Thursday, December 29, 2016

Galatas Hotel Ladies Dining Room

Greenville [Alabama] Advocate, 23 January 1895
Galatas Hotel Ladies Dining Room
Location: 37 Commerce Street, Greenville, Alabama, USA
Opened/Closed: c. 1895

The southern US was a miserable place during the 1890s--resurging racism via Jim Crow segregation, lynching, economic panics.

Yet at least wealthy white women were able to have their own ladies dining room (albeit on the second floor, which is generally considered second class real estate, but who can be picky). Right?

Actually, not really.

At least according to this advertisement, men were not admitted UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY LADIES, which means, of course, that it was not truly for ladies at all.

History has as many consistencies as elements of change. And one is that "women's space" is always provisional and that men always insist on some kind of access, though the terms of that access may change from one era to the next. And that even white upper class privilege will not help very much in making a space truly for women only.

Needless to say, poor women and women of color seldom got even this kind of token space.

You may rest assured, however, that ladies were banned pretty much 100% from any "men's space" though. Especially during that era.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who Crushed the Lesbian Bars?

Same double standard, just different bullsh** when it comes to legitimizing why its ok for men to have their own space (8 gay bars for men in Portland), but women can't (not a single freaking party where dickheads aren't hitting on you).

From Williamette Week:

Who Crushed the Lesbian Bars? A New Minefield of Identity Politics

Portland, an LGBTQ haven, doesn't have a single dance party that caters exclusively to women seeking women. Good luck starting one.

