My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

An Open Letter to The Stampede Ranch in Guelph

on April 26, 2012

So, I just found out today that my favourite country bar is holding a bikini contest tonight.  The winner gets $1000 and skin cancer… I mean, free tanning for a year.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.  So I wrote them an email, which I thought I would post here as well.  This is not really what I usually post on, but I think brothels*, er… bars’ advertising counts as media that I can critique. 


I just wanted to let you know how excited I have been about seeing Kerosene Creek this weekend.  I love them, and I love the Ranch.  Or, I did until I heard about the bikini contest.  I have no doubt that it’s great for business, but I wanted to let you know that you will no longer be getting any of my business, or any of my friends’ business as long as you are holding these contests.  And I’m sure that the hundreds or thousands of dollars you would be making off of us is not a big concern when compared with the profits that will be made tonight at the bikini contest.

I would ask you to consider the moral implications of this contest however.  (And yes, I have heard that I should ‘lighten up and get a sense of humour.’  Ironically, I was planning to do that at the Ranch tomorrow night.)  Objectifying women like this – or providing a very good reason for them to objectify themselves, i.e. a $1000 prize – contributes to a culture where women are raped and sexually assaulted daily. 

As a woman, what this contest says to me is that the Ranch does not value me as a human at all, but that you will happily make money off of the exploitation of my body.  It says that the Ranch is a place where women are expected to conform to male, heterosexual desires, where women are objects to be looked at and enjoyed by these male consumers, and where women who are not up to par in terms of the physical appearance of their bodies are not welcome.  I would feel extremely unsafe in a place like this.

 I have already felt unsafe at the Ranch when a man yelled names at me when I refused to give him my number, after repeatedly touching me places that he knew I did not want to be touched.  I do not blame the Ranch for this at all.  Actually, it is an unfortunate reality that as a woman, going out often means risking unwanted sexual attention (the definition of sexual harassment), and being verbally abused if you do not go along with it. 

So, I’m sure you can understand why, as a woman, I feel like encouraging men to further objectify women and see them as there for men’s entertainment and sexual pleasure would make me feel extremely unsafe and unwelcome.

Then there is the issue of how close this comes to prostitution / pimping, since you are making money from women’s bodies.  And yes, I know this is the women’s choice, but we all know that a lot of students and young people in general go to the Ranch, and that a lot of students and young people could really use $1000 (who couldn’t?). But again, I really urge you to consider how comfortable you are with essentially pimping these young women, taking advantage of their need for money and their need for male approval, and their knowledge that women’s power (i.e. money) comes directly from their bodies. 

Please consider the messages you are giving your female patrons and the extremely dangerous culture (of rape, sexual assault, physical and verbal violence towards women, misogyny in general, etc) you are contributing to by holding these bikini contests.  I love the Ranch, and I would love to come back if and when these bikini contests are no longer happening there.  (And I am actually much more fun when I’m out than I may appear to be in this email.  I don’t just go around feminist-ing to all the other people in the bar.)

Thanks a lot for considering what I have to say,


And, the response I received:

“Sorry to hear, but you missed a great night.  People had lots of fun and nobody was raped or sexually abused!  I like picture of your halloween costume on facebook.  You could have been in the contest with an outfit like that!
Have a great weekend”

Sigh.  No comment necessary on that one I would say.



To their email, I replied:

“Is there any way I could get your (or whoever answered my last email’s) full name and position?  I would really like to continue this conversation.

Thanks again.”


And here is their response:

“To respond to your accusations:

You are wrong to think that this contest is for men’s pleasures only as many women have asked us when the next bikini contest is going to be held, and they certainly enjoy themselves during it.  You are also wrong to assume that we have never considered the moral implications of this contest. We have, we just happen to disagree with your opinion.

As for your accusations that this contest is close to prostitution, pimping and running a brothel, are you being serious?  I fail to see the connection as people sign up because they want to enter the contest for whatever reason they have. Some of them sign up because they are proud of their bodies and want to show them off, some do it for fun, and some do it for the chance to win money. Regardless, it’s their choice.

