Muirfield golf club has lost the right to host the prestigious Open championship after taking the stunningly regressive step of voting against reversing its ban on female members. In fairness, Muirfield members seem to have some very real concerns – a letter circulated by those campaigning against the change revealed the terrifying prospect that “lady members” may pose a threat to such noble traditions as “our foursomes play, our match system … our lunch arrangements”. Quelle horreur.
The news has prompted intense debate about male-only spaces and whether or not they should still be allowed, with one major argument cropping up again and again in most of the discussions I have heard. “Why shouldn’t men be allowed their own space, when women have women-only gym and swimming sessions? Isn’t that sexist?”
The answer is that these two things are not the same. In fact, they couldn’t be more different.
Discrimination on the grounds of sex is different dependent upon who is doing the discriminating.