By Ellena Rosenthal |
13 hours ago

A slightly dumpy strip mall on Northeast Sandy Boulevard near Interstate 205 houses a convenience store and the closest thing Portland has to a lesbian bar.
Just don't call it that.
Six years ago, 40-year-old Jenn Davis and her partner, Armida Hanlon, opened Escape Bar & Grill.
Davis is a lesbian. Many of her customers are lesbians.
A neon sign in the bar advertising Southern Comfort has a minuscule rainbow underlining the whiskey's logo. On a Saturday night, groups of 30-something women belt karaoke tunes next to baby boomer trans women with blown-out hair and sparkling dresses.
But Davis refuses to call Escape a lesbian bar.
"I think when you put a label on the bar, it goes downhill," she says. "And the people who come in here love that we don't label it."
Davis' reluctance to leave anyone out is a clue to solving a mystery.
Why in Portland—one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in America, and home to the nation's first bisexual governor and its first lesbian House speaker—is there no lesbian nightlife?
It's been six years since the Egyptian Club, better known as the E-Room, lowered its rainbow flag in Southeast Portland, and in that time no brick-and-mortar lesbian bar has emerged to fill its space. (By contrast, Portland has eight gay bars for men.)
Moreover, the city doesn't have a single dance night or recurring party that caters exclusively to women seeking women.
So what happened?
Did the lesbian bar disappear because people's identities splintered, leaving behind too few people to patronize women-only spaces? Or did it vanish because mainstream culture has evolved, turning every bar in Portland—from Sloan's Tavern to the Florida Room—into an unofficial lesbian bar?
The answer is a little of both.
The transgender rights movement that's gained steam in recent years has exploded the categories of gay and straight and male and female.
This fall, Portland State University allowed students to choose from nine genders and nine sexual orientations when filling out demographic paperwork.
In PSU's recent survey of students and their identities, more students identified as "pansexual" than lesbian (see glossary).
And PSU's students are typical of their generation.
"I've never felt comfortable with the term lesbian," says Llondyn Elliott, 19, who identifies as non-binary. "It's really restricting to me to say I'm a lesbian. That means I'm a girl who likes girls. But am I a girl? And do I only like girls? No."
The result? Announcing that a Portland party is intended exclusively for lesbians is stepping into a minefield of identity politics.
In the past two years, events catering to lesbians, like the monthly meet-up Fantasy Softball League, have been targeted online as unsafe spaces for trans women and others who don't identify with feminine pronouns. This past summer, semi-regular parties for lesbians, like Lesbian Night at Old Town's CC Slaughters, changed their names and focus to avoid controversy and be more inclusive. And lesbian-owned bars that draw lesbian customers, like Escape, shun the label so as not to offend.
The fights over language may seem academic and obscure if you're not part of them. But they are increasingly the battlegrounds over how people see themselves and how the world sees and treats them—and those views strain friendships, shutter events and start internet flame wars.
Trish Bendix, former editor of AfterEllen, an online publication about lesbian, queer and bisexual women in the media, lived in Portland from 2011 to 2014. She says she has never been around so many queer people in her life, but she was often among a minority who identified as lesbian.
"I often feel like lesbians are forgotten or left behind," she says, "and sometimes it feels lonely."
Changing language
Emily Stutzman, 31, tried to create a space for lesbians. It ended poorly.
A producer for a Portland ad agency, Stutzman says she couldn't find places in the city to hang out with other lesbians after moving here from Indiana in 2008.
In 2014, after ending a romantic relationship, an unsettling thought struck her: "How do I find somebody else?"
So that year she decided to create her own social gathering for lesbians, calling it Fantasy Softball League, a winking nod to stereotypes about lesbians. The "league" had nothing to do with softball, and instead was a monthly meet-up at Vendetta, a bar on North Williams Avenue.
"Hey ladies," an ad beckoned. "Cool girls, drinking cool drinks in a cool bar, talking about cool stuff."
But all was not cool.
In summer 2015, Stutzman, who has wavy red hair and wears an enameled "I Love Cats" pin on her jean jacket, recalls walking through Vendetta greeting people when someone she'd never met—someone who didn't identify with traditional female conventions like the pronoun "she"—confronted her.
"The person was hostile, and wanting to pick a fight," Stutzman recalls. "This person was offended and said they would tell their friends that we were a group of people that were non-inclusive and not respectful of their gender."
The person—Stutzman never got a name—left the event, and Stutzman was left feeling confused. As she looked around, she saw many people who fell between male and female. She thought her event was inclusive, even if the vernacular wasn't.
"What we wanted to say is, if you're a straight dude, don't come to this event," she says. "Everyone else was fine."
Stutzman adjusted her language, no longer calling Fantasy Softball League a lesbian event. Instead, she called it an event for queer women. But even with the change, Stutzman still worried.
"Everything I tried, someone was offended," she says. "It got weird and political, and I wanted it to be a fun thing."
That fall, Stutzman handed responsibility for the event to Alissa Young, who renamed the event Gal Pals, relocated it to the Florida Room on North Killingsworth Street, and ran into more trouble. Some people took offense at the event's new feminine name.
So Young folded the event. Now she mourns the loss: "Can't we have spaces that are just for lesbians?"
The uproar over Fantasy Softball League was repeated several times this past summer at other events.
After being accused of condoning "trans women exterminationism" in August, the organizers of Temporary Lesbian Bar apologized for imagery used to promote the inclusive monthly event at Mississippi Pizza.
The offense? Using the labrys—a double-sided ax often associated with Greek goddesses and a symbol of female strength—as the group's icon. "Hold this group accountable," wrote Viridian Sylvae, a transgender lesbian, on Facebook, noting the image's connection to Greek fascism and violence against trans women.
In September, a monthly party for queer women in Portland drew rebukes because it called itself a "dyke party" that catered to women and "female-identified folk."
"Everyone who is female-identified is a woman," wrote one critic on Facebook. "Are you saying that you believe there are people who identify as women who aren't women?"
CC Slaughters, an Old Town gay bar, used to host Lesbian Night. It now calls the weekly bash Queer Bait. "We're trying to be more inclusive, because that's the crowd that's coming in here—gay men, lesbians, transgender people and heterosexuals," says Nemo Haycock, CC Slaughters' manager.
At Crush, a queer bar on Southeast Morrison Street, manager Chris Stewart told an organizer of an event for queer and trans women that they couldn't use the word "exclusively" in their advertisements for the event. That would run afoul of anti-discrimination laws that allow, for example, ladies nights but draw the line at ladies-only nights. Stewart says it would have also gone against what Crush stands for as a bar—that everyone is welcome.
"We can't ask anyone to check in with their identity at the door," Stewart says.
Kim Davis, owner of the now-closed E-Room, cites a combination of factors that doomed her business after 15 years. The Great Recession, Oregon's smoking ban in bars, and her own health—not changes in people's identities—made carrying on a challenge. She says it was always harder to run a bar that catered to women than one that catered to men, who tend to have more money and motivation to go out to drink during the week.
But Davis also noticed shifts in how her clientele interacted with the outside world. If she opened a bar today, she says, she probably wouldn't call it a lesbian bar.
"It's hard to do anything today without hurting somebody's feelings," Davis says. "If you wanted to have a lesbian bar in Portland today, you would be free to do that. At the same time, people might think you're taking away their freedom by calling it that."
Lesbian bars in other cities also close
Portland is not an anomaly. Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York have all witnessed the decline of the lesbian bar, as former customers forge new identities—and new connections via the internet.
How did this shift happen?
It wasn't too long ago that identifying as lesbian (or gay, bisexual or trans) carried a huge stigma. On Election Day, Gov. Kate Brown told a crowd of supporters "what it felt like to live in fear" of losing her job as a young lawyer because she was in a relationship with a woman at the time.
Today, expectations have changed. Not only did voters elect Brown governor, Oregon lawmakers elected Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) to be their House speaker, the nation's first openly lesbian speaker. And she's hardly the only gay woman in power in Portland or Salem. From Portland Public Schools to Portland City Hall, lesbians have led the way.
But language has also changed.
Craig Leets, director of PSU's Queer Resource Center, says students don't feel limited to calling themselves "gay" or "straight." For some, it's too mainstream, too apolitical. It's lost the ability to jolt outsiders like the Midwestern grandmothers who've embraced Ellen DeGeneres. "It feels too comfortable," he says.
It would probably be unthinkable to PSU's non-straight students to go back to an earlier, more prescriptive era. In the university's 2016 survey of students and their identities, most students who didn't identify as straight identified as bisexual—some 30 percent.
State Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), one of the sponsors of the bill that expanded the definitions of gender and sexual orientation available to Oregon college students, is in awe of the changes. (The bill, signed into law in 2015, asks all Oregon public colleges and universities to offer students these choices. That's an unusual advance given that only a few other university systems, including in California and New York, do anything similar.)
"There's a lot more gender fluidity than when I was growing up in the 1980s," says Nosse, who is among several openly gay Oregon lawmakers. "We didn't even talk about bisexuality."
The debate over naming identities and creating spaces for them isn't limited to women. However, Byron Beck, WW's former Queer Window columnist, says the conversation is not as prevalent in gay male culture. "It's easy to find gay events for men in town," he says.
Among some women, the expansion of the LGBT community into the LGBTQQIAAP community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) has produced splinters.
Griffin Smith, 23, used to call herself a lesbian. Two years ago, Smith started dating people who didn't identify as women but instead identified as transgender or non-binary. Today, she says women-only events and labels feel uncomfortable, almost archaic in their restrictions. She prefers to call herself queer.
"Someone told me once, who was a lesbian, that 'she didn't fuck with girls who fucked with boys,' and I found that really off-putting," Smith says. "I was surrounded by lesbians, and at the same time I was dating someone who was non-binary, and it was super, super uncomfortable for me to identify as a lesbian at that point."
Sally McWilliams, a professor of women and gender studies at PSU, echoes what the numbers show, saying more of her female students call themselves queer than lesbian, telling her the term lesbian feels too limiting. It got to the point that she questioned whether she should continue to offer her course in lesbian literature, believing it may no longer be relevant.
"Now that there are more options around sexuality and gender expression, it's been liberating for some," she says. "It's also problematic. This kind of micro-naming we have going on makes it hard then to say, how do you have an inclusive community if you have all these little subcategories?"
Jenn Davis, who owns Escape, knows about those divides.
She also runs weekly dance parties in Portland and Seattle called Inferno: A Hot Flash Production. She and her partner bought the event company in 2014.
Under different ownership, the events were geared toward older lesbians—mostly women over 40. The events are now open to women and the trans community.
But that change was controversial. Patrons complained because men were coming in. Other patrons complained when Davis started checking IDs at the door for gender markers. Still others complained when she stopped checking IDs. (Trans patrons can now call ahead, or simply tell door staff their identity.)
Davis has so far resisted the trend to expand Inferno's brand to a queer party.
"We will lose the women," she says. "There's been a lot of changes. I'm scared of how to speak with people sometimes because I don't want something wrong to come out of my mouth."
"A place where people can dance, let loose and not feel worried"
So what does the future look like?
It looks a lot like Psychic Techniques, a queer rave held monthly until recently in the Central Eastside Industrial District.
Vera Rubin, the event's planner, says she sees the value in queer-only and gender-specific spaces, but not when it comes to her parties.
"We don't want a party that's just all dykes or all gay men," Rubin says. "When we think of cities with really good vibrant nightlife, they're always mixed parities that are pushing the city forward."
Psychic Techniques disbanded last month partly for business reasons, but many other inclusive parties, such as Lez Do It, Judy on Duty and CAKE, will serve its role.
"Everyone is welcome," says Megan Holmes, who runs Judy on Duty at the High Water Mark on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. "It's a place where people can dance, let loose and not feel worried."
On a recent Saturday night, a strong, continuous beat pulsated inside the District East warehouse at Psychic Techniques. Revelers in 7-inch stiletto boots wearing geisha-like costumes and press-on nails like daggers jostled next to dancers wearing everyday jeans with carabiners dangling from belt loops. A bartender wore nothing but a black leather thong. Drag queens wore headdresses with LED lights that looked like jellyfish.
"All the different pieces of us that don't fit into mainstream gay culture," says Jessica Starling, a drag queen who identifies as a high femme daddy. "This is just the place for that."
Under a disco ball that sparkled with flashing colored lights, a full rainbow of Portland's lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community unfurled. Walking into Psychic Techniques, it was hard to identify the gender and sexual identities of the revelers.
And no one was even trying.
WW staff writer Beth Slovic contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Crazy Nanny's

