Last year I was member of one of the local naked bike ride organising groups on facebook. The group was made up of the typical mix of cycling enthusiasts, naturists, and environmentalists with discussion focused around organising routes and advertising, alongside the odd post for bike or nudity related events. I didn’t get involved in discussion much, but one interaction did get me thinking about how we, as naturists, deal with conversations about gender.
Someone from a local cyclist group posted an event advertising a women’s-only bike maintenance workshop. As I understand it, the workshop was organised in response to many women feeling uncomfortable in the mixed gender workshops as there was a problem with some men in the group dominating conversations in a patronising manner. Women’s participation in the workshops dropped, and the organisers decided to try a women’s-only session to see if that made a difference.
When the event was posted in the naked bike ride group, some of the more prominent male organisers commented saying that they didn’t feel that a women’s-only bike maintenance workshop was needed. A long discussion between a handful of men nay-saying the event and a couple of women defending it ensued, getting quite heated. I interjected briefly to comment that perhaps all the men objecting were probably not the most qualified to comment on whether women’s only events are necessary as they are not women themselves.
After making that comment, I got a good few messages from women in the group thanking me for the comment and saying that they didn’t feel comfortable with arguing the case for the event in a group where male voices consistently dominated conversations. It struck me that a similar dynamic can sometimes occur within purely naturist spaces, particularly around discussions around the “Single Man Problem”. I’ve read countless articles online and in naturist publications discussing the issue and it surprised me how few were written by women, emphasised women’s voices or highlighted the role of women’s-only events in increasing women’s participation. What strategies are your groups using to address the male domination of naturist spaces? Have they been successful in increasing women’s participation?