'CEOs and Office Hoes' party at B.C. nightclub draws backlash

A "CEOs and Office Hoes" party being thrown by Cactus Jack's Nightclub in Kamloops, B.C., is stirring up a lot of controversy.

People are calling the theme, which asks women to wear either a dress, blouse, skirt or pants with heels, "sexist" and "tasteless." 

Meanwhile, men are being asked to wear a suit, blazer, dress shirt or collared shirt with pants or jeans.

When Alix Dolson, organizer of the annual Kamloops Women's March, heard about the party happening this Friday, she was "disappointed, but certainly not surprised."

Photo by Google Street View

"It's a fairly common trope and it's a dichotomy as old as time to frame women that way and to frame men as being powerful," she said.

"It's disappointing to see that in the age of #MeToo and Time's Up and so many advances in women's rights that we're still trying to combat this."

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are more than 114 comments on the club's Facebook post about the party, the majority of which are very critical of the theme. A few are in a favour.

When contacted by CBC News, Cactus Jack's Nightclub responded via Facebook message, saying that people concerned about the theme can send them a message on Facebook, adding "we will also keep the event page up so people can see the responses to it."

'Inherently sexist,' says Dolson

Dolson acknowledged that the CEOs don't necessarily have to be men, with women as hoes.

"But we have to look [at] it with a lens of that's what that term has historically meant," she told  Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

"It's a term that's been used to oppress and marginalize women, especially black and brown women ... and so it's inherently sexist."

Dolson added that she doesn't have an issue with women being sexually empowered and dressing how they want.

"That's not the issue at hand here, it's the idea that this is what women have to conform to, that this is the role that they were born to play and that they don't really have the power to escape that narrative."

Not an original theme

Acacia Pangilinan, executive director of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, said this isn't the first time she's heard of this theme for a party, but it's still problematic.

"In the corporate world, this is serious harassment," she said.

"I think that any sort of organization that then promotes or supports this type of behaviour is kind of turning a blind eye to the actual problems that are at hand."

She also thinks the nightclub is missing the mark with its demographic.

 "I can't understand how a nightclub that's targeting university students ... would have a theme like this when universities are working very hard to ensure that their students are educated about these issues."

Learning opportunity

Both Pangilinan and Dolson think the club could learn something from this.

"I think this would be a really progressive opportunity for the organization to listen to the feedback from the community and then offer an event that doesn't put people on two sides," said Pangilinan.

"I think that it would actually be appealing to their target demographic if they offered something a little bit more inclusive and empowering."