5 Feb 2017

Return Of Women-Only Offices Proves That Equality Has Gone Into Reverse

By Martin Daubney: Back in the gender-segregated 1950s, huge armies of women merrily worked in female-only typing pools or garment factories. Men, meanwhile, toiled in coal mines or steel plants, rarely frequented by women, then supped warm beer in working men’s clubs or men-only tap rooms. But then came the Women’s Liberation movement, and these shackles were cast off.
Workplaces were increasingly integrated, and a gender war was declared on men-only spaces. Now, few are left standing.
Sports organisations like the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew’s have driven their men-only membership policies into the long grass of history. “Outmoded” gent’s clubs like the Garrick are under constant pressure to admit women.
So it seems utterly contradictory that the latest trend – inherited, of course from liberal America – is for “women-only office blocks“.
What’s even more bizarre is that the very same media outlets condemning the men-only spaces are heralding this as a some sort of victory.
A Liverpool-based “positive action programme” by The Women’s Organisation that actively bans men from shared office space was fawned over in the media this week.
OK, it’s not a total ban: we are allowed to make up a capped 20% of the workforce.

Although a 100% woman-only would not be not illegal, although, as the Women’s Organisation’s Hellen Milne was quick to point out, “This is not about segregation”.
Of course! For only in the liberal West’s 2017 could excluding 49% of humanity be lauded as somehow inclusive.
On Sky News, I locked horns with the organisation’s CEO Maggie Carroll. When I stated I thought this was a backwards move for inclusivity, it went down like a full English at a vegan convention.
When I said I wouldn’t want to work in an office that bans 80% of anybody – men, women, blacks, gays, whomever – and wanted more diversity in workplaces, not less, I was told I’d “missed the point”.
To be clear, I don’t want these spaces banned. I think single-sex spaces have a valid place in society.
What rankles is the total lack of consistency.
Back in 2014 the same news outlets that are currently celebrating Liverpool’s women-only office block were baying for the blood of Liverpool’s Barber Barber, when proprietor Johnny Shanahan refused to cut women’s hair, arguing that his staff weren’t trained to do so.
Local councillor Nick Small claimed this was “clearly against the Equalities Act” when the truth is there is no law against single-sex clubs or gatherings written into UK law.
This nontroversy, whipped up by the Liverpool Echo, provoked vandalism of Barber Barber’s premises and even death threats against Shanahan. He stood true, and the furore was the best free advert for his business.
Men now queue around the block from 8am, both for a trim and the comfort-blanket of a men’s club free of the liberal bores who waste their lives submitting change.org petitions.
In October, the same newspaper that called for the closure of Barber Barber published puff piece on Nourish, a new women-only lifestyle club, which they called “a place where women can escape”.
The message is clear: places where men gather are dens of misogyny, old boys’ clubs to be mistrusted and closed down. Yet places where women gather should be celebrated and expanded.
Women-only offices are a straight-up business USP to draw women into professional safe spaces, where they pay a monthly subscription to network free from the spectre of interfering men. It’s canny business, and on that basis I wish the Women’s Organisation luck.
But let’s be honest here: this is naked capitalism dressed up as feminism. You can’t actively exclude 49% of humanity and preach a mantra of equality: the two are mutually exclusive.
Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly clear that in 2017 “diversity” doesn’t really mean diversity. It means “more people like us”.
Specifically, it means “more people who think like us”. It’ll be a cold day in Hades before we hear HR managers calling for more conservatives, Brexit-voters or Trump sympathisers in workplaces.
And, most perniciously of all, “diversity” increasingly means “no men allowed”.


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