Crazy Nanny's

Location: 32 7th Avenue South, New York, New York, USA

Opened: 1990s?

Closed: Ceased to be lesbian bar around 2004
The former Crazy Nanny's

From Club Planet:

Crazy Nanny's - Like no other Lesbian bar in New York, is the reason it is always jam-packed. Friendly and lively, as well as casual and fashionable. Crazy Nanny's is a diverse place to enjoy a game of pool downstairs and dancing upstairs. It is like a lesbian fun park, trivia night, karaoke nights, and drag queen performances and of course DJ's.

City Tips says the following:

Lesbian hangout
Flannel-shirt wearing lesbians of all ages and shapes mix it up with pretty young women at this West Village bar and dance club, recognizable by its pink exterior. Inside it resembles most other neighborhood bars, but with a definite edge. The great DJs, strong drinks and homey atmosphere make it an ideal place to shoot pool and wait for the women of your dreams. Drinks are cheap and there is no cover charge.

A June 2004 article in The Villager reported that Crazy Nanny's had "recently" gone "hetero," and at any rate, all other gay bar sites report that it is closed--though as usual, no date is given.

As to when Crazy Nanny's opened, this June 1998 article in the Observer mentions Crazy Nanny's in passing, so it was obviously around then.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Hideaway

The Hideaway
The Hideaway

Location: 1756 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Opened/Closed: Mid 1990s -2014

Notice how all the same lame excuses are trotted out regarding the loss of womyn's space. Basically that all you girls should be happy with a nomadic party scene that pops up now and then. Who needs dedicated space? Who needs community you can actually find when you need it? Just be content with basically being homeless, stateless, with a "community" that's chaotic and incoherent. It's the cool thing now! (At least for lesbians. Nobody else would accept this deal as cool.)

