Things That Matter

A Restaurant In Peru Has Been Fined $62,000 For What Many Say Is Blatant Sexism

A famed restaurant in Lima, Peru received a $62,000 fine for what authorities felt was its sexist menu. The upscale seaside La Rosa Nautica had an unusual practice of giving one menu to men and a different one to women. La Rosa Nautica is an international tourist attraction and favorite of the country’s upper class. Featured in guidebooks and on major lists of the best restaurants, it will now be forced to change its practice. 

The owners never believed it was sexist in the first place (because double standards are the beacon of equality), but the courts disagreed. 

Two different menus. Two different genders. 

La Rosa Nautica servers would hand women patrons a gold menu that listed all of the items available to order except one detail is omitted: the price. Men are given identical blue menus with the price included. The idea being — you guessed it — men will always pay for dinner, women will not. Perhaps the owners at La Rosa Nautica don’t believe nonbinary people eat. 

During the legal proceedings, the owners defended the practice as ensuring that women “enjoy a romantic evening” without fretting over the cost of their meals — in 2019. 

The La Rosa Nautica owners denied that their menus were discriminatory and that menus without prices, “extoll the position of women, considering it a pleasure for them to enjoy a romantic evening with their partner, without taking into account the cost of the services.”

La Rosa Nautica fined $62,000 and forced to change their sexist menu practice.

Nevertheless, the National Institute for the Defense of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property found the practice sexist in a 3 to 2 ruling. Now the restaurant must give people of all genders the same menu. 

“These small things may seem harmless,” Liliana Cerrón, an official with the agency that issued the fine, told the Associated Press. “But at the end of the day they are the basis of a chauvinistic construct reinforcing differences between men and women.”

On top of the $62,000 fine, the restaurant will have to offer a single menu, train staff, and display a public sign that states, “it is prohibited to discriminate against consumers on the grounds of origin, race, sex, language, religion, opinion, economic condition, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other grounds.”

This isn’t the first case of a sexist menu. 

La Rosa Nautica isn’t the first restaurant to offer different menus to men and women or come under fire for it. In the 1980s, the L’Orangerie, a renowned restaurant in Los Angeles, was sued for sex discrimination by customers who did not like that servers gave women a white menu without prices and a green menu to men that included them. 

According to DW, some upscale German restaurants have “ladies menus” available upon request. 

“Dresden’s Moritz is one of the country’s few restaurants where female diners with a male accompaniment receive a separate women’s menu without being asked. Restaurant manager Loretta Meister told the German newspaper that although the menu never stirred any problems, ‘it’s a bit old fashioned.'” 

There’s an important reason men paying for dinner is sexist. 

How individuals choose to split their bills is nobody’s business, but when society does not give people a choice about who pays for what is when we get into trouble. For centuries men have been conditioned to be the “providers” and society was constructed to follow that belief. This is the justification for paying women less  — the implication being there should be a man at home paying for the rest. Moreover, when a man pays for a woman’s dinner there is the misguided notion that he is owed something in return. 

A 1985 study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that “rape was rated as more justifiable when the man paid all the dating expenses rather than splitting the costs with the woman.” A more recent study from 2010 found that men were more likely to expect sex if they paid for an expensive date. 

Nevertheless, a 2014 study found that in 77 percent of heterosexual relationships men had paid the bill on the first date. 

“As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult,” David Frederick, a professor of psychology at Chapman University, told The Huffington Post. “Who pays for dates … is one arena where women may be resisting gender changes more than men.” 

While it is not inherently sexist for a man to pay for a date, it is important to be mindful of the reasons why he might feel compelled to do so. At La Rosa Nautica patrons didn’t have a choice — and that’s not good for men or women. 

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