Marks & Spencer abandons women's safeguarding in the name of 'inclusion'.
One of the fiercest battle grounds in the gender wars appears to be what to do about toilets and changing rooms. Big corporations and retailers seem to be falling over each other to prove they are the most inclusive in this area.
Just take the recent example provided by female clothes retailer Monsoon. It was reported in April that the retailer refused a non-binary customer (see ‘biological male’) access to the female changing rooms. Once the ‘non-binary’ customer shared their account of this incident on social media, the clothes shop responded with a public self-flagellation on Twitter and an offer of a free prom dress to the disgruntled ‘non-binary’ punter.
Another retailer that has been central to the row over single sex spaces is Marks & Spencer. It appears the retailer changed their policy on this issue in 2019, without any consultation with their female customers.
And in August 2022, Marks & Spencer have once again publicly re-affirmed their policy on single sex spaces (or lack thereof):
The most instructive sentence is:
“…as an inclusive retailer and in line with most other retailers, we allow customers the choice of fitting room”
This relentless forward march towards the ‘inclusive’ Utopia seems to have come very much at the expense of safeguarding for women. Women, undeniably have unique safeguarding concerns as a consequence of their biology. This safeguarding concern is even more pronounced when it comes into collision with enclosed spaces, male strangers and a state of undress. As women cannot choose this fact of their reality, it makes no sense to ‘allow customers the choice of fitting room’.
The Times newspaper recently reported on some data that shows unisex changing rooms put women at danger of sexual assault:
‘Unisex changing rooms are more dangerous for women and girls than single-sex facilities, research by The Sunday Times shows. Almost 90% of reported sexual assaults, harassment and voyeurism in swimming pool and sports-centre changing rooms happen in unisex facilities…,
There are also no shortage of stories that demonstrate opportunists can and do take advantage of this policy of ‘inclusion’.
Journalist Nicole Lempert has collated a number of relevant incidents here:
There are also many more incidents of note to be reported unfortunately. One of the most discussed and debated controversies in this area in recent years became known as the ‘Wi Spa controversy’.
The story began when a woman posted a video to Instagram complaining to the staff at the Wi Spa in Los Angeles. The woman was very unhappy to find herself in the presence of a transgender woman exposing their penis in the women’s section of the spa—including in front of a minor.
The response to this incident became the perfect example of the entire problem with inclusive polices and what happens when women raise concerns about them.
The spa initially defended their policy of inclusion and customers overhearing the complaint voiced concerns, not of the fully intact biological male exposing themselves in front of kids, but of the complainants attitude towards transgender women. Online chatter and blogs claimed that this entire incident was a ‘hoax’, orchestrated by right-wing transphobes.
However, when all was said and done, the facts remain: the perpetrator was eventually charged with indecent exposure and it was revealed they had previously been convicted of the same offense in 2002 and 2003. Consequently, they were ordered to register as a sex offender in 2006, but were convicted in 2008 for failing to do so.
Those of us arguing for the necessity of single sex spaces will often be accused of demonising all transgender people as rapists, perverts and voyeurs in waiting. But this does not make sense for one simple reason: the exact same safeguarding concerns that should apply to transgender people also apply to me as a non-trans male—for exactly the same reasons. And I do not consider myself a threat to women, nor do I feel I am being defamed as some sort of deviant when prohibited from entering the women’s changing rooms.
The safeguarding system is designed to protect women from the statistically significant number of men that wish to do them harm or violate their privacy. Of course I do not think that this system was made specifically with me in mind, but I also know that to be allowed to simply opt-out of it is to render the whole system of safeguarding completely ineffective. Put more simply; it’s not about me.
Safeguarding will not prevent every warped male opportunist on the planet from accessing female spaces of course, but it certainly narrows down the window of opportunity far more than any policy devised around the idea of self-identification can. And that’s the point.
One of the many mistakes trans activists make on this issue is to assume that all trans women are a homogenous mind hive, with all the same political goals and desires to use female spaces. This is not the case.
I recently hosted a debate/discussion with two transgender women who couldn’t have been further apart on nearly every issue pertaining to this topic:
Debbie Hayton, for example, does not think it is ethical for her to use the female toilets and is perfectly comfortable using the ones that apply to their biological sex. Katy takes the more progressive stance that trans rights activist assume applies to every transgender person.
Marks & Spencer really only have one question to ask themselves. Do their ‘inclusion’ policies on changing rooms make their female customers less safe?