When Men- and Women-Only IS Okay

Last month I posted a blog about my irritation over a fundraising auction item for "gentlemen" to golf at an all-male golf club. I appreciated all the wonderful, thoughtful responses (even the one saying that said God didn't create men and women "equal." Did men get more of the image of God? Yes, we're different - praise the Lord - but how can we not be equal?) But I digress?.

Over this past month, I've spent time digesting these comments, praying about the issue, and thinking through some possible reasons why an all-male golf club bothers me and yet I'm great with a doctor who only sees women patients delivering my babies. The title of my post asked, "Is Men- and Women-Only Ever Okay?" Of course, it was an over-the-top question, and I absolutely think men- and women-only are often okay - with some stipulations. So I came up with some "guidelines" or rationales for when gender-only events work and when they ought to happen. Feel free to let me know where I'm off-base or what I've missed, but here are four benefits of gender-exclusive events that make them "okay":

1.Privacy. We're talking bathrooms, locker room, changing rooms, this sort of thing. Though some universities and the like have tried the unisex thing here, I don't go for that. Come on; that's just gross.

2.Safety. When I was in college, I took an all-women's self-defense class. The professor didn't allow men because she wanted women to feel safe - particularly those who took the class because of a previous attack, but also for those who wouldn't feel as comfortable mock-fending off an attacker in a class full of men. And I tell you, I appreciated this when we had to pin each other down and learn to roll out of it and run. (But I'll also tell you that we were encouraged to practice this with our trusted big guy friends, which I did. This freaks them out - on many levels.)

3.Opportunity. Whether it's to play, learn, or voice something, sometimes being among our own gender provides opportunities for growth that mixed-gender experiences just don't offer, particularly for the younger set. At least, this is the argument I hear. And it can extend beyond that - to something like this blog. It's an opportunity for women in leadership to come together, share ideas, and connect in ways that otherwise didn't exist. Women in leadership - and in many things - have different experiences than men in leadership.

May 30, 2008 at 10:56 AM

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