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Women Only Gyms: What’s all the fuss about?

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There’s nothing like the thought of a gym or swimming pool running women-only sessions (at the request of Muslim women) to get some men all worked up. Take the recent ‘controversy’ surrounding one of Harvard University’s gymnasiums. Andrew Sullivan rushes to denounce it as “shariah at Harvard’; Jihadwatch says they have submitted to Islam; and on and on it goes.

It’s hard to see what all the fuss is about.

Firstly, isn’t Harvard University a private university? The gymnasium is therefore its property. If one really believes in private property (and many people don’t) then one must also believe in the right of an owner to exercise absolute control over that property based on whatever criteria he or she may decide. If Harvard University, or the owner of any other gym or swimming pool, decides to ‘discriminate’ against men by disallowing them access during certain times of the day, then they should have every right to do so; and, likewise, if they wanted to ‘discriminate’ against people whose first names start the letter ‘P’, they should have every right to do that too.   All property owners — whether home owners or the owners of businesses — should have absolute sovereignty over their property and how it is used. This is on the proviso, of course, that they must accept the social and economic consequences of their decision (and in the case of some of the examples that might be extreme embarrassment, public humiliation and/or boycotting).

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Secondly, the decision to provide women-only sessions at a gymnasium could be viewed as a commercial decision. The gymnasium has obviously identified a market: people who have an interest in using the gymnasium but can’t because they don’t feel comfortable doing so when men are around. By creating women-only sessions a few hours a week, the gymnasium is attempting to win new customers and expand its market share. Some Muslims may benefit, but ultimately the gym is hoping that it will benefit too. In Harvard’s case, they advised the Muslim students that they would only continue to provide women only sessions if attendance was adequate. Hence, the email sent around by one of the Muslim women at Harvard that reads, in part (emphasis added):

These women’s-only hours will be in place indefinitely insha’Allah, but the coordinators will check to how usage has been to see if they can continue. I think the first check will be around Spring Break insha’Allah (3/22/08). If you can make some of these times and are interested in working out, by all means please go to the gym then! (Quad gym: 66 Garden Street)

It may also be beneficial to the university — from a marketing perspective — to be able to demonstrate it’s willingness to accommodate the needs of Muslim students. Australian universities, for example, have in recent years benefited from a rise in international student numbers from the Middle East and being able to represent their university as a “Muslim-friendly place” may be useful from a marketing and sales perspective.

So if people are just so outraged at the thought of a gymnasium setting aside a time for women, then they can opt to vote with their feet and not renew their memberships or stop attending the facility. Maybe, if there is enough of them, someone will be smart enough to open a gym that caters to that market as well.

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 8:23 PM

    Yes, there has recently been a wave of forced-secularism. The hijab bans in France and Turkey, the uproar at the idea of hours for women-only at gyms and swimming pools, etc… It seems not only is it seen as acceptable and normal to walk around naked (naked from the Islamic perspective), anyone who wishes to dress up properly or decides not to mix-freely with the opposite gender is shunned and forced out of it in one form or another.

  2. iMuslim

    March 16, 2008 at 8:37 PM

    That is so odd! Most gyms and leisure centres in the UK have women-only sessions, cos most women – Muslim or not – don’t enjoy exercising in front of guys.

    I’d like to stress this really isn’t a ‘Muslim’ issue, even though Muslim women do greatly appreciate women-only services. I attend a weekly womens-only kickboxing class on Saturdays, and there are only five Muslim women attending, out of about 25 women. The Tuesday class only has one Muslim woman attending regularly, the rest are non-Muslim.

    There is even a famous gym chain in London that has set up a very popular womens-only facility, and I doubt it caters exclusively for Muslims.

    I find this negative reaction very odd indeed. :/

  3. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 16, 2008 at 8:41 PM

    As salaamu ‘alaykum Amir,

    You are correct that it is important to point out that Harvard is a private university.

    However, it is incorrect, at least under U.S. law, to say that Harvard could therefore discriminate in any way it wishes — it absolutely could not, and I hope we as Muslims are not saying it could, discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, or disability, or even religion. (see Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, state and local ordinances).

