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You can’t have it both ways: The sexist hypocrisy of women’s only gym hours

Last week we saw in the news that McGill University in Montreal was debating the issue of whether to have women’s- only gym hours, after a female law student approached the campus gym stating she would ‘personally prefer to work out in a women only gym’. It’s looking like the proposal will go to a vote, after there has been a massive backlash of arguments and petitions stating that there is no need for certain hours of the gym’s opening time to be reserved only for women.

Is this proposal sexist? Or is it merely feminists demanding what is their right? I would argue the former. In the age of such pressure for “gender equality”, surely this is a double standard, indulging in positive discrimination because of the fear of a University doing something not deemed as “Politically Correct”.

The idea that women are so vulnerable as to need to be secluded from men to work out should be something many men find offensive – I would. The implication here is that men are either out to watch women in the gym, or intimidate them. Not that men actually go to the gym to, you know, work out or anything. I’m sure that there are women who would ‘prefer’ to work out without men in a gym. Some women may feel ‘intimidated’ by the males there, as one McGill student stated. But are we assuming that no men ever feel intimidated when working out? First time male gym-goers are undoubtedly also discouraged by the regular work out ‘lads’ in the weights section of the gym, or even by the judging eye of females. Surely to create true equality, then women-only hours would need to be mirrored by men-only gym hours. But, no, surely that would be considered sexist.  

But McGill isn’t the only University having such debates. In the UK, more and more Universities are taking the turn to having women-only swimming pool and gym sessions. Cardiff University’s Student Union pride themselves on having successfully petitioned for this, while the University of Windsor’s fitness centre has 4 hours a week dedicated to being women-only. Should we be shocked by this? Am I the only one thinking that with the ongoing challenges of feminism and equality between the genders, this is just becoming hypocritical? And as this regression into separating men and women becomes acceptable, how far will it go? Women’s only library hours (of which rumours have been circulating from a university feminist society), women’s only club nights – after all, who wants intimidating, leering men chasing after you when you’re on a night out?

Can’t women individually make a choice of when and where they want to work out? And if you genuinely feel that men are such intimidating, staring, untameable creatures, then maybe you just shouldn’t attend a public gym at all.

Am I wrong? We’d love to hear your opinions! Share your thoughts below, on our Facebook page – Her Campus Nottingham or tweet us @HCNottingham.


Edited by Mackenzie Orrock






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Kate Kilby


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