There were two students who wanted some time to use gym, but didn’t want to use the student gym with men.

People on treadmills.
(Source: CBC)

The idea came from Soumia Allalou, 23, who contacted the university’s gym to ask when the women-only hours were.

She was surprised to find that there was no such thing.

“I feel like there are many women who have a variety of reasons for preferring to work out in a women-only environment. Whether it’s how comfortable they are, whether they have had bad experiences at the gym in the past, whether they have less access to the machines. A lot of women tell me they feel intimidated in the weights section,” said Allalou, who wears a hair covering and cites religious reasons for her preference.

This idea has caused some division:

Proponents for the idea say it would help women feel more comfortable in the gym, but critics say those women should toughen up, and that the idea is sexist towards men.

Our society often excuses the way men treat women as natural or normal and not worth making a bid deal over. This makes proposals for women-only gyms very appealing for women who don’t want to deal with those behaviours our society wants to excuse. I think it’s amusing to call it sexist to accommodate women who don’t want to associate with men who are harassing them. Even if they don’t know it, and aren’t trying to be sexist. Even good guys can do this.

But, ultimately, segregation is not something we should be supporting as goal. That is the decision the gym made:

“We don’t believe in the segregation of our services, we don’t believe in separating some groups from others on campus,” Dyens said .

“It’s always been clear, McGill is secular and co-ed, and this is what we promote.”

In theory, there are other options. I don’t think there is anything wrong with providing a small room for women-only workout if it’s possible at your facility. Showing compassion for others is a good thing, especially if it helps them stay healthy. But shutting down parts of the gym and inconveniencing everyone else is not an ideal solution. I don’t bother anyone at the gym. I’m there to get a job done. If this plan had gone through I would be punished.

Ideally, we could make a welcoming environment for everyone. I am ultimately pleased that we have decided not to segregate. I wish money was no object and we could make a secondary room for women who choose to use it. Now, the only option they have is to choose not to use the gym.

From My Secret Atheist Blog.


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