    I don’t think the Harvard policy should be a problem, and I’ve commented elsewhere on this site that I find the reaction against it very disturbing, but we have to be careful about the statements we make. One is not free to discriminate in whatever way one wishes in property which is a public accomodation, even if it is privately owned. This was a big part of the civil rights revolution in this country.

    Allaah knows best.

  4. Amir

    March 16, 2008 at 9:14 PM

    I made the point that people should have control over their private property and how it is used. If they wish to limit access to their homes, businesses, places of worship, or anything else based on criteria that others would consider offensive and stupid, then they should be allowed to do so. At the end of the day, the profit motive is going to be a pretty strong disincentive against any form of discrimination but if people are going to limit access to their goods and services based on silly criteria then they should be allowed to do it (and be punished socially and economically for it).

  5. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 16, 2008 at 9:46 PM

    Amir, so you think the Civil Rights Act should be repealed?

    You are making the same arguments as the southern racists made in the 1960s.

    You also apparently disagree with all the lawsuits filed by CAIR and other groups advocating for the rights of Muslims not to be discriminated against.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion and many may agree with you, but for those who may not be familiar with the history and law of the United States, they should at least know that it is a position rejected by all but the most right wing for almost 50 years.

    Peace.

  6. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 16, 2008 at 9:58 PM

    Let me be clear so I’m not misunderstood. I have no problem with advocating positions that are out of the mainstream or not consonant with current American law.

    I am just saying that this particular statement, “people should be able to discriminate any way they want if they own the property” when it comes to places of public accomodation is an issue that has a history in the United States. No one should rush to agree with Amir’s stated position without understanding that history, thinking through the implications, and really knowing what they are coming out in support of.

    Allaah knows best.

  7. aoife

    March 16, 2008 at 10:00 PM

    Asalaamu alaykum,

    Its ridiculous that people have problems with this. masha’allah that women have a space to be comfortable and be themselves without having to vie as eye candy for men or having unwanted ogling. And, to be honest, I really get disgusted by seeing muscle bound (and non muscle bound) men sweating and dripping all over the equipment. Barf. I’d rather just pretend it doesn’t happen.

    What next, unisex bathrooms? Cuz the men are all sad that they can’t use all our sit down stalls??

  8. Amir

    March 16, 2008 at 10:53 PM

    I don’t support the repeal of the Civil Rights Act nor the right to discriminate in the provision of any public good or service. For example, public schools, access to government services, etc.

    However, I do believe that, in the case of private property, people should allowed to do what they wish with it. The reality, of course, is that the profit motive is going to be sufficiently strong that most people — even people who have bigoted views — are not going to refuse to accept the money of those they don’t like.

    This issue of ‘discrimination’ works both ways, of course. Muslims discriminate too. For example, I don’t know of too many Muslim schools that would hire a transvestite (even to teach secular subjects) to teach their kindergarten class? Or what about a Muslim trucking company that refuses to carry alcohol or a Muslim builder that refuses to erect a crucifix in a local chapel? Or Muslims who, for whatever reason, don’t want to carry dogs in their taxi cab? I’m sure we can all come up with lots of reasons where we might ourselves choose to ‘discriminate’ in what we do for others.

  9. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 16, 2008 at 11:15 PM

    Amir,

    It doesn’t seem much point in going back and forth on this. You do know that the Civil Rights Act covers private property, right? You remember the sit-ins at the lunch counters? Those were not government lunch counters.

    If the profit motive was some kind of panacea for everything, there would have been no need for the Civil Rights Act. Sometimes, it will be popular with one group to discriminate against another group.

    To discuss these issues in an intelligent manner and not just a “talk radio” manner requires that one be clear on definitions: what is a “public accomodation”? What do we mean by discrimination? One can discriminate on certain grounds, but not on others. My point was, in your original post, you suggest it should be legal for any private entity to discriminate on the basis of race or on the basis of disability…this is an offensive position and I think I’ve made it clear that I oppose it.