From Watermark Online:

Overheard in Tampa Bay: Oldest lesbian bar in Florida shuts down

By : Anonymous

The oldest lesbian bar in the state shuttered its doors on Jan. 13, ending an era of more than 20 years on St. Petersburg’s Fourth Street. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the bar is done. The Hideaway, and it’s neighboring boy bar, Haymarket Pub, went out with big bashes and announced that while the land and buildings may have been sold, the spirit of the bars could keep the party alive at a different location. That location, however, has yet to be announced. Facebook pages for both of the hot spots hint at a resurrection in the future, and the faithful seem to be ready to support the renaissance whenever and wherever it may appear.

The Flame

The Flame

Location: 3780 Park Boulevard, San Diego, California, USA

Opened/Closed: 1984-2015

Yet another lost lesbian space we somehow missed from last year.

From San Diego Uptown News:

Park Boulevard nightclub The Flame is sold
Posted: October 9th, 2015
By Ken Williams | Editor

The Flame — a landmark lesbian bar that opened in 1984, and then changed hands 20 years later — was sold this week to a Hillcrest developer.

James Nicholas of Clownfish Partners, who bought the vacant property at 3780 Park Blvd. from seller Donny Duenas for $1.9 million, told San Diego Uptown News that he will be turning the single-story structure into a multi-use project by adding six apartments and a central courtyard.

Nicholas said he plans to “restore the façade” of the vintage building and keep the iconic sign. “It will stay on the building and get restored to its former glory,” he vowed.

Members of the LGBT community have been worried about saving buildings that have historical significance. Nicholas said The Flame building has never been designated as historical. “There is currently a study being done to see if it is, in fact, historic,” he said. “If it is designated as historic, I would love to have it acknowledged on the building.”

The “Hillcrest History Timeline” published on HillQuest’s website offers this tidbit about the old nightclub:
1984 — The Flame, an old supper club on Park Blvd (named after a fire destroyed the first restaurant, The Garden of Allah), reopens as a lesbian bar. It changes ownership twenty years later, after being purchased by the owners of Numbers, a watering hole across the street. The Flame changed ownership again in 2010.”

The seller’s brokerage firm, Location Matters of Del Mar, stated in a news release that Duenas had operated The Flame since 2008. Mike Spilky of Location Matters handled the sale and Paul Ahern of Location Matters will oversee the leasing of the cocktail lounge.

The developer said the 6,098-square-foot lot is already zoned for multi-use, so the addition of six apartments won’t require rezoning. Nicholas explained where the apartments will be built in relationship to the existing building, which has 7,800 square feet and a basement.

“They will be within the existing structure above the new cocktail lounge that will be reduced in size to 2,000 square feet and behind the new cocktail lounge and will go up a total of three stories, two more than the ground floor,” Nicholas said.

Until a tenant is signed for the cocktail lounge, there is no telling whether the bar will remain LGBT oriented. The developer said he has no preference.

News of the sale of the vacant property quickly drew praise from several community leaders in Hillcrest.

“I am happy to hear that there is movement on this property. New residential is always a good thing in Hillcrest,” said Ben Nicholls, executive director of Hillcrest Business Association.

“I am enthusiastic to have the property continue as a nightlife and entertainment destination. I do hope that the new owners seek out a creative entertainment concept that fits with the new hip feel of Park Boulevard,” he said.

“The days of the Flame being a ‘hole in the wall’ are over. Whatever happens, I am confident that the iconic signage and LGBT cultural influence will feature prominently at that location.”

Luke Terpstra, chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, welcomed the property’s sale.

“This part of Hillcrest has really been improving over the last couple of years and this is good news when a business can reopen and breathe neighborhood life again,” Terpstra said. “It does not need to be a gay business, just a successful business that serves the community at large.”

This stretch of Park Boulevard, south of University Avenue, is part of the city’s Egyptian Quarter. The Flame, however, does not reflect that style of architecture. But the area is seeing a mini building boom with the construction of the Mr. Robinson loft building at the corner of Park Boulevard and Robinson Avenue. Executive chef Brad Wise will be opening TRUST restaurant in the new building.

Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and Mission Valley News and can be reached at or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Heraean Games

An artist's interpretation of ancient Olympia. [Photo: Public Domain]
Heraean Games

Location: Olympia, Greece

Opened/Closed: 776 BC-?

Selection from Atlas Obscura:

When Ancient Greece Banned Women From Olympics, They Started Their Own
Sadly, historians lack good documentation on the badass Heraean Games.

Much like their modern counterpart, the Olympic Games in ancient Greece wasn't exactly a level playing field for women. It's true that women of all ages were allowed to enjoy the festivities and exhilarating athletic events in cities throughout the Peloponnese states, including Delos and Athens. But the Games in Olympia in the land of Elis—the city where the Olympics originated—retained its traditional, sacred ban of women. Elis decreed that if a married woman (unmarried women could watch) was caught present at the Olympic Games she would be cast down from Mount Typaeum and into the river flowing below, according to Greek geographer and travel writer Pausanias.

During these ancient times, women lived much shorter lives, were excluded from political decision-making and religious rites, were forced into early marriages, and then gave birth to several children. Despite the societal inequalities and oppression, women in Greece wanted to play—so they started their own Olympics called the Heraean Games.

“Every fourth year,” Pausanias wrote in 175 A.D., “there is woven for Hera a robe by the Sixteen women, and the same also hold games called Heraea.”

