Women-only space

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A women-only space is a physical area where only women are allowed. The notion of a women-only space is to provide a place where women do not interact with men.

Because the point of the space is to provide a "men-free" environment, there is discussion in some circles about whether trans women should be allowed into such spaces, both from an ethical and from a legal perspective.[1][2][3] In some cases questions have been raised about the value and legitimacy of particular spaces being reserved for women.[4]

These spaces are sometimes referred to as "safe space." The goal is to provide women an area to work, free of male judgement or harassment.[5]

The concept is a form of sex segregation, and practices such as women-only public toilets, women-only passenger cars on public transport or women's parking spaces may be described using both terms.[6]

Historically and globally, many cultures had some form of female seclusion.


  • A ladies' ordinary was a women-only dining space which started to appear in North American hotels and restaurants in the early 19th century, when it was socially unacceptable for women to dine in public without a male escort. [7]

Examples of women-only spaces[edit]

Some of these allow men at certain times of the day, week, or year, for example as guests. Other establishments allow men and women into physically separate areas. Others exist only temporarily, renting space for a few hours or days. Some of these allow children, either only girls or both sexes.


  • Menstrual taboos can require a woman to segregate herself from her community, for example the chhaupadi (menstrual huts) of Nepal today, or The Red Tent, a fictionalised version of Old Testament-era customs

Land and shelter[edit]

Places to wash[edit]

Public nudity is in many cultures restricted to single-sex groups. So public baths may separate men and women by time or by space.




Historically, some health care services for women (particularly around childbirth) were staffed by women. As women gained increased access to education in the late nineteenth century, hospitals hired female physicians for female patients; nurses by this point were almost exclusively female.

Businesses and services[edit]

Lesbian services[edit]

Military and policing[edit]

Cultural events[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Julia Serano. "On the Outside Looking In". Retrieved 2013-01-08. 
  2. ^ Julian Norman (22 May 2012). "Legalities of excluding trans women from women only spaces". Retrieved 2013-01-08. 
  3. ^ Murphy, Mary (2014). "FEMINIST SPIRITUALITY AND GENDER Lessons From Beyond Women-Only Space". Communities. 162: 38–72. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Julia Long (2012-12-07). "So I'm a feminist troublemaker for requesting some women-only space?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-08. 
  5. ^ "Gale - Enter Product Login". go.galegroup.com. Retrieved 2016-10-24. 
  6. ^ Browne, Kath (Sep 2004). "Genderism and the Bathroom Problem: (re)materialising sexed sites, (re)creating sexed bodies.". Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. 11 (3): 331–346. doi:10.1080/0966369042000258668. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Freedman, Paul (2014-09-01). "Women and Restaurants in the Nineteenth-Century United States". Journal of Social History. 48 (1): 1–19. ISSN 0022-4529. doi:10.1093/jsh/shu042. 
  8. ^ "Because They’re Worth It! Making Room for Female Students and Thealogy in Higher Education Contexts" (PDF). fth.sagepub.com. Retrieved 2016-10-24. 

External links[edit]