Business & Information Technology

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:

Nicole's contact info

From Booth Babes to LinkedIn Lovelies

Enjoy the view, ladies. This is probably the only time you’ll find me posting a business-inappropriate photo on LinkedIn. You enjoy it too, boys!

(I could have selected a photo waaaaay way worse than this one, you know. A photo so hypermasculine it would have made a Marine sergeant blush. But I didn’t. You’re welcome. Or, sorry!)

From what I’ve read, men actually objectify men as much as they objectify women. This explains rather a lot about ’80s action films, in which mostly dudes went to see movies featuring sweaty, oily, muscular, badass brutes like Stallone and Schwarzenegger and Van Damme, with barely a female in sight – barely or otherwise. Bromance, indeed. Brorgy, anyone?

And on LinkedIn, more men than women seem to appreciate the photos people keep posting of beautiful, often scantily-clad women, although I’ve noticed a fair amount of men complaining about it as well.

What I notice more recently is that women are posting sexy female photos too – sometimes of themselves.

There’s no quicker way to start a flame war on LinkedIn than with a photo of a good-looking gal, if she shows enough skin. Except maybe to say anything, however neutral or non-partisan, about Tr–p or Cl—-n.

“This doesn’t belong on LinkedIn!” the battle cry goes. “It objectifies women!” “No, it’s empowering!” “Women have to fight hard enough to be taken seriously!” “I’m a woman and I approve of beautiful women.”

I wrote about this earlier in Keep Your Clothes On, LinkedIn! I was against posting provocative pictures. Now I confess that I’m beginning to question my position as LinkedIn grows and I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with not only focusing so much on how people look, but why we can’t all learn to just get along and try not to stare too much if a lady’s cleavage is showing (or your colleague’s bulging pecs) without feeding the lawyers or at least driving the HR manager into an early retirement.

It’s interesting, at least, that women seem to be posting these salacious snapshots as well. Et tu, Brenda?

Or maybe should we begin recognizing that sometimes a lack of clothes is business-related?

Why do women’s bodies provoke so many strong feelings? Why do we go as ballistic over a burkha as we do over a bikini?

Would men appreciate it if they had to log on to LinkedIn every morning and be confronted with a muscular man’s impressive package (the kind you can’t get from FedEx)? Who would complain more, women or men?

Part of me agrees that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook and there are a lot of posts I’d like to see go away – political and stupid non-business-related memes, especially badly spelled – but even there it gets fuzzy. Politics and elections affect business, but I also see a lot of non-business-related posts I love – my LinkedIn friend Mansour Rad has posted some lovely photos of Iran and Persian artwork that I often save to my hard drive because they’re so beautiful.

In the olden days, before the rise of the Internet, technology trade shows often featured ‘booth babes’ – scantily-clad hotties – to compete for the attention of the largely male attendees and draw them to the booths.

Photo courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin on Flickr

In the mid-’90s no one complained too much, but as of a few years ago I heard gripes about the few remaining booth babes. Today, we’ve got the LinkedIn Lovelies to raise a firestorm (and they will fan the flaming fuel for years, long after the next contentious President is elected).

The remnants of my old-school feminist wants to scream, “This doesn’t belong on LinkedIn!” while my French bloodline cries, “Vive la difference!”

The businesswoman in me whispers, “Nearly-naked breasts are inappropriate in a business setting,” but then she adds, “And who will be posting bikini blow-ups if she ever finds herself working for a swimsuit company?”

I do understand the confusion sown when the lines are blurred with sexy selfies and gorgeous graphics, but I also wonder if, as we move deeper into the 21st century, we can learn to look beyond the externalities, however clad, to the human beings within. Because don’t, in the end, we all objectify everyone? The person who cut you off (a jerk!), the attractive woman who draws the male gaze (wanton wench!), the manager who snapped at you (he’s an a-hole), the woman who bumped you on the street and brusquely told you to “Watch where you’re going!” (b—h!) Are these not people with problems like we all have, with insecurities we all have, who are trying to put food on the table as we all do, who live lives you don’t even think about because they’re not people to you, just annoying objects?

Remember the old ’90s movie Starship Troopers, set in the future where men and women were truly equals in the military, and even showered together with all the professionalism of a board meeting?

Do you think that can ever happen some day?

I am genuinely confused.


Nicole Chardenet is a freelance writer who doesn’t intend to set the women’s movement back fifty years, but does think we should all maybe calm down a bit. She’s never been a booth babe but she does appreciate beauty in all its forms. You can reach her at

A Babel of Asian eCommerce


Photo by Roberto Faccenda on Flickr

Japanese may be one of the easier Asian eCommerce languages to translate – it has a considerably less challenging alphabet although there are five different writing systems to deal with – but it still poses its translation challenges. Any Asian language will, and not just because of the vastly different alphabet, more so even than European languages with unfamiliar letters or largely different alphabets.

And don’t argue!

If you’ve ever wondered why Chinese dominates the hilarious world of bad foreign translation websites and memes, it’s because Chineseis one of the most challenging languages for anyone to translate in either direction. It’s not just that the West’s languages are largely alphabetic and Asian languages like Chinese are pictographic with sometimes thousands of characters; the whole structure of cultural and historical reference, communication and thought is completely different.

Palace of explosive loin bad menu translation

Photo by lawtonjm on Flickr

Arabic is no walk in the park either, with its different alphabet, its lack of vowels in writing, unfamiliar sounds, and starting a text at what Westerners would call ‘the end’.

No appetizer for me, please…

But hey, guess where nearly a trillion and a half American dollars can come from in the eCommerce world. If you guessed “All the places where the language is least like English”, please join me in a Hai Five!

Asia’s eCommerce potential isn’t just because they’re so populous, but also because many of the countries are just beginning to get online, or adopt mobile, or are losing their wariness of eCommerce marketplaces and payment systems. You can catch the early- to mid-adopters before the waves crest.

Read more here…


This post originally appeared on the Yappn blog Yappn About.