Springwise is definitely my favourite new discovery of recent months. They featured two projects which caught my attention. They are, in different ways, partially concerned with gender:
In Good Company is a coworking space for women, in the Flatiron district of New York. It looks pretty swish, and seems reasonably priced. $375 gets you a desk for 20 hours a week, plus two hours in a meeting room and sundry other perks. Thinking about this in terms of gender, I had a number of conflicting reactions:
- With the website’s promise of “cocktail minglers and salon forums provide fun and flavorful networking opportunities”, it feels a bit like the post-modern woman’s answer to the old boys’ club. Call it ‘the new girls’ club’.
- Of course, for 99% of civilized human history, we’ve used male-only spaces to deny women opportunities of all sorts. This still happens in much of the world (I’m currently reading Reading Lolita in Tehran). So, surely women have the right to women-only spaces anywhere and time they wish.
- Who’s right? The woman who demands access to the men’s bar at the golf course, or the woman who denies men access to a gender-specific workspace. Or, in light of millennia of injustice, can they both be right?
So, obviously, I didn’t come to any profound or enlightened conclusions.
In a world without discrimination, I fully support gender-specific spaces. I think it’s human nature to want to spend time among your own gender. In a world without discrimination, the market could decide what, if any, men or women-only spaces we want and need.
Until then, things are muddier. I care about fairness, so men don’t really have a leg to stand on in complaining about women-only institutions. That said, I would be bummed if Vancouver had no Workspace, and only had an In Good Company.
The Crowd Takes Sides
In even the best of relationships, disagreements are bound to arise from time to time. For those with no clear resolution, a new site offers a way for each member of a couple to tell their side of the story anonymously and let the crowds decide who’s to blame.
Launched earlier this month, Pittsburgh-based SideTaker begins the dispute-resolution process when one member of a couple submits their side of the argument on the site. A link is then e-mailed to that person’s significant other, inviting them to add their own side. Only when that happens does the story go live on SideTaker for the perusal and ruling of the visiting crowds.
And the Too Much Information bar gets raised yet again. I think this is more just an entertaining vehicle than, you know, actual conflict resolution. I assume that their early marketing efforts have been to women, as a quick skim of the questions (consider those concerning money) are all, uh, wife generated.
I don’t think they’re going to save any marriages (and I found the UI a bit baffling), but it might provide some salacious and amusing anecdotes.