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Out-with-the-women spaces

I’m a little slow on the uptake, but last week Jenny Diski‘s blog on the London Review of Books site was about all-male spaces and men’s defence of them.

She talks about the 60s and 70s, but I think the post is overly optimistic about the idea that young women nowadays will not be familiar with the sort of experience she encountered, being chastised by a male boss for having dared to attend a party in an ‘men only’ space.

I remember a similar experience about ten years ago when I was all but chased out of a room in a social club by the one single man occupying it (backed up by the barman) for neglecting to notice the ‘no women’ sign. I was about 14 at the time and barely even realised that such signs existed, let alone that they were taken seriously! There was a family function in a hired-out room elsewhere in the club, but my younger brother had wanted to play snooker, and so we had gone to where the snooker table was (I’m quite a bit older than him and so was ‘minding’ as much as playing). I actually had to leave my younger brother there (try convincing a seven-year-old to leave the snooker table he has just discovered!) and run off to find my father.

I do wonder whether now, 10 years later, the same thing would happen. The man must have been in his late-50s or early-60s, so of an age where he could easily have been the boss that Diski describes. Perhaps she’s right, and this will eventually completely die out….

I also wonder whether, had I been the same age as my brother (i.e. without noticeable breasts), we would have been allowed to entertain ourselves with the snooker table together.

Aside: The title of Diski’s blog reminds me of this film, which I really want to watch – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. It has been on my LoveFilm queue for over a year now, but naturally they don’t yet have it. They probably never will because they’re a bit half-arsed (especially compared to the service Netflix has been offering its US customers for years). In which case, I may be forced to buy it, or just buy the David Foster Wallace short story collection!