to Robyn and consider Tweeting back to the haters. “Whatever,” I type, but that feels wrong, so I block them instead and remember that despite this “mythical” wage gap, Robyn makes a zillion more dollars than that white male rapper. And this morning, that is good enough for me.

Jessica McCarthy has written on feminism and culture on Mic and Quartz and writes the weekly feminist newsletter, This Week on the Internet. Subscribe here and find her on Twitter.