At the time of writing, I’m sitting at a charity boxing match (or rather, a couple of dozen boxing matches): It’s billed as white-collar boxing, and the idea is that ordinary (albeit, it seems, impressively fit) white-collar folks get up and fight other ordinary people with all the proceeds going to Cancer Research. It’s a noble cause, and though the speakers immediately behind this table are putting me at serious risk of going deaf, an enjoyable night.
But this, of course, is just one of many thousands of gendered spaces (and that’s sidestepping the classist implications of ‘white-collar’ boxing existing in the first place). The whole arena is dripping in testosterone; there are the stereotypical ‘ring girls’ with the “Round 2” cards in bunny-girl leotards and six-inch heels; there are both male and female fighters, but paired on their assumed genders. And I dare bet if one of the assumed females had said she’d rather fight an assumed male boxer, she wouldn’t have been allowed.
And that’s to say nothing about training. I’m thinking this looks sort of fun, and maybe a good way to get in shape – but could I handle training in a segregated team based on my genitals? (Could I make myself get over that if it’s for charity?) And now I’ve started wrapping myself up in all sorts of confusion about binary sexism and why are they split out this way anyway, which is… tangentially relevant, but probably wasn’t my point.
This, plus a reader suggestion about feminine spaces – which we’ll cover in more detail in a future chat – has led to this week’s discussion topics. As ever, they’re just there to get you thinking…
Q1) Do you voluntarily exist in a ‘gendered’ space, such as a gym, club, perhaps even profession (per stereotypes)?
Q2) If/when you have to exist in a gendered space, how do you handle it? Pass? F*** expectations? Other?
Q3) Is there ever a need for gendered spaces (especially in sports), perhaps for safety or fairness reasons? Or not at all?
Q4) Do you have any anecdotes or advice for navigating such things which you could share?