Women’s-Only Groups: Are They Archaic?

women's-only no-men sign

As we move into the most divisive era in modern times I find myself wondering: Aren’t women’s-only groups kinda retro? Even archaic?

It’s 2017. Yes, I know who’s in the White House. Forget that for a moment. No wait, don’t. Keep it in the forefront of your mind as you read this. Women are graduating from colleges and universities in greater numbers than men; more women are the main breadwinners in their household than ever before; the fact that a woman came a hair’s-breadth from entering the White House is still a far greater coup for women than the doomsayers, misogynists, and chronically-neurotic victim feminists would have you believe.

Yes, we’ve got a self-admitted sexual predator in the White House. For once, ladies, we can’t entirely blame the boyz for this one. Women supported Trump by 42%; I don’t care that 54% didn’t – 42% is still far too high. (The other 4% were too busy defending Kim Khardashian’s robbery claims on Twitter to pay attention.) It wasn’t just uneducated working poor women who supported him either; plenty of college-educated women are also to blame.

And people wonder why I’ve begun holding women more accountable (or ‘blaming the victim’ in victim feminist parlance) for tolerating bad male behaviour.

I don’t think the answer is to separate from the other half of the human race. Women have been fighting male-only enclaves for decades now; critics have pointed out, quite rightly, that women’s-only gal-caves are nevertheless still considered acceptable.

I’ve belonged to plenty of women’s-only groups and discussion forums in the past, but I find myself less inclined with each passing day. Last year I joined a women’s-only Meetup group for freelancers and entrepreneurs, not because it disallowed men but because it was the only meetup in my area for such a thing (and without charging an outrageous fee like many meetups are doing, including most Toronto-area business groups).

While it’s a great bunch of ladies with interesting ideas, I can’t help but feel it’s only half the story. Why is it only for women? Why are we blowing off half the entrepreneurs in the city, many of whom will also have some great ideas, experience, advice, networking, and help to offer?

Is it because some women still lack the confidence to hold their own with a gender not unfairly charged with dominating conversation, shutting women out or patronizing them in subtle or not-so-subtle ways?

Some men are guilty of that. Others aren’t. Maybe we need to challenge ourselves more. Slay that mansplaining dragon, St. Georgina!

I admire the fact that men are more aggressive, more risk-taking, more confident, and more willing to state their case than women have historically been. Such virtues in the extreme become faults, but that’s true for any virtue. There are still some ‘male values’ worth acquiring.

I admire the fact that women are more easily able to express their emotions, communicate better, are more sensitive to other’s feelings and are more open to compromise than men historically have been. Also virtues that, in the extreme, don’t serve anyone well either. Men have much to learn from us, too.

You can argue I’m overgeneralizing but so are women who still prefer women’s-only groups.

As the gender gap divides further with a ‘Million Women March’ to demonstrate that some of those you-know-whats are armed, Mr. President, and bitter and angry ‘Men’s Rights Activists’ on the other side, I find myself thinking we need to connect more, not less, with men. Before more of the craziness sends good, rational, level-headed men into the arms of nutty extremist groups. And because some women still need to reject the victim feminist thinking of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It’s served its purpose; as women gain more financial, educational and political power, they need to put on their big-girl pants and move on.

If the world still looks dark and threatening to women, it’s because of negativity bias and everyone falls prey to it. It’s wired into our brains, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We can recognize it for what it is, name it, and focus more on what’s right in the world, and how to improve upon it.

Yes, victimizing still exists but we don’t need to give the victimizers so much power. We can still Just Say No to much of it. Just ask Madonna! (Not safe for work!)

I for one, ladies, think the Mahnolo Blahnik is now on the other foot, and that we’ve got to stop demonizing men. It’s part of the reason why Trump performed so well with male voters, and not just the rednecks. Our President may think women are only valuable for their you-know-whats but my Prime Minister is a self-described feminist.

Some of us are finding it harder and harder to wear the victim label when we’re doing better in life than many men around us.

With power comes responsibility. And that means accepting and working with men the way we’ve been urging them to do with us for fifty years now.

What do you think? Are there still valid reasons for women’s-only groups?

 

Nicole Chardenet is an American/Canadian dual citizen, freelance writer and machine language translation software flogger who knows that two steps forward and one step back is still progress. She hangs with a bunch of guys as well as chicks from her artist’s hovel in the sky in Toronto. She owns a gender binary female-named cat who used to be a guy until that fateful trip to the vet, although in her defense she didn’t do it out of hostility to his maleness, but to save her furniture from chronic malodour. (Also it would make his permanent virginity easier to live with. For him.) Outraged un-neutered males and anyone interested in her writing services can reach her at:

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