    I hope I am not coming across harshly…it is probably my own weakness in expressing myself well. As much as I love the internet, it is incredibly hard to discuss a complicated issue in any type of detail in a comments thread.

    Allaah knows best.

  10. sincethestorm

    March 16, 2008 at 11:40 PM

    “No men are allowed in the gym between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays, and between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even the staff during those times is all women.”

    I’m sorry these are peak hours and if I was a male student paying for a facility (i.e. tution), I would have a problem. As a Muslim woman who wears hijab and works out in a coed gym, I find the request ridiculuous. I can drive 40 minutes to a women’s only facility but choose not to for convenience. I choose to cover and work out closer by. I try to go when the gym is not as busy. The 6 sisters need to stop making everyone else accommodate to their religious needs when they can choose another facility or go during ‘certain’ hours. We do everything else in hijab. So why not this?

    • Tariq Mahmood

      November 11, 2009 at 10:15 PM

      Work out at home, I am sure you can do so just fine.

      I don’t even believe in Hijab but it irks me think of a Muslim woman or even a Muslim man going to such a repulsive environment.

      Work out at home people, especially women.

      Hijab and Coed Gyms do not mix, just as a born again whore prancing around in Hijab after more men then I can count have seen her naked makes no sense.

      If you want to preserve your beauty do so, if you want to insist that men are sex animals take your hate actions elsewhere.

  11. pathseeker

    March 16, 2008 at 11:47 PM

    This was handled pretty easily by a comparable school: MIT recently started a men’s only hour as well as a women’s hour, after much campaigning from their MSA.

    That way, they’re fair, and non-discriminatory. Why should muslim men have to see women in swimsuits while they swim?

  12. SaqibSaab

    March 17, 2008 at 12:06 AM

    How about the women only gym 10 mins from my house? Or Curves?

    These people need to chill out.

  13. ruth nasrullah

    March 17, 2008 at 12:19 AM

    Asalaamu alaikum. Amir, Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is absolutely right. In addition to the “whites only” lunch counters, another example that springs to mind are white Christian-only golf clubs, which alhamdulillah are a standard whose time has gone.

    Your statement “All property owners — whether home owners or the owners of businesses — should have absolute sovereignty over their property and how it is used” is in fact contrary to the Civil Rights Act and, as Abu Noor Al-Irlandee mentioned, inconsistent with the rights that organizations such as CAIR routinely support in cases such as this recent one.

  14. sincethestorm

    March 17, 2008 at 12:24 AM

    Does anyone remember the Primetime show where the owner decided to not serve the Muslim lady?

    He owns that bakery so he can choose not to serve Muslims…Folks, it goes both ways. People view this as discriminating against a majority. So, you want special accommodations, then you should be prepared for consequences. The anti-muslim groups and media has picked this up and publized this. We need to ask ourselves why?

  15. Amir

    March 17, 2008 at 2:01 AM

    The link posted by Sr Ruth above demonstrates my point. Using the law to force people to, at least outwardly, ‘accept’ you is not the only way to deal with instances of discrimination. All it took was for CAIR to make this public and the mall has moved against the security guard (and the security company would probably be compelled to act too). The reason the mall moved isn’t because it was dragged into the court and ordered to be nice to Muslims by a judge, but because it feared the social (and therefore economic) consequences of having this discrimination made public and promoted.

    Maybe the situation in America is so dire that everyone lives in fear of the Civil Rights Act and because of that alone they serve other races. If the Civil Rights Act was repealed, perhaps the signs would go up across America denying other races and religions access to shops, hotels and so on. I don’t know. But what I do know, and what the research of people such as Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker and others, demonstrates is that the market will punish companies that engage in discrimination. Now, America is obviously a unique situation because of its history and so I’m not arguing that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t or isn’t necessary but simply that, in general, these things are usually self-regulating due to the profit motive, fear of backlash from minority groups who are no longer oppressed or disenfranchised to the same extent, social pressure, etc.

