Gentlemen’s clubs – men’s clubs, as they are called in the US to set them apart from exotic dancing establishments – were all the rage in the 18th century. These private social establishments reserved for the males in the English upper-middle-class, had a strict “men only” policy, so much so that women didn’t even have the right to enter their premises. Today, it seems, the tables have turned. There is an ever-increasing number of women-only establishments and events created with the intention of offering a safe space for women of all ages to be themselves. Here are a few of them that stand out today.
Uplift Studios was among the first women-only gyms in the US – and as such, it has attracted a lot of interest from the media. Aside from having a clear preference for female members, it offers workout programs invented with women in mind, including a “bridal workshop” for the brides willing to lose a few pounds ahead of their wedding day. The vast majority of the reviews that emerged shortly after the opening of the fitness club were positive – the premises and the amenities were standard, they wrote, but the staff was friendly and genuinely helpful – and most importantly, that there were no “bros” checking the patrons out while they work out.
The emergence of the #metoo movement and the ongoing need for women to have a place to call their own have probably determined entrepreneur Kristina Roth, former CEO and owner of the consulting company Matisia Consultants in Washington, to invent the women-only holidays at the SuperShe island resort. Set on the island of Fjärdskär in the Gulf of Finland, the resort offers activities ranging from yoga to kayaking and programs like motivational speaking and various roundtables for its patrons – the only condition is for them to be women.
While a holiday on the SuperShe island is not for any pocket – it costs around 4000 euros for a week – it demonstrates that there is indeed a need for such retreats.
Bråvalla Festival, one of Sweden’s most popular music events, was closed down in 2013 due to a large number of sexual assaults plaguing the experience of many female visitors. As a response, comedian Emma Margareta Knyckare came up with the idea of a music festival where men (‘cis men’, as the organizers refer to them) are not allowed outside the backstage areas and the stages. The idea was transformed into reality thanks to the numerous Kickstarted donors, the Swedish government that subsidized part of the expenses, and Emma Knyckare’s work.
The first edition of the festival opened its gates in August 2018, in Gothenburg, for “women, non-binary and transgender” attendees only. This year, the event has gone on tour, with editions at Gothenburg, Stockholm, Malmö, and Umeå.