Letter: Segregation in Campus Rec

To the Editor:

On March 8, Campus Rec barred all men from the gym for evening programming that was restricted to women.

The explanation that some women are not comfortable at the gym when men are present is sexist, hetero-normative and highly offensive. It assumes that all men at the gym are not only heterosexual, but also such licentious sex-addicts that we cannot be around women without leering and harassing them. This sort of discrimination based on sex has no place, particularly on a university campus where male and female students alike pay equally to maintain recreational facilities.

What I find more concerning is that after investigating the issue, I learned that the USC and Women’s Issues Network approached the university administration to hold this event. Having served previously as both equity commissioner and pride resources commissioner on the USC, I am disgusted that they would advocate such exclusive events.

I have tried repeatedly to bring these concerns to USC president Adam Fearnall, but despite collecting a generous salary paid by students, he apparently does not feel that he should respond to their concerns. The USC is capable of better than this. If Fearnall is not up to that job, he should resign and make room for those who are.

— Arzie Chant
Biology III

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Letter writer

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  • Julian Uzielli

    Christina, to clarify: This is not an editorial. This is a letter to the editor written by one of our readers.

  • Objective Observer

    And there you have it, folks. Alison and other misandrists come to their denial of equality of the sexes, provided that the sex we’re talking about is men. To suggest that you cannot be sexist against men is to be ignorant of the very culture we live in. A culture in which genital mutilation of boys is legal, a culture in which jokes are made about men who are sexually assaulted by women, a culture in which men face harsher sentences in the Courts.

    Sorry Alison, but you couldn’t be more wrong. And just because you and the other girls here (“women” is a term denoting more maturity than you possess) have a misandrist axe to grind with men does not make you right.

  • Alison

    Sexist? You can’t be sexist against men, because sexism is about oppression and power that men have over women. Women are entitled to a safe space where there are other women (and it’s just one night!). By the same token as a straight woman I would not expect to admitted into a space that is for gay men or other LGBTQ people or people of other marginalized identities I am not apart of, because I have privilege over them and they have a right to exclude me from their space/event, so please extend the same courtesy to women for one night on International women’s day.

  • Objective Observer

    You’ve got to love entitled women on here playing the victim while masking their sexual discrimination. Supporting sexual discrimination at the gym (what else would an intelligent person class barring one sex from a public space?) is no different than saying “I’m not comfortable around blacks! So get them out”.
    Sorry ladies, you’re on the wrong side of history and common sense.

  • Jessica

    won’t someone PLEASE think of the men?!

    i mean, why isn’t there a men’s-only night? why isn’t there a white entertainment channel? why isn’t there a straight pride parade? why isn’t there a soup kitchen for rich people? why isn’t there a hospital for healthy people?

  • Saralyn Russell

    Chris – the men were given a space in Alumni Hall to work out during that time. They were not denied the opportunity to exercise.

  • Christina

    I don’t think this women’s only fitness night was meant to be exclusive. First of all, there was programming that night that was available to male-identified individuals, if you even took two minutes to read the programming description. I think that there is, in fact, a lot of body-shaming and/or inappropriate sexual comments that women have to endure at the gym. Whether these are real or perceived, it clearly deters some women from going to the gym, and this night was meant to create a safe, non-threatening space for people who might otherwise feel uncomfortable at the gym, where many people feel exposed and vulnerable.

    I think this editorial is hateful and ignorant, not only towards the women and men who organized this event, but also those that attended it. More upsetting, however, is that your ignorant comments could be understood as being reflective of Western students, faculty and staff as a whole, when I know this not to be true. This negative, poorly researched article makes the gazette look terrible, and I am disappointed in whoever let this offensive editorial run.

  • Hayley

    Arzie, I’m going yo assume that you haven’t got a whole lot of background or history in women’s issues and women’s movements, because that makes this letter a whole lot more understandable. The reason that we need to create women’s only events and spaces has to do with a long, long, long history of women being unwelcome in the public sphere, as well as being objectified when they do venture into places like the gym. Not only are women objectified in when they move in public spaces, but they are blamed for that objectification (“Well you should wear something more covered-up”) by social norms of victim-blaming and sex-shaming that are supported by a deeply patriarchal society. Not to mention that about 1 in 3 women will face sexual violence in her lifetime (the vast majority of sexual violence survivors are women), so the above trends and behaviours have even more potential to be traumatic and triggering.

    Finally, on any other day or night, the gym, particularly the weight section, is a totally boys club. Are you really that oppressed by the gym giving women a few measly hours in which they can feel safe working out? Check your privilege, my friend.

  • Chris

    Can you imagine the outrage if a “men’s only” night was established? It’s one thing for a private gym to offer women only packages; it’s quite another for a publically funded (ie/ by the students) facility to do the same. Those men who paid for memberships should launch a class-action lawsuit. They are being denied their right to use the facilities for which they paid.