The Heraean Games, a separate festival honoring the Greek goddess Hera, demonstrated the athleticism of young, unmarried women. The athletes, with their hair hanging freely and dressed in special tunics that cut just above the knee and bared their right shoulder and breast, competed in footraces. The track shortened to about one-sixth the length of the men’s was made up in the Olympic Stadium. While women were not allowed to watch the men’s Olympics, it’s uncertain if men were barred from these all-female races.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Women-Only Beaches in Morrocco

Not a lost space, but a proposed womyn-only space. Not clear to me why wanting a beach away from "the eyes of leering men" automatically makes one conservative. Guess us liberal gals are just supposed to enjoy sexual harassment? Really, all this is just a useful way for men to play divide-and-conquer. Instead of trying to buttonhole various actions as liberal or conservative, why don't we just ask if they are good for women and go from there?

From The New Arab:

No men allowed? Conservative Moroccan women demand ladies-only beaches
In Morocco, attitudes towards women's bodies are conservative
Date of publication: 22 July 2016
Women in Morocco have demanded that authorities set up a women-only public beach so that they can enjoy the sweltering summer heat away from the eyes of leering men.                 
Women in Morocco have demanded authorities set up a women-only public beach so that they can enjoy the sweltering summer heat away from the eyes of "leering men".
An activist group is campaigning to have their own stretch of public land where they can swim in accordance with their religious beliefs without the fear of being sexually harassed.
"If we take into consideration freedom and human rights then women clearly have the right enjoy the beach as they wish and according to their religious principles," women's rights campaigner, Fouzia al-Salhi, told The New Arab.
"The beaches are justified because there are women who refrain from undressing in front of men to swim because Islam commands that women conceal themselves and show modesty. We must respect their beliefs and protect their honour."
But the move has sparked controversy in the kingdom.
Activist Noureddine Mohammadi claimed women-only beaches would only further encourage intolerance and gender segregation.
"The calls for these female beaches happen every summer and come from Islamist groups that follow ideological convictions that women's bodies are disgraceful," Mohammadi said.
Conservative-leaning women want to enjoy the beach in privacy away from prying eyes, but opponents say it's a slippery slope for more gender segregation
     Private women's beaches are common in the Middle East [Getty]
He also said that the ladies beaches could lead to other public spaces being gender segregated such as parks.
In Morocco, attitudes towards women's bodies are conservative, which can put women who are deemed to be scantily dressed at risk of harassment.
Last year, two women who walked through a market wearing dresses faced charges of "gross indecency" - they were eventually cleared of the charges.
Local media reported this week that police were investigating a Facebook group posting images of women in bikinis in a bid to make them "turn to God".
"Watch out, young Moroccan women, we have eyes that are filming you on the beaches and we will show your photos to prevent the deterioration of the country," the group said.
Private beaches with areas allocated for women are common around the Middle East; however, they are usually expensive, making them inaccessible to the majority of the population.
In February, the United Arab Emirates dedicated a stretch of the coastline for women to sunbathe and enjoy the beach in privacy.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Union Women's Lounge, Michigan State?

Union Women's Lounge (2015)

Union Women's Lounge

Location: University of Michigan, Flint, Michigan, USA

Opened: 1925

Closed: Not yet, but endangered

With the explosion in campus rapes, assaults, etc., you'd think a male faculty member might have other serious matters to worry about. What could be more benign than a quiet little ol' study space? But you would be wrong. Ending womyn's space of any kind is a very important priority for the MRAs.

Should Michigan State have a women-only study lounge?

University of Michigan-Flint prof challenging space in student union

Should Michigan State have a designated space in its student union for only women to study?
Mark Perry, an economic professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, is challenging the designation, according to a story in The Daily Caller. Perry says the space "blatantly discriminates against men." He filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
While Perry isn't optimistic about the complaint, The Daily Caller reports MSU plans to renovate the Women's Lounge in the union into a lactation space and study space for men and women.
The Union Women's Lounge opened in 1925, according to the State News. It's been repeatedly challenged in recent years. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ladies Restroom?

Great post on the history of the increasingly endangered ladies restroom by Jan Whittaker at her blog, Restaurant-ing through History.