    I don’t like racial or religious discrimination but I believe that social pressure is usually a far better means of getting people to do the right thing that the state dictating to people how they must use their private property. For a start, companies who hate certain groups will just find other ways of circumventing the law if they feel so strongly about the issue, such as claiming that the hijabi wasn’t hired because she lacked experience rather than stating the true (and illegal) reason. People who hate people are not going to stop hating just because the law says it’s bad to do so; they’ll just be less open about it.

    Another reason for advocating property rights-based approach to the issue is that I’ve seen how these types of laws can be used against Muslims. Perhaps, there haven’t been any cases of anti-discrimination law being used against us in the US so you guys can’t imagine how this might happen.

    However, here’s some possible examples of where one group might claim to have been discriminated against by Muslims. I’d be interested in knowing your responses to these scenarios.

    1. Let’s say there is a Muslim school and one of the teachers — a Muslim — decides that he is homosexual and becomes openly gay, even bringing his homosexual partner to school functions. Would you agree that, if the school dismissed him, he would be perfectly within his rights to sue the school to demand reinstatement? (discrimination on the basis of sexual preference)

    2. Or what about a Muslim carpenter who is the only such tradesman in a small town who is asked to repair a crucifix that is hanging in the local church? Would the Church have a right to sue him if he told them that it was against his values to produce such an item? (discrimination on the basis of religion)

    3. Or a Muslim taxi cab owner who, on the basis of a religious opinion he holds about shaytan being the third when he is alone with a woman, decides that he’d rather not transport single women around. He’s happy to take groups, but not singles. Would a single woman refused carriage in his vehicle have the right to sue for discrimination on the basis of her gender? (discrimination on the basis of gender)

  16. Flanstein

    March 17, 2008 at 7:39 AM

    “in the case of private property, people should allowed to do what they wish with it.”

    If Harvard decided to ban Muslims completely, would you be OK with that?

  17. sarsoora

    March 17, 2008 at 8:32 AM

    “I’m sorry these are peak hours and if I was a male student paying for a facility (i.e. tution), I would have a problem. ”

    Well, if I was a female student paying for a facility (ie. tuition) why should I always have to accomodate for others? Why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to use it during peak hours. Sure I can jog on a treadmill in Hijab and a huge Tshirt and sweats, but what about swimming…. Guess I should go pick up one of those “halal” scuba bathing suit thingies.
    Again this is not a Muslim-only issue. There are Jewish womens only hours for everything. Why is it such a big deal when Muslim women merely PARTICIPATE in or PUBLICIZE womens only hours or events.
    I think it is about time Muslims work together and get other groups to accomodate us for once. There are too many of us to still be tip toeing around all these issues. We are always in fear of public uproar that we get regardless! We need to tell eveyone what we want and need and do our best to get it.

  18. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 17, 2008 at 10:02 AM

    Amir,

    I think you have a good point in there somewhere in your argument but I am not sure what your actual position on the legal issue is. The historical reality is that, before the Civil Rights Act there was rampant racial discrimination in this country. The “market” did not end it. Now, definitely it was not only laws that ended it but also social views that were changed as a result of a movement that used a variety of methods, some legal, many not, to change the culture.

    Similarly, with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) — the law works hand in hand with social forces to try to make discrimination against the disabled less of a reality in the country.

    You are right that most times the law will not have to be used because most businesses will not be bigoted. For those that are, they will do the right thing because of the law without being forced into court.

    So, as much as I agree that the social forces are perhaps more important than the legal ones, it is vital that the legal ones are there as well.

    As to your questions about Muslims being allowed to discriminate — there is also a constitutional right to free exercise of religion. In fact, this is also a part of the analysis of the original case since the University’s stated goal was not simply to meet some market need, but rather was to accomodate the sisters’ religious beliefs. So, there is a legal framework for analyzing the questions that you raise and it does not rely on some kind of supremacy for property rights.

    Allaah knows best.

    • OboeLife

      August 1, 2015 at 3:18 AM

      I am coming to believe that we should have a segregated society after having the opposite view for years. I now realize that Muslim people do not want to be “with us”. While many would view Muslim “no go” zones as an insult to western civilization, I feel now it is best for Muslims to have there own towns and cities. It is clear they have rejected mainstream North American secular society.

