Thursday 6 December 2012

An Incomplete List of Unsafe Spaces

Today I accepted a flyer for a women's only gym. My previous work subsidized a gym - the sort of gym that was frequented by minor celebrities, and made people say, "That's a nice gym!" I couldn't afford it without the subsidy, so quit it when I quit my last job, and have been thinking about joining a new one.

"Women's only gyms, I don't agree with them at all," said my (male) friend. "Women's-only weights rooms in normal gyms I understand, but a whole gym just for women - ugh."

If he made a coherent point about why women's only spaces are a bad thing, I didn't catch it before I pointed out he has never existed in the world as a woman or a fat person and to check his privilege. (Which he did, or at least shut up, which is effectively the same thing in this context.)

Even at the Very Nice Gym, I had poor experiences.

The average gym user was obviously - from the diagrams displayed on the machines, to the attitude of the boys on the weights - assumed to be male. I had a male trainer slot me into a machine and tell me to bring my arms together - picture 'I must, I must, increase my bust.' The machine whacked into my (spectacularly average sized) bust and it took repeating, "I can't bring my arms together," twice before the poor man realised why.

The second notable poor experiment was a trainer's comment. He was standing behind me, and said encouragingly: "Lift those breasts up! Arms up! Lift those arms up!"before quietly slipping away as if nothing had happened.

Of course the gym is not the only unsafe space. The following is an incomplete list of places where I have felt unsafe because of men:

  • Public buses
  • Fast food restaurants (After hearing a women was raped in the bathroom, I never went back to Burger King Takapuna)
  • Lifts
  • The footpath
  • Political meetings and events 
  • Work places (plural - not current)
  • School playgrounds
  • Lecture theatres
  • The gym in the basement of the building of new work
  • My own home (as a child. I feel secure in my current home)


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