My thoughts on women-only spaces (inclusive of transgender and women-identifying women) in the wake of a man planning to attend the Wonder Woman, women-only screening in NY
Firstly, I do what I can to contribute to equality in society, that is: equality for everybody, age race, religion, gender/gender-identifying and sexual orientation in the programs and courses I write, the work I do and when I teach.
In my decades of adulthood, the greater my experience grows, I see that it in no way exists in the majority, let alone in entirety. I see racism daily, I see misogyny daily and I know all forms of discrimination exist, despite legislation.
I’ve been reading comments online from people focusing on equality in relation to a man intending to attend a women only event and they worried me, a lot. Having a women-only screening of a movie is to me a clever, probably lucrative marketing tactic and their reasoning is fun, but a women-only screening of a movie for me is not about equality (nor does it harm it: they could have a man/ man-identifying only screening as well, if there was a market for it). A women-only screening of a movie for me creates a (literally) safe space that also acknowledges power-imbalance in society: approximately two women are murdered every week in Australia through Family/ Domestic Violence. The statistics average one woman murdered per week worldwide due to Family/ Domestic Violence. One in three women worldwide experience Family/ Domestic Violence (that we know about, statistically). The statistics for Family/ Domestic Violence and rape are not equal for men, nor is the power balance equal. That is not to say that it matters less when any gender experiences violence: all forms of abuse against anyone is abhorrent and wrong, equally. To put my perspective in context, I work with people of all genders who have recently experienced a form of violence, including teenagers. There would be many women grateful for a space where they can feel safer for a short while and why not allow people to occasionally be in a space that provides a sense of freedom and safety? Avoiding people based on the gender of the person who abused them is not necessarily helpful overall or long-term, but an occasional moment in what might feel like a safer space can allow for people to remember themselves as they were, or to relax and gain a sense of how things could be. All people can potentially benefit from moments of coming together in groups with others who are different as well as having moments where they are in groups with others who are similar.
This is not about feminism: feminism is about working for equality, which no study in Western society has ever shown we have achieved yet, although we are improving in some areas. Women/ women-identifying-only screening of a movie is unrelated to equality: men/ men-identifying people are not prevented from seeing the movie overall, just one screening. If they were prevented from ever attending a screening of this movie, then it would be about equality.
I would choose to attend a women/ women-identifying-only screening of a movie, especially a movie about a woman fighting for justice because I would be delighted to be in a space where I could relax and process the movie in a way that never happens otherwise: I am very aware of safety, statistics and risk. There was a study done asking people to identify what precautions/ planning they took for safety when going out: the list for men amounted to a couple of items, but for women, every single day amounted to an enormous list focusing on the risks they are aware of.
So, thank you for the women/ women-identifying (PS: for me, anybody identifying as a woman, is a woman)-only screening of Wonder Woman and thank you for the debate, because when an argument is put forward with only one flawed reason to support it, as in this case, maybe it is time to extend perspectives and look at it differently. This man claiming to be entitled to attend a women-only screening of a movie and that his sense of entitlement is greater than the implications of his actions for others, especially those that are more vulnerable and less powerful than him is ignorant at best. At least one in three of the women attending are likely to have experienced intimate partner violence and considering that a women-only screening might appeal to a woman who had experienced abuse, which can have lasting effects, it is more likely to be a higher statistic. I want equality, I want to share spaces and experiences with men, but I also love it when I am in a group of just women and the men I know sometimes get together in groups of just men. If someone wants to contribute to equality, there are many better ways and regardless, this is not one.