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Election Issue: Gender Clubs

At the March 2 informational meeting, plans and costs related to moving the Ladies Lounge were disclosed. In asking whether it wasn't time to do away with gender-segragated clubs in our community, I was told that this might be a good "election issue".

Combining the gender clubs need not be an election issue. In my opinion, new signs is all it would take to once and for all establish a “Community Lounge” and a “Adults Club” (and perhaps a “Book-Exchange/Reading Room”, if the former Ladies’ Lounge could be repurposed for this). I am sure that gender-specific activities can be accommodated if and when needed.

Doing this would instantly give shareholders a common club, would not displace members of the existing clubs, and would not subject our community to the time delay of planning or the costs of outfitting and maintaining a new club.

Not surprisingly, this idea is generating resistance among a small handfull of Men's Club and Ladies' Lounge members — although many people in the community want to weigh in on this question, these people object to the community being polled as to the desirability of separate clubs.

The Men’s Club

I don't know who supports the idea of a men's club. A very informal survey on SPComm in 2004 showed that 80% of 35 respondents disagreed with the idea of having such a club. Even candidates that year agreed it was absurd. Somehow those candidates got turned around once they were elected, and nothing was ever done. The room is huge, with a kitchenette and bathroom. It is hardly used, and many, if not most of those who use it, are not SPC shareholders.

The Ladies’ Lounge

The year after that survey took place, some member of our community capitalized on the irony of having such a club – they petitioned and established the Ladies Lounge. Under pressure to conduct a survey within our community as to whether such a club was really desired, a survey was produced... that failed to ask this basic question (see the story from 2004 here)! My understanding is that the Ladies Lounge is a more robust club than the men’s club, and the club’s members have dug in to the right to keep, relocate and renovate their club.

Opportunity Cost

I won't get into a discussion of how absurd it is to have gender-based clubs. But I will point out that rooms reserved for such uses deprive our neighbors of normal social contact. All activities, including yoga classes, reading group, and even gender-specific meetings could be scheduled in shared spaces or in the new community rooms.

In my considered opinion, space allocated to gender-based clubs should be immediately converted to general Shareholder Lounges. Perhaps one can become an Shareholder's Lounge and another a Book Exchange/Reading Room. In any case, if there is genuine broad support of the club, rather than listen to the advocacy of a handful of Men's Club and Ladies’ Lounge members, why don’t we conduct a formal survey in our community, once and for all?