      When I go to the gym I see many Muslim guys but no Muslim females which means that I as a Western man am stuck with an unnatural segregation. So my gym,, which would be a natural point of interaction has become a Trojan horse for segregation. Therefore I agree that the battle is lost for integration despite the fact that we would lose the interaction of wonderful Muslim people. Clearly Muslims are rejecting my society and this is a great loss. We must consider complete segregation as unfortunate as this would be. I would be willing never to visit your towns and places and as Muslims would be free to have Sharia, FGM, etc .

      It is sad that Muslim control of females is dividing us but we must be realistic. May Christ bless you all.

  19. awake

    March 17, 2008 at 10:03 AM

    Amir,

    Your position is flawed. Allowing for discrimination in private institutions and hoping that it will be forthcoming as opposed to covert, with a possible negative socio-economic impact as a penalty, essentially takes us back to the 1960’s. The discrimination will still be covert, only now they are protected from litigation.

    As I said in a previous thread here, this is all about the perception of discrimination, whether substantiated or not. For each exclusionary measure taken as a token of inclusion for another, someone feels discriminated against. It’s that simple.

    sincethestorm,

    You do know that the bakery clerk in the primetime special was an actor, don’t you?

    Sarsoora wrote:
    “Well, if I was a female student paying for a facility (ie. tuition) why should I always have to accomodate for others? Why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to use it during peak hours.”

    Ummm, you would be able to. Before the “women’s only hours” women were not precluded.

    you wrote:
    “There are Jewish womens only hours for everything.”

    Huh? Not women only, but Jewish women only?

  20. ruth nasrullah

    March 17, 2008 at 10:04 AM

    Br. Amir, thanks for clarifying your viewpoint. I’m not well-versed in economic theory, so many of my comments probably should have “it’s my understanding that” before them…

    That said, it doesn’t seem to me that the Civil Rights Act definitively prevents all private entities from denying all groups access to their products or services. It’s intended to give all people the *opportunity* to that access. As time goes on and suits are brought, the courts will determine what does and doesn’t constitute illegal discrimination. Perhaps there is a significant difference between the US and Australia with respect to these issues; I don’t know.

    Again, I’m not familiar with economic theory, but the US thrived for most of its history with an economy based on disenfranchisement of much of its population. It doesn’t make sense to me to think that companies that discriminate will die a natural death because of how consumers respond to its actions. The economy of the south flourished for centuries thanks in large part to slavery. This year we have seen a black man win the majority vote of several southern states. Mere decades ago blacks were prevented by discriminatory practices from even voting. Civil rights laws changed that.

    With respect specifically to the Harvard issue, I believe it’s simplistic to say that Harvard University is “private property” in the broad sense. It’s not a government agency, but it is not owned by a single entity which can determine at will whom it may serve. I would also note that if Harvard admits students who receive student aid from the government, then it is required to comply with the government’s non-discriminatory rules. I think it’s disingenuous to say that Harvard is “private property” in the same sense that my home is “private property.” To think that an institution that has thrived since the 17th century and that has a multi-billion dollar endowment will be toppled by discriminating against Muslim women in a gym is an idea based solely on theory.

  21. dario

    March 17, 2008 at 10:45 AM

    “There are Jewish womens only hours for everything.”

    Uhhh, feel free to point out an example of that in the US

    This whole thing would have gone over a whole lot better if rather than 6 muslim women making a fuss about this based on religious reasons, they had included all women (regardless of religion) in their petition/proposal. As it stands I think closing off a gym because of the request of a handful of muslim women is ridiculous. Closing off a gym because of the request of a large group of women I find more rational

    And I find Amir’s logic somewhat ironic, considering that he belongs to a religious group that widely supports alphabet organizations set up designed to combat any perceived “discrimination” real or imagined.

  22. Michael

    March 17, 2008 at 11:44 AM

    A few drawings depicting your prophet: what’s all the fuss about?