Ladies’ restrooms

by victualling
ladiesroomsignPublic restrooms have been in the news lately because of conflict over transgender rights, but I have been wondering about them for quite a while as part of my project to understand how restaurants developed.
We assume that restaurants will have restrooms for their customers today, but when did they become commonplace? And when did restaurants make an effort to specifically accommodate women with separate toilets? I am still not 100% sure about the answers.
Researching the history of sanitary facilities in restaurants has proved to be very difficult, starting with what terms to search for. Even today both “bathroom” and “restroom” are somehow inadequate. Yet restroom is better to capture the historical fact that those restaurants that had facilities for women usually were outfitted with more than toilets and sinks. They also had space – and many still do – where women could take care of little chores such as repairing their hairdos, or simply rest. [restroom shown below, ca. 1920s]
Prior to the 1860s, most public toilets were outdoors, behind saloons and restaurants, and the same was true of private dwellings. Flush toilets were quite rare in the United States until the 1880s, according to Suellen Hoy’s 1995 book Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness. Outhouses were commonplace  throughout the 19th century and well into the 1930s in homes in rural areas and poor neighborhoods.
The earliest ladies’ restroom I’ve found in a restaurant was in an elegant Chicago hotel. It’s likely that other hotels were similarly equipped, even though hotel bedrooms with private bathrooms were rare.  According to a story in 1864, the Chicago restaurant welcomed women diners and invited them to simply “call in for a rest, without intrusion, or being thought an intruder.” “Every provision has been made for the convenience of ladies,” the story said, “and a toilet-room specially apportioned to their use.” This would have been welcome news to women at a time when public accommodations for them were sorely lacking.
The restaurants that had toilets and restrooms for women seem to have been the more substantial ones that enjoyed prominence in their communities, as was often true of restaurants in leading hotels. So it was surprising to discover that an inexpensive lunch room, Cincinnati’s Alderney Dairy, had a toilet room for women in 1878.
Though still rare, the number of ladies’ rooms in restaurants grew in the 1880s with the spread of indoor plumbing and city sewers. According to a story from 1889, restrooms in fashionable restaurants were “sumptuously furnished” with velvet couches, floor to ceiling mirrors, and marble basins. Perfumes, face powders, rouges, lotions, ivory brushes and combs, as well as hat pins were supplied.
Yet, to put the lavish restroom described above into context, the supply of ladies’ rooms in restaurants and offices was still inadequate in the 1890s. In 1891 a restaurant in Portland ME felt justified to advertise that it had “the finest Ladies’ room east of Boston,” a considerable area. Often tall office buildings were constructed with ladies’ rooms only on the top floor. Even though women were increasingly taking jobs as clerical workers in offices, developers did not want to give up income-earning space to facilities for women on each floor. (Men, on the other hand, were supplied with small closets with a urinal-sink on each floor.)
Although the 1890s is often cited as the decade in which indoor plumbing took huge leaps, it is notable that restaurants continued to advertise ladies’ rest rooms throughout the 1920s [above advertisement, 1930], indicating that it had not yet become something that could be taken for granted despite the increase in women going to restaurants.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tommy's Joint/Tommy's Place

Jeannie Sullivan & Tommy Vasu (far right) taken at Mona’s.
Tommy's Joint (Later known as Tommy's Place)

Location: 299 Broadway (1948-1952), 529 Broadway (1952-1954), San Francisco, California, USA

Opened: 1948

Closed: 1954

Tommy's, along with Mona's, was one of the classic lesbian bars of that era. For some reason, I just never got around to posting on Tommy's earlier. Remedying that now.

From Before the Castro: North Beach, a Gay Mecca by Dick Boyd:

Tommy’s Joint, 299 Broadway, 1948 to 1952, Tommy’s Place, 529 Broadway, 1952 to 1954 (Now the Garden of Eden)
Tommy Vasu was the first known lesbian to legally own a bar in San Francisco. When out on the town she dressed like a man in double-breasted suits, wide tie and a fedora hat. She used the men’s room, had a beautiful blond girlfriend and loved to gamble. In short, she was a risk taker. She often came into Pierre’s for high stakes prearranged liar’s dice games with artist/entrepreneur Walter Keane.
The 299 Broadway site was where businessmen from the nearby financial district could find a willing hooker out of sight of prying eyes at places like Paoli’s. Stevedores from the docks close by also partook of the hookers on paydays. The hookers were the girlfriends of the butches who hung out there.
Adjoining Tommy’s Place was 12 Adler (now Specs) accessible by a back staircase. It was a lesbian pick-up rendezvous. Upstairs was entertainment pretty much by whoever cared to perform. During a purge of gay bars in the early 50’s, 12 Adler lost its liquor license in what appeared to outsiders as a set-up. Drugs were found taped to the drain under the sink in the ladies room.
Tommy ran the Broadway Parking concession and was around Broadway until the mid 60’s. Tommy’s high maintenance blond was a heroin addict and Tommy became a dealer to supply her needs. She got busted and sent to Tehachapi where she was murdered shortly after her release.

From It's a Raid by Michael Flanagan:
Bartender Grace Miller (left) at
Tommy's Place before it was raided.
Tommy's Place & 12 Adler
Spec Twelve Adler Museum Cafe (12 Saroyan Place) is on the alleyway (formerly Adler Street) across from City Lights. A colorful North Beach bar with enough bric-a-brac and curios on the walls to keep you entertained for hours, it's also full of North Beach characters.

But in the 1950s it was a lesbian bar, owned by the openly lesbian Tommy Vasu (and attached to Tommy's Place on 529 Broadway, now the Garden of Eden strip club, by a back stairs). The bars were the site of a sensational raid that resulted in a trial and months of hysteria in San Francisco.
A newspaper clipping of the
Tommy's Place and 12 Adler Place busts.

Boyd's Wide Open Town puts it this way: "...when Tommy's Place was raided on 8 September 1954, it was part of a much larger police agenda. Because the arrests involved a handful of underage girls, the event escalated into a multifaceted investigation into juvenile delinquency that fleshed out the ostensible connection between organized 'sex deviates' and the corruption of minors." Two bartenders and a patron, Jessie Joseph Winston, were put on trial. Winston and bartender Grace Miller served jail time and both bars were shut down.

Dave Cullen provides even more details on the 1954 raid:

Sept. 8, 1954 - Tommy's Place (a lesbian bar in San Francisco) is raided after an article in the S.F. Examiner about the 'marked influx of homosexuals' into San Francisco.  Because the arrests involved a number of underage girls there was an investigation into connections between 'sex deviants' and the corruption of minors.  There were accusations of benzedrene and barbituate use and that the girls were 'taught to smoke marijuana.'  Two bar owners were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Another bar owner was not arrested, but her name and address were printed in the paper.  The raid led to a Grand Jury investigation and a U.S. Senate sobcommittee hearing.  The young women involved were forced to publicly testify at the hearings and eventually the two owners were convicted of serving alcohol to a minor and served six months in prison.  Mr. Jesse Winston, an African-American man who was arrested for furnishing marijuana to a minor and possession of marijuana was sentenced to one to 20 years in San Quentin.

