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.