May 23, 2017

Women-only swimming times send culture wars off the deep end

Heavens to Betsy! Some women would prefer to swim in privacy without a bunch of gawking blokes around. Man the barricades, it's a culture war!

Irfan Yusuf — Lawyer, author and commentator

Irfan Yusuf

Lawyer, author and commentator

A new swimming pool in the western Sydney suburb of Lidcombe is making waves (sorry). Actually, it’s a swimming complex consisting of gym, outdoor 50-metre pool, indoor 25-metre pool, kiddies and families activity pool (with fountains and fingers crossed a wave-making machine, failing which I will boycott the place) and a programs pool whose length hasn’t been specified on the website (probably because it is on the small and shallow side).

Caroline Overington puts it like this: “a swimming pool in Auburn in Sydney’s west has put up a modesty curtain so women can swim” in a policy of deliberate “segregation … an old-fashioned idea, dead and buried many moons ago, as we all came to see each other as equals” and something “plucky Australian suffragettes and feminists, and their supporters … crushed”.

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15 thoughts on “Women-only swimming times send culture wars off the deep end

  1. mikeb

    Curious how it’s always the women “who don’t wish to be gawked at, or who feel a bit conscious about their physique.” Some might say it’s an amazing coincidence. Presumably it also helps those men who become lust crazed monsters at the site of a bare ankle let alone a mid-riff. Of course the men have to be protected from these sirens so it’s the women who are shut out.

  2. CML

    Most times I agree with your articles, Irfan…but this is just ridiculous!
    If people who come to this country want to be ‘Aussies’, hiding behind curtains in a swimming pool just doesn’t cut it.
    I’m female, and a feminist, so the whole idea of men not being able to control themselves, and expecting women to ‘help them out’, offends me profoundly.
    And why is it that only females need to be ‘modest’, while the males do as they like?????

    1. Zeke

      I’m not sure that “being Aussie” has anything at all to do with curtains or hiding beheind them. It seems that “being Aussie” is redefined every time someone brings forth this tired shibboleth.
      Why do they feel the need to curtain themselves off? Because they do. 2 hours a week is not a lot to ask for. I’m sure they’d do the same for you and your friends for a price, if it was beneficial to the community of course, and it is beneficial to get people out and into some exercise and social interaction.

      1. Charlie Chaplin

        Well said, Zeke. I have no idea what it has to do with being Australian and Australian values, either.

  3. Amark

    Oasis in Dandenong was putting a curtain up around the small activity pool in 1997 when I started working there. It was also only for a few hours a week. No one had any issues back then

  4. Damian

    Good on them. Both to the people making the effort to cater to and include another group in society and those going to the sessions (which will presumably be made harder by all the shouty people).
    If the sessions last, that’ll demonstrate the demand and some of the people will, no doubt, go to other sessions instead of or as well as these ones. And that’s great. Others won’t. And that’s great, too.
    People are entitled to want different things.
    I presume Fernwood is still going strong and there are other gyms around that cater to hard-core body-builders, others with a more cardio or family focus. Still others where flirting is the thing.
    I hear and read a lot of opinions that seem to have the underlying assumption that “people should be made to be more like me”. I am yet to be convinced, though, that the yammering cretins have the requisite knowledge to judge the rest of us in quite the way that they are.
    In my lifetime, Australia has been a bit leery of the new but when did we become so frightened of difference? (Or is it just a crucial part of a business plan, decades in the making, coming to the fore?)

    1. CML

      Typical bloody male…calling female commentators “yammering cretins”.
      You have NO IDEA what you are talking about!

      1. Damian

        I’m calling everyone who makes the assumption that “people should be made to be more like me” yammering cretins, not just females.

  5. Jeff Dixon

    What’s wrong with a bit of “women only” space? When I lived in West Berlin from the late 70ies to the late 90ies there were women’s bookshops, women’s hours at public swimming pools, women’s gyms and a few other of these useful institutions, and I used many of them. I especially cherished my women’s gym and the women’s hours in the pool, not because I was ashamed of my body (I wasn’t), but because it was really nice not feel leered at. Only a few male dunderheads had a problem with these spaces, as they were outraged to be excluded, but otherwise they were accepted. It seems to me that the hullabaloo around women’s hours in Australian public swimming pools has less to do with the fact that it’s about women but more with the fact that they are , shock horror, Muslim women.
    Angelika Kriesel

    1. Jeff Dixon

      Sorry, I sent this inadvertently from my husband’s account. Of course Jeff didn’t go swimming with women…

  6. Charlie Chaplin

    I know so many ladies who’d love to swim laps or take a water aerobics class at the local pool in Innisfail QLD, but are too self conscious about their bodies and afraid of being stared at – or worse, sniggered at- to do so. These are middle aged ladies and older. Overweight and obese ladies. And not one of them is a Muslim lady.

    1. mikeb

      It’s not the men who are staring or sniggering at them. “Overweight and obese ladies” might want to keep to themselves for various reasons, but that’s different from women who are expected to stay away from male eyes.

  7. AR

    We haven’t had one of Irfan’s obfuscatory ‘look-over-there!’ pieces lately which has been very welcome.
    He knows full well that the reason for islamic shrouding is to protect men from their uncontrollable lusts in a society where the sexes are segregated and the concept of individual liberty & responsibility is not just unknown but anathema.
    It has no place in a free society.
    When women such as Angelika above choose to be separate that is an entirely different matter – the operative word being “choose”, not coerced by insecure males.

  8. klewso

    Why do “Australian values” always seem to be more “Australian conservative values” when defined by our divisive raucous conservative media?

  9. PaulM

    With reference to another sort of culture war*, it’s also interesting to note that this activity only rates a mention in “The Australian”, the self proclaimed national daily, when it occurs in Sydney, long after it’s happened anywhere else in the nation.

    *The culture war between Sydney and the rest of the country. The “if you’re not in Sydney you’re camping out” syndrome writ large.

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