Home feminism gender recent Feminists Were Against Single Sex Spaces, Before They Were For Them
Home feminism gender recent Feminists Were Against Single Sex Spaces, Before They Were For Them

Feminists Were Against Single Sex Spaces, Before They Were For Them

Before anyone worried about a 300 lb bearded man sharing dressing rooms, saunas, and sports teams with the fairer sex, the war on single sex spaces was being waged by feminists.

During the 1970s, feminists demanded access to all-male clubs and insisted that female sports reporters had the right to interview half-naked male athletes. The consensual single-sex male space had all but disappeared in the new century except as a distant memory. The triumph of feminism further atomized male spaces and communities while leaving female ones intact.

By the next decade, books like Hannah Rosin’s ‘The End of Men (and the Rise of Women)’ forecast a world in which masculinity had been reduced to an evolutionary dead end. Such hollow triumphalism still persists in some feminist circles, but, as any biologist could have explained, the end of men foreshadowed the end of women.

Men and women cannot in the long run exist without each other either biologically or societally.

The feminist movement is using the same tactics against women that it did against men. Feminism was not a preference for women over men, as its useful idiots thought, but a profound hostility to the family and the biological duality on which it was based. When feminism campaigned around the idea that women were no different than men, too few understood at the time that what it really meant was that neither men nor women existed as unique beings.

Once the end had come for men, it would also come for women.

The opposition of some feminists to the transgender movement may be courageous, but it’s also hypocritical and self-serving. Did feminists really think that male single-sex spaces would be dismantled while female single-sex spaces would be left intact? The feminist movement, like every other leftist identity politics cause, consisted of chauvinists and leftists. The chauvinists believe in the supremacy of the group while the leftists believe in abolishing the groups.

Much as the black nationalists of the civil rights movement broke off from the liberal consensus when it diverged from their racial supremacism, some feminists have broken off into TERFs whose hostility to men has only sharpened when confronted with the transgender movement.

The Left weaponizes out-groups against in-groups, not because it loves the out-group, but because its hatred of the in-group makes it a useful lever for destroying all the groups. It does not believe in any group. It finds, defines and sometimes creates disadvantaged groups, leads their causes and then abandons them. It does not believe in races, genders, nations, sexualities or any of the distinctions that it weaponizes only to dismantle them.

The paradox of identity politics is that it is wielded to eliminate races, genders, sexualities and nations. After every new civil rights struggle has been won, the new struggle dismantles the old. The transgender movement is only the latest iteration of a familiar phenomenon that supersedes each redefinition with a new redefinition that takes away the newly won achievements.

A new oppressed group always comes along to expose the old oppressed group as oppressors. And the cycle of oppression, struggle and liberation begins again.

Single sex spaces for men were attacked for representing male privilege. Now single sex spaces for women are attacked on the same grounds. The universalization of gender classes women with men as ‘cis’ oppressors of the transgenders. And, when the time comes, the transgenders will be denounced as the oppressors of the non-binaries or the asexuals.

Why settle for crossing gender when you can mix and match or abolish them entirely?

In the identity politics paradigm, only some can be the heroes, but everyone, from Holocaust survivors to the grandchildren of freed slaves, will be made into villains.

The Left’s goal is to destroy the categories whose divisions it exploits. Universalization, its underlying mandate, eliminates not only the divisions of the moment, but all divisions. The male club, the female dressing room and all the sanctuaries that separate the sexes, have to go.

The resistance to the transgender movement has been far too rooted in feminist chauvinism and hostility toward men. Its assertions of victimhood are falling on deaf ears because a new class of victims has emerged. A truly meaningful resistance requires remembering what it is that makes men and women different, and what the ‘gender binary’ really offers to all of us.

Unless we reunite the way that the Left divided us, we will be splintered by the infinite divisions and subdivisions of identity politics. The natural divisions of sex are not only healthy, they are meaningful, and they show us that men and women are incomplete without the other. When these divisions are shattered, instead of upheld, new divisions will form without end.

The feminist mantra that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle still haunts a ‘gender critical’ movement that is entrenched in its hostility to men and loves women only as victims. A negative vision of women as victims inspires only resentment and is doomed to fail. The idea that women can be men has proven to be equally disastrous as a generation of teenage girls aspires to become men by cutting off body parts and mutilating themselves into masculinity.

Women and men can only survive the Left’s assault by standing together, not pulling apart. A feminism based on hostility to men and masculinist movements based on hostility to women just accelerate the breakup of the family and civilization. The only path forward is not Gloria Steinem or Andrew Tate, it’s not women hating men or men hating women, but the reunion of the sexes.

Men and women are different. The dynamic complementary relationships that form within romantic bonds, families, workplaces and intellectual dialogues from those differences make humanity what it is. Cultures, like Islam, that repress and sideline women, are hopelessly impoverished and incapable of constructing a civilization based on anything other than rape and murder. And an ‘End of Men’ culture is too busy wallowing in feelings and empathy to make the hard decisions it needs to move forward. Its streets are overrun with criminals, its borders with invaders and its geopolitical map with rival powers. Its infrastructure is collapsing and its institutions are running on inertia. Civilization needs both men and women.

Women and men humanize each other, give each other purpose and meaning, and introduce ways of thinking and acting to one another that do not come naturally to the other. Secure men and women also respect each other’s differences and the need to retreat into single sex spaces for dignity, modesty, companionship and the surroundings of people who are like them.

Single sex spaces are an important element of sex differences. They allow men and women to retreat to places where they temporarily do not need to accommodate a very different sex and can socialize on the familiar and natural terms of their biological natures. To permanently abide in single sex spaces is fundamentally unhealthy, but to reject them entirely is destructive.

Beyond the physical differences that make athletic competition across the sexes into an absurdity in many arenas, men and women need a balance of being in the company of those they naturally understand and those whom they have to challenge themselves to understand.

To be who we are, we need single sex spaces, and to be more than we are, we join with the opposite sex. Feminism and the transgender movement, in line with the leftist universalizing tendency, deny the ways we draw strength from similarities and contrasts. The constant insistence on diversity above all else is a nihilistic destructive impulse that destroys all.

We must know who we are in order to bridge differences. Similarity and diversity are both important. Without diversity, we do not grow, and without similarity, we are torn apart.

Women and men draw strength from who they are, the iconic models of their sex, the cowboys and princesses, the soldiers and nurses, to become husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, to become the best of their selves so that they can offer that ideal to each other in a true partnership that is the basis of a marriage, of a society and of a civilization.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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  1. All-male groups and organizations are "exclusionary." All-female groups and organizations are "safe spaces." Yep. They said this in the 90s, and more... allowed to overcompensate for years of male-dominated aggressive oppression. In other words, hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy. The underlying force hasn't change, only how it gets manifested.

  2. AislaS16/7/23

    This is profound and will require a few re-readings.
    Quite wonderful
    Particularly liked to be reminded that when we were gloating at breaking into men's safe spaces
    ( sic), we were simply creating the grounds for blokes to invade ours. Just took time
    Excellent,"sow the wind,reap the whirlwind" huh?


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