Wide-Open Town by Nan Alamilla Boyd also has several passages on Tommy's--too many to quote here.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Edmonton (1980s)

Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Opened/Closed: 1990s

Shakespeare's is one of those lesbian bars that once existed, but there is so little information (readily) available on it, it might as well be from ancient times.

The ONLY reference to this lesbian bar I can find is a list that Queer Edmonton keeps called Yeg's Gay Club Past:

SHAKESPEARE'S (199?-199?)
In the mid-'90s Shakespeare's was a downtown Edmonton lesbian bar. (10805-105 Avenue).

The only other lesbian bar listed is Secrets, which became Prism Bar and Grill, which became the Junction Bar & Eatery. We've posted on that place here.
By an interesting coincidence, we have also posted on a place called the Shakespeare Inn Ladies Café, which existed in Boston in the early 1900s. Most of what we know about that place is that men tried to crash it, which just goes to show that nothing is really new in the history of womyn's space. Maybe all the "queer theorists" should try to base a theoretical analysis on the actual historical record for once, instead of just making up stuff.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Women-only cars on Chicago CTA?

That this conversation is even taking place in the USA is fascinating. Liberals have told us for years that these things can't be done (that's discriminatory!) and shouldn't be done, because, you know, we need more (male) education! And this women-only thing is only done in "backwards" countries! Oh, and Not All Men Are Like That (NAMALT)!

Uh huh.

And that's when it was brought up at all, which was almost never. It was practically taboo to even bring up the topic for discussion.

Adult males need to be taught that it's not nice to rape or grope women? Frankly if they never got the message growing up, I doubt they're going to get it now. So let's looks into real-life solutions that help women now.

And isn't it paradoxical that as womyn's spaces that used to seem non-controversial and benign--restrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters--are increasingly threatened with elimination, we're seeing a RESURGENCE of interest in women-only public transportation options because of, shhh, male violence. The same thing we're not allowed to talk about when it comes to male voyeurs, cross-dressers, pedophiles and the like invading restrooms.

From Chicago Reader:

April 12, 2016

Could woman-only el cars prevent sexual harassment on the CTA?
It's worked in Mumbai and Tokyo, but the CTA says education is a better strategy.

By John Greenfield @greenfieldjohn

Last month, in the wake of hundreds of reported sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in Cologne, a German commuter train line announced it would offer railcars reserved for women and children.

Crowded transit systems in Japan, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Mexico, and Brazil already feature women-only rail cars in order to prevent harassment and assaults.

In response to that news, last week NPR commentator Rhitu Chatterjee wrote glowingly of the ladies' cars in her hometown of Delhi.

"It would be wonderful if men learned to accept women's presence in public spaces without feeling the need to harass them," Chatterjee wrote. "But until they do, the women's car is one good way for us to assert our right to public spaces."

Indonesian women board a women-only carriage of a commuter train on the outskirt of Jakarta, Indonesia. - IRWIN FEDRIANSYAH/AP
Indonesian women board a women-only carriage of a
commuter train on the outskirt of Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Irwin Fedriansyah/AP
  • Her op-ed got me thinking about whether female-only cars might be a strategy to combat sexual intimidation and violence on the CTA.

    In 2015 there were eight reported sexual assaults on the CTA—a category that includes everything from groping to rape—according to spokesman Jeff Tolman.

    He characterized that as "extremely few instances," considering that 516 million rides were taken last year.

    While lesser offenses often aren't reported to the CTA or police, stories female friends and colleagues shared with me by for this article suggest that inappropriate behavior is all too common on the system.

    Jane, a 43-year-old urban planner (who like many women I spoke to asked that we not use her real name), reported that men have catcalled and exposed themselves to her on the el on multiple occasions.

    Alice, a 53-year-old legal assistant, told me she's tall and assertive enough to intimidate would-be offenders, but has petite friends who've endured so much harassment that they only ride the train alone at rush hour, or not at all.

    One of them is Blanca Robledo-Atwood, a Colombian-born graphic designer who's four-feet-11.

    One evening she was riding the Red Line when a tall, beefy guy sat down next to her and whispered in her ear, "You are so beautiful—I want to be your friend."

    After trying in vain to ignore his advances, she spoke loudly to him in Spanish, which he didn't seem to understand. "He got embarrassed and tried to hide," she recalls.

    Still, she feared the man would follow her off the train.

    After that she stopped riding the el by herself at night.

    The man who tried to hit on 34-year-old nonprofit worker Ellen on the Blue Line's Jackson platform at 2 AM was less polite.

    After she made it clear she wasn't interested, he snarled, "Well I'm a nice guy, but I hope your boyfriend continues to beat and rape you."

    Ellen held her ground in the ensuing shouting match, but she now thinks that was unwise.

    "I could have gotten stabbed that night-who knows," she says. After that she largely switched to commuting by bicycle.

    "I get high anxiety sometimes when I enter CTA trains, no matter how much I think I'm a strong and badass woman, and it pisses me off to feel that way."

