I am concerned about the growing trend towards all female spaces and groups. last year, the BBC heralded Caroline Lucas’s call for an all female emergency cabinet and it also reported on all-female dance venues in Kenya. Around me I see fewer mixed gender groups of friends going out together.
Whilst I get that some women are more comfortable just with other women and that this may be as a result of bad experiences with men (especially in some countries), I feel that normalising the separation of men and women leads to greater misunderstandings and reduces the prospect of mutual respect and appreciation. In addition, separation reinforces ridiculous stereotypes about men and women.
I have long advocated greater social integration between men and women as the way forward (i.e. being friends and going out as friends). By this I mean people not simply thinking that a social night means a ‘lads’ night out’ or a ‘night out with the girls’. By implying that there is an innate difference in the quality of our company socially we weaken each others’ ability to be taken seriously, not just in social situations but at work, in business and in relationships and the family. If we spent more time in each others company as friends it would reduce the ‘awkwardness’ that exists in at other times.
My view has detractors, including people’s less than trusting partners. Many people want to reinforce the stereotypes that exist to reassure themselves about their comfort zones. Some people don’t like some other people, fine but don’t base this on gender. It is only by accepting that people are equally valuable as friends, people that we actually choose to be with, that barriers will be broken down in all aspects of our lives.