  23. theManOfFewWords

    March 17, 2008 at 6:51 PM

    Am I the only guy who would be upset that I would lose access to the gym and be inconvenienced. Harvard is a wealthy place, how about 2 gyms.

    Also, as for the civil rights act, to be honest, I dont like the idea of the federal government involved in ANYTHING.

    If there was a coffee shop that said no Muslims, well I just wouldnt go there and take my business elsewhere, and if there was a law that forced them to let me in, do you think it would be wise of me to drink the coffee they serve me?

  24. sincethestorm

    March 18, 2008 at 1:46 AM

    awake,
    Yes I know it was an actor. But what it was for real? The faulty logic of a Harvard as private institution doing as they wish can be used to justify a bakery clerk refusing to serve some patrons. That attitude is just asking for trouble. Country clubs then could deny blacks or females because that’s their policy. Do we really want to take a step back to pre-civil right’s time?

    saroosa,
    “Well, if I was a female student paying for a facility (ie. tuition) why should I always have to accomodate for others? Why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to use it during peak hours. Sure I can jog on a treadmill in Hijab and a huge Tshirt and sweats, but what about swimming…. Guess I should go pick up one of ”

    You have to adjust not accommodate others. We live in a co-ed society. Just because you decide to cover up doesn’t give you the right to not allow someone else to use the gym. You can pay money to use a women’s only gym. The sisters that attend Harvard are most likely not struggling financially. And, if they want to swim then there’s the burkini (saying with a straight face).

  25. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 18, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    Manoffewwords,

    There are several gyms on the Harvard campus. There are other gyms open to men during these hours where this one gym (the smallest and most out of the way gym on campus) is for women only for a couple of hours a week.

  26. theManOfFewWords

    March 18, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    Thanks, Abu Noor for the clarification, if that’s the case then i dont know what all the fuss is about.

  27. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

    I agree with you ManofFewWords, it is hard to figure out what it is about except that it seems to be a vehicle for expressing anti-Islamic sentimetns.

    In fairness, though, I would point out that some people of goodwill, such as Professor Jonathan Turley who represents Shaykh Ali al-Timimi on his appeal has also written that he is bothered by the policy. Also the commenter awake here seems to be sincerly troubled by the policy.

    I think such sincere concerns are the result of a severe gap between basic understandings of human modesty and gender relations between Muslims and most other groups in America today. Also, it seems that there is a feeling which I admit I don’t fully understand, that to try to accomodate the Muslim understanding of human modesty and gender interactions even if one totally disagrees with it out of human kindness and tolerance for diversity, will somehow have some negative effect. The only ‘negative’ effect as far as I can see is that it will allow Muslims to retain their concepts of modesty and not force them to assimilate to the standards of the general society. I’ve tried to argue that when it comes to racial or handicap discriminations I think it is good if people are basically forced to accomodate to non-prejudicial views (or at least actions) whereas with gender I think it is much more complicated. At base I do believe that ‘separate but equal’ is sometimes appropriate in the gender context.

    Allaah knows best.

  28. theManOfFewWords

    March 18, 2008 at 8:56 PM

    Abu Noor … stop being so ornery.

  29. blackbelt9226

    March 18, 2008 at 10:32 PM

    well, it’s something to be proud of that there’s enough muslim sisters at harvard for this to even be seriously considered, let alone actually happen :).

    *takbeer!*

  30. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 20, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    Man of few words,

    I haven’t been ornery at all…no idea what you’re talking about.

    Salaam.

  31. theManOfFewWords

    March 20, 2008 at 3:37 PM

    Abu Noor,

    I apologize, I have always wanted to use the word ornery and I thought I would test it out online before using it in person. You happened to be the unlucky subject of my experiment.

    I must admit I was a little disappointed by your response. I was expecting more drama.

  32. mcpagal

    March 20, 2008 at 8:20 PM

    TheManOfFewWords must use a WordADayDictionary :)

  33. AnonyMouse

    March 20, 2008 at 10:51 PM

    MoFW, if you wanted to use the word “ornery” on someone, just use it on a kid! Doesn’t matter what the situation is, most of the time it still applies…

  34. theManOfFewWords

    March 22, 2008 at 2:04 AM

    mcpagal, AnonyMouse,

    thank you both for demonstrating what it means to give unsolicited advice.