Yes, many of our contestants are students but we happen to believe that they (and our customers as a whole) are intelligent, respectable and responsible adults who are more than capable of making the choice to do what they want to with their own bodies. It’s their choice. For you to imply that they are prostitutes and strippers is the degrading part. As is implying that we are running a brothel and that we are their “asshole pimp.”  To quote you…”I do not have anything against prostitutes or brothels. I am super excited about the laws changing in Ontario. I just think we should be honest about it, and the women should be okay with thinking of themselves as prostitutes or strippers before they agree to things like this. And that they should be okay with the fact that only one of them will make money, and the rest of their profits will go to the bar, aka their asshole pimp.”

You are the one who is shaming them. We resent your implication that they are not intelligent, as well as you saying that we do not value our customers as human beings. This is completely false.

As for your accusation that we searched you out on facebook, let me remind you that it was you who requested the Stampede Ranch to be your friend. It was also you who has chosen to slander us all over facebook as well as other social media sites. And it is also you who has chosen to repeatedly email us, phone us, and contact one of our bands. Believe me we didn’t go looking for you. As for the picture of you that you have posted on facebook, I have no issues with it and I most certainly am not “slut-shaming” you. You are free to wear whatever you choose because it is your body.

Regarding the incident at our bar, we are sorry that you had to experience that. However, if the situation was as bad as you claim why didn’t you contact security or the manager on duty that night?  We take pride in making efforts to keep our patrons safe and we would have dealt with your situation with the integrity and professionalism you assert is imperative and required.         

As for not giving you my name:  I’ve noticed you slandering us on many websites and using our logo, which is illegal, to get your message out.  According to The Canadian Bar Association, your actions fall under cyberbullying, harassment and defamation. I’m only beginning to realize what type of person I’m dealing with, so for the safety of myself and my family you won’t get that information.  Who knows what a person like you might do?  You sound like a very unhappy, bitter individual.  If you feel so unsafe in bars, which is your right, maybe do your socializing elsewhere.  I will not respond to another email as I’ve spent enough time on this matter and be advised that you are no longer welcome to enter the Stampede Ranch. We consider this matter closed and if you continue to harass us we will have no choice but to contact our lawyer.”


I wasn’t going to post anything about this (because apparently sharing my experience with a company is illegal…) but I thought it was important to share.  I will not comment on this (again, because apparently I could be sued for commenting, and also because I have decided to also ‘consider this matter closed’ and not spend any more energy / emotion on it), except to say that the harassing I was doing included one phone call to the Ranch to ask if I could speak with the owner (who wasn’t in), and an email to the owner that I sent on a weird, sketchy website that said “Email the Stampede Ranch’s owner here!”  I still don’t know if that email went through or not, but I assumed it didn’t at the time.

So, there is it.  Hopefully there is no more drama, and I don’t have to post anything more about it.



*I do not have anything against prostitutes or brothels.  I am super excited about the laws changing in Ontario.  I just think we should be honest about it, and the women should be okay with thinking of themselves as prostitutes or strippers before they agree to things like this.  And that they should be okay with the fact that only one of them will make money, and the rest of their profits will go to the bar, aka their asshole pimp.

4 responses to “An Open Letter to The Stampede Ranch in Guelph

  1. […] been on my mind recently is bikini contests in bars, and bar atmospheres in general.  You can read my recent post on this for a more thorough explanation, but generally it is quite clear in bars that the men tend […]

  2. […] that people say about you and your thoughts gets tiring enough.  Then there’s this whole thing with the Ranch, which is much more personal and much more frustrating.  I never wanted to take it any farther […]

  3. Allen Jackson says:

    Your the reason I can’t stand feminists!

    Stand up
    Pour water on your tits
    And shut up!

    That about sums up anything I feel about your concerns

    Congratulations to who ever responded via e mail from the ranch! You successfully made me laugh! Bitches be crazy! Specially this cunt!

    • Emma says:

      I love that the comments section of any feminist post (or email, in the case of the bar owners being discussed) reinforce the need for feminism and the prevalence of sexism. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement!

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