Women-only health clubs pose problem

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Senate Bill 176 would allow health clubs to bar men from membership. The reasoning behind the bill that some women just aren't comfortable working out around men, and that a workout is a personal enough experience to call for the exclusion of men from some clubs.

We'll go along with that. Sure, set up clubs that exclude men. But if we start excluding men from clubs, we'll have to allow men's clubs to bar women. And that could set a dangerous precedent.

For example, say a health club was established in Anchorage as a male-only establishment. Now say that club became the equivalent of a golf course, where men made deals and helped each others' careers through the male-only social setting. Say it became the elite hangout of the rich and powerful (men). Now say that women began to notice that their exclusion from these clubs had a career-limiting effect.

And, as women knocked down the gender barriers at Rotary Clubs, golf clubs and dining clubs, women would want down the door of the male-only gym. What's good for the goose would have to be good for the gander.

And that's what reopens the Pandora's box. While the bill appears to be all right on its face, where do we draw the line? First women want clubs open, now they want them closed. It's going to be tough to draw the line.

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