    Brittany, 28, survived a sexual assault that occurred while she was riding the Blue Line out to Oak Park on a Tuesday afternoon in May 2014.

    As the train crawled through a slow zone west of the Kedzie-Homan station, a large man approached her in the otherwise empty car.

    The assailant held her down and attempted to rape her.

    She was able to snap his photo as he fled. (A few months later police apprehended the man, who'd been attacking other women for years, she says. He's now doing jail time.)

    Brittany rides the el less often nowadays, and when she does she tries to sit in the front car, with the driver.

    "I still have major issues taking trains," she says.

    Brittany and a few other women I spoke with thought women-only cars could be an effective way to address harassment and assault on the CTA, if the policy could be properly enforced.

    "I've heard enough of these stories that I think many women would welcome a female-only car," said the legal assistant.

    But there's skepticism as to whether such an approach is necessary in Chicago, even from transportation experts who take harassment seriously.

    “Putting men in a train car separate from me will not stop them from harassing me when we exit the train.” —Courage Project founder Kara Crutcher­

    Lauren Dean is an urban planning student at UIC who since 2011 has been doing research on the ladies' compartments of the Mumbai railway system.

    Gender-separated cars are crucial in India, she says, because "the crowding on the train makes it very easy for male commuters to grope or rub up against women who don't have any means of escape and often can't actually identify their assailant in such a huge crowd."

    In Chicago, street harassment is "absolutely an issue for female commuters," Dean says.

    But she adds that the physical space on the Mumbai trains is totally different—it's common for 14 to 16 passengers to be crammed into a single square meter of floor space.

    "Even at its most crowded, the CTA doesn't handle that kind of crushing passenger density," Dean says.

    The CTA's Tolman notes that 23,000 security cameras have been installed throughout the system in recent years to serve as a crime deterrent and aid police in catching offenders.

    But he dismisses the possibility of female el compartments in Chicago by pointing out that "no transit system in the United States uses women-only cars."

    Instead, the agency is addressing the problem through a new informational campaign.

    "If It's Unwanted, It's Harassment" warns would-be offenders that abusive behavior will not be tolerated.

    The centerpiece of the campaign is a new line of rail and bus advertisements encouraging riders who see a fellow passenger being hassled to speak up, contact CTA personnel via an onboard intercom, or call 911 if there's an immediate safety threat.

    But some of the credit for the new initiative should go to the Courage Campaign, a grassroots organization launched in 2014 by Uptown resident Kara Crutcher to fight harassment on the CTA.

    Last year the group successfully lobbied the agency to shift its focus from simply asking victims to report incidents to preventing abusive behavior by raising awareness of the problem.

    "We're happy to see a couple of CTA ads up regarding harassment," Crutcher said. "It is definitely a step in the right direction. . . . Personally, I hope that we can work with them to produce more educational ads, but we shall see."

    As for female-only cars, while Crutcher says these could provide a safe space for women suffering from post-harassment PTSD, she argues they're a Band-Aid solution that doesn't get to the root of the problem.

    "A cultural shift must occur," she says. "We must recognize and respect each other everywhere, but especially in these public spaces. . . . Putting men in a train car separate from me will not stop them from harassing me when we exit the train. But education, antistreet harassment advocacy, and courage might."

    John Greenfield edits the transportation news website Streetsblog Chicago.

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Glastonbury festival's "The Sisterhood"

    As genuine women-only space is stripped away--even places as seemingly innocuous as bathrooms and locker rooms--we seem to be seeing mainstream, male-dominated culture introducing a faux or "lite" version of womyn's space, as if to confuse women further.

    An example of this is the Glastonbury festival, where they have oh so thoughtfully set aside a little corner for the ladies. Ladies, of course, meaning anybody who at that particular moment can say they "identify" as a lady. And at a festival where the leadership does not appear to be identifiably female at all.

    Meaning it's all bullsh**--completely meaningless, anemic, and non-threatening to men.

    Of course, some men won't be in on the joke and will object anyway. Which is roughly 90% of the comments following the article. Men just freaking out over one damn tent that's "women-only" for just a few days. The rest are getting the wink and the nudge. Just throw on a wig and you're in.

    Glastonbury 2016 to introduce women-only venue
    The Sisterhood, in the festival’s Shangri-La zone, will offer live music, workshops and DIY classes to female festivalgoers
    The Sisterhood, Glastonbury festival will open in 2016.
    The Sisterhood, Glastonbury festival will open in 2016.
    Photograph: Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images
    The 2016 Glastonbury festival will feature its first ever women-only venue. Called The Sisterhood, it has been described by the organisers as a “revolutionary clubhouse” open to “all people who identify as women.” The Sisterhood will be an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space” and will be staffed entirely by people who identify as female, from performers to security staff. In a statement, the venue’s organisers said: “The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women-only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men. Oppression against women continues in various manifestations around the world today, in different cultural contexts." They continued: “In the UK, the gender pay gap in the workplace, cuts to domestic violence services and sex worker rights are current talking points that highlight this issue. Sisterhood seeks to provide a secret space for women to connect, network, share their stories, have fun and learn the best way to support each other in our global struggle to end oppression against women and all marginalised people, while showcasing the best and boldest female talent in the UK and beyond.” You’ll be able to find The Sisterhood in the festival’s Shangri-La zone, where there will be live music, DJs and workshops on intersectionality, diversity and inclusion. There will also be daily dance classes and, surely best of all, DIY power tools workshops with carpenter Rhi Jean.