  35. AnonyMouse

    March 22, 2008 at 8:08 PM

    You’re welcome :D

  36. mcpagal

    March 22, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    Yeah, I didn’t mean that as advice (never mind unsolicited) – but you’re welcome!

  37. Hid

    March 22, 2008 at 9:17 PM

    .Rasool Allah said,”Deen is Naseeha” …

  38. Jon Miranda

    March 23, 2008 at 10:33 PM

    When women are exluded, it’s sexism.
    When men are excluded, it’s defended.

  39. Charles

    June 17, 2008 at 12:58 PM

    There’s a new article worth reading on this topic in the Harvard Divinity School Newsletter by Andrea Useem, Dialogue: Women Only?.

  40. Matt

    March 12, 2009 at 4:44 PM

    To be honest, I find the premise of “women’s only” sessions quite annoying. I have just got back from my gym, only to be told that the last few hours of the evening are devoted to women only. This fact is clearly quite unpublicised; I have been there several months and have not heard anything about it.

    I pay a membership to this gym. Why should I, as a male, be allowed less access than a woman, who pays the same?

    I understand the requirement that muslim women can’t work-out (and thus wear sport specific clothing) in front of un-familal males. But then surely, they should pay more for the privilege of more available hours? It is a service. Just in the same way that if I want to hire a personal trainer for 3 hours instead of 1, I will pay more.

    What irritates me more, is that, as a gay male, the LAST thing I would be doing is “perving” on women in the gym whilst I am doing my workout. Yet now I have had to make the journey home, at my own time and expense, because I am excluded from the gym because of my gender.

    I have no choice about being male. Yet this is blatent discrimination against me.

    • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

      February 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM

      No, it’s an attempt to counter harassment of women. I’m speaking of your gym Matt, not Harvard. Many women are uncomfortable working out in front of men because they get stared out, and hit on. That’s a reality. The gym can’t control human behavior, but they can acknowledge that reality and give them a private time to train. That’s being sensible, and taking care of their clientele. It’s only a few hours a day and you have the entire rest of the day to work out, so get over it.

      As far as the Harvard thing, it’s pure Islamophobia and hate. The haters know that it doesn’t represent a takeover of America by Shari’ah, but it’s an opportunity to scare people and create a fuss. Plenty of American institutions (airlines, prisons, universities) offer kosher meals. Is that a takeover by Jewish law? Is anyone kicking up a fuss? Obviously not.

      It’s pure Islamophobia.

    • Hello Kitty

      February 28, 2011 at 3:06 AM

      What I get from your post is that you’re not annoyed so much by the existence of women only times at gyms per se, but put out by the fact that your gym has been so inconsiderate of you, as a paying customer. If there are times or places where you won’t have access to the gym or certain parts of it at certain times, you deserve to be informed of that, clearly. Members of your gym deserve to be clearly notified about these things, and have these things publicized so you don’t make a trip out to your gym, only to be turned away not long after you arrive. If this is a new thing the gym has decided to add, they should give members a chance to opt out of their contracts if this means you will be unable to use the gym anymore because of time constraints that contrast with the hours available to you as a male. It’s the gym management’s responsibility to smooth these things over with their customers.

      I dont think telling him to “get over it” is appropriate at all. He’s had a bad customer service experience there, and is frustrated about it. Putting myself in his shoes, I would be frustrated too if I had been given zero information about this beforehand, and got turned away from the gym I pay monthly fees too, without being informed that certain hours were off limits to me. If it was a policy already in place when I joined that I was not notified of either, I’d be upset in those circumstances as well.

      • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

        February 28, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        Most likely the gym did post the policy somewhere, or included it in their newsletter or something. Many members don’t pay attention to such things. So he made the trip to the gym one time and was surprised by the policy. That’s what, 20 or 30 minutes of his time? And now he knows, so he can schedule around it. Again, get over it. It’s not that big a deal.

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