Women dominated/women only spaces

(60 Posts)
mumwithdice Tue 20-Mar-12 11:33:14

I mostly lurk on here learning loads, but this is something I'm curious about. What on earth is so threatening to some men about women dominated or women only spaces?

If this is a Feminism 101 question, please just tell me. That said, I asked here because I want to know what you all think. I don't know what I think which is why I asked.

OP’s posts: |
blackcurrants Tue 20-Mar-12 12:18:26

Honestly, I think some men walk into a space where they are not likely to be (1) amongst other men and thereby automatically treated as 'in the gang' or (2) fawned over by women who think they exist to make men feel good and have a complete existential crisis. If the world doesn't revolve around ME, an insecure man thinks, it can't be working right! PANNIIIIC!

I suspect that for some men, women-dominated spaces are a threat to their perceived sense of entitlement to be the voice that gets heard. And women-only spaces are threatening because, as the oppressing class has always known when they try to restrict the ability of the oppressed class to gather together unmonitored- they must be up to something.

(Hint: We are grin)

Dworkin Tue 20-Mar-12 12:31:05

I'm so joining up for Zumba after reading this:


InAnyOtherSoil Tue 20-Mar-12 12:33:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beachcomber Tue 20-Mar-12 12:36:05

Welcome out of lurkdom. Not a 101 question at all (and 101 questions are fine when they are asked genuinely).

I think on one level men aren't used to being excluded from things - they benefit as a group from positive discrimination so it feels jolly unfair to them to not be allowed to dominate something.

Some men think women need; to be kept in their place/kept rational/to be told how to do things, etc by men.

Some men don't like the strength and support for each other that women get when they get together.

Some men understand that when women get together to discuss feminism they are going to analyse male privilege and the power structures that privilege men and oppress women. Some men don't like this because they do not want anything to happen that might mean that they have to relinquish some privilege or treat women as fully human.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Mar-12 12:39:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

InAnyOtherSoil Tue 20-Mar-12 12:41:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.


InAnyOtherSoil Tue 20-Mar-12 12:47:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beachcomber Tue 20-Mar-12 12:47:59

You see it on here all the time. Men are not excluded from this section due to the nature of MN but the space is definitely female dominated.

I find quite often male posters will tell us what they think we should/should not be discussing, make threads all about them and their personal experiences/world view, make threads about them not being given cookies and treated like heroes because they have thought about feminism for 30 seconds.

I don't know if this is a subconscious attempt to reassert authority due to feeling threatened by a female dominated discussion or if it is just the way these posters are all the time. Certainly it displays a sense of entitlement and a very annoying lack of humility and self awareness. And it's rude.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Mar-12 12:49:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beachcomber Tue 20-Mar-12 12:49:49

Doulas for men! WTF?!

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Mar-12 12:56:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Tue 20-Mar-12 13:25:09

I don't think it's that they're threatened by any old women-only space, you hear of the odd occasional cry of sexism over women-only swimming sessions but you don't hear about women-only swimming sessions being the root of an evil feminist conspiracy to destroy all men.

It's women led organisations, and women's spaces which are powerful and listened to and effective in what they do.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Tue 20-Mar-12 13:28:29

also, lol @ doulas for men.

mumwithdice Tue 20-Mar-12 13:31:47

Doulas for men? Really?!

Some men aren't threatened at all. Not to be all "my Nigel", but I wouldn't be involved in one group that means a lot to me if DH hadn't encouraged me to go and now he frequently tells me how happy he is that I have this space to go to.

Do you think that the men who aren't threatened might be the ones who do see women as people? Just continuously musing.

OP’s posts: |
WilsonFrickett Tue 20-Mar-12 14:12:17

Doulas for men???? Brilliant! Male ones, presumably, so they can, y'know, assert their essential male-ness in the female dominated space of childbirth? Which is where you came in, OP grin rapidly followed by [head desk]

SweetTheSting Tue 20-Mar-12 14:18:10

Welcome to FWR!

I think men (and women) 'judge' that women are more dominant than they are in a mixed discussion also. Someone posted something on here recently (but can't find it on a quick search) which was a survey of some group discussions in an academic session and both men and women thought women spoke more than 50% when in fact women had spoken less than half the time.

<floundering a bit here, if anyone knows what I'm on about, please post the link>

Anyway... my point is, it's more common for men to dominant the majority of any discussion such that it's noticeable if women 'take up' even a significant minority of the time - maybe that explains some of the (over)sensitivity in that men (and women) do not see that a typical discussion is inherently biased towards men.

(It may well be the case that similar is true of other groups of 'mixed' privilege)

Lio Tue 20-Mar-12 14:26:47

Thanks for that link, Dworkin, loved it.

Beachcomber Tue 20-Mar-12 14:47:08

SweetTheSting, there was a woman lecturer who did an experiment in her class - she only let the men speak/ask questions for the time that women generally speak for in these situations.

The men were putting their hands up to speak but she ignored them in favour of women. It was done to highlight how uneven these things are - the men hated it and got really angry. Sorry I don't remember the details any more than that! Someone will be along later with better info no doubt soon - I first read about it on here.

I think another reason that some men feel threatened by women's spaces is because they think we are hatching world domination. You know those deluded sorts who think because women want not to be oppressed, that that means we want to oppress men.

I think this is in part because they are unable to conceive of a society without a binary gender hierarchy. They are not able to frame things other than in a submission/domination dynamic. Which is pretty fucked up thinking.

sportsfanatic Tue 20-Mar-12 14:58:19

A variation on this can be seen on places like the BBC message boards where there are Colonel Blimps complaining that the BBC has been feminised with women taking most of the top jobs.. in fact of course that isn't true at all. Men still take the majority of the top jobs at the BBC.

SweetTheSting Tue 20-Mar-12 15:01:34

Thanks, Beachcomber, we are thinking of the same thing, I'm sure. smile

slug Tue 20-Mar-12 15:14:02

Hi Beachcomber That is Dale Spender's party trick. I've witnessed it in action and is quite funny watching the toddleresque tantrums that the men resort to.

blackcurrants Tue 20-Mar-12 15:16:14

There's this study "Women and Men in the Classroom" - a Harvard study from a few years ago. Well worth a read.

I bring it up in every class I teach as part of my opening/introductory talk about how the class works and what I expect from them. (I teach Freshers). I ask them to think about who gets the most airtime in our discussion seminars, and ask them to self-monitor to encourage everyone to be heard.

I don't think it always (often?!) works, exactly, but it's important for them to know that it happens like that. And it usually provokes good discussion!

blackcurrants Tue 20-Mar-12 15:16:31

Oh, didn't put in the link! here it is

Beachcomber Tue 20-Mar-12 15:20:06

Thanks everybody. I knew we would get the answer within minutes SweetTheSting!

I would love to see it in action it must be funny (although probably a bit depressing too...).

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in