Drinking in the men’s room

Women listening as men discuss manly things

Women listening as men discuss manly things, like hair-dos

Is it acceptable for women to down a schooner in a public bar? Or should the fair sex be confined to the lounge bar? In Brisbane fifty years ago, activists Rosalie Bogner and Merle Thornton had to chain themselves to a foot rail just to get served.

We were a bit more progressive that that in the 1950s and ’60s. Unlike Brisbane, it was not illegal for a woman to have a beer in a saloon. But most publicans did not approve. Men needed their own space, somewhere men could be men.

In 1953 the Sunday Times asked if lasses should enter such a testosterone-rich environment. The journalist noted that most women did not want to prop up a bar, even though drinks were more expensive in the lounge. (When did this practice of different pricing stop?)

In the summer, one Cottesloe hotel usually had representatives of the fair sex drinking in the saloon bar. But this was the exception, rather than the rule for most hotels. Unless you lived in Armadale. Nobody had the nerve to tell Armadale women where they should drink.

For most Perth hotels, though, publicans said they would object if a lady invaded the men’s space, and she would be directed to the special place set aside for women to drink in.

We’d like to see some landlord try that one with Mrs Dodgy Perth.