Exercising my rights: Why I’m suing my gym for gender discrimination – and how you can help
In a recent Mail Online article I revealed my plans to sue a local sports center for gender bias.
The announcement, which ran in a piece entitled Bigot in a Bra, sparked both debate and interest – with colleagues, gym peers and friends keen to know more about this controversial case of sexual discrimination.
Encouragingly, beyond being curious, some passionate MHRAs went a step further, wanting to know how they could support my fight with emails, re-Tweets and donations to my legal fund.
Here, in an exclusive for A Voice For Men, I would like to thank them – and answer their queries.
Firstly, let me set the scene. The venue in question is the Kentish Town Sports Centre – a popular, local government-owned facility in north London, UK.
Following a successful, multi-million pound makeover, the gym now attracts hundreds of people every day from all sections of society; black, white, gay, straight, religious, atheist, male, female, young and old.
There is no dominant demographic. Everybody is welcome and everybody gets on. But not everybody is equal.
Because, co-governed by a very pro-feminist local government, the Kentish Town Sports Centre bans all men and boys for 390 hours per year.
Why? Because they’re considered potential threats to women. Yep, that’s correct – they ban all males from their gym room and pools – whether they’re gay men, pensioners or children wanting to burn off innocent energy – for 7.5 hours every week in the name of feminism.
Incredulously, they still charge men the SAME annual membership fee as women, have no ‘men’s hour’ equivalent and have failed to conduct any research into men’s needs.
In short, men are getting shafted in the name of political correctness.
Generally, this ban happens at peak times – with an abrupt announcement asking all men to leave the building in a walk of shame. The resulting sight is a sad one. Seeing hordes of men and boys – who’ve all paid good money for a public service they’re entitled to – being humiliated and rejected for nothing more than their gender is heartbreaking.
You can almost see them soaking up self-loathing like a sponge. Meanwhile, a misplaced, inherited guilt hangs in the air like smoke.
Simultaneously, female users look at these men (me included) suspiciously, constantly trying to spot which one of us is the threat.
Ironically, for all their blood, sweat and tears, these women’s prejudices are being exercised more than their muscles.
Yet, because we live in an age of acceptable misandry, many of the men are too polite to speak up. Rather, like a giant metaphor for life, they save their upset for the privacy of the changing room and deflate.
But not me.
Several weeks ago, I formally complained to the venue’s general manager, asking him to change the gym’s policy with one of three alternatives:
A) Maintain a women’s hour, but introduce a men’s hour in the interest of fairness
B) Keep women’s hour (and only women’s hour) but charge men less, OR
C) Scrap single-gender sessions altogether
Seems fair, right? My thinking is this: if the need for women-only sessions is so great (and not just a commercial/marketing decision by gym bosses) then great, have one. But don’t expect men to fund it.
Sadly, my suggestions were rejected.
“A report by the Women Sport and Fitness Foundation showed that a significant proportion of women (26%) “hate the way they look when they exercise”. This was based on a survey undertaken by WSFF of 2013 people,” they replied in an email.
“This takes on an even greater significance when you consider that women feel even more self-conscious when taking part in sport and physical activity when men are present. A WSFF survey in 2010 found that a significant number of respondents (total of 559 women) did not like the opposite sex to see them exercise.
“If you are wondering who or what WFSS is it is a charity that campaigns and specialises in increasing women’s physical activity levels.”
Translated into plain English, this means: feminists say a minority of women ‘feel’ bad about their bodies…and because heterosexual men are attracted to women, their very existence makes it worse, so they should be banned.
That’s like trying to clean a dirty face by rubbing a mirror.
It also assumes that all men are heterosexual, when in fact many of them are gay and have no interest in the female aesthetic. In fact, if they really wanted to, these men can be voyeuristic in the showers.
So what next, gay hours? Straight hours? Gimme a break.
Then, when I told them that men typically die before women, thus have a greater need to access fitness services – something based on fact, rather than feelings – they had no answer. Similarly, when I pointed out that their policy assumes that only men can objectify the opposite sex, they were bewildered. But they still did nothing.
Only two weeks later I was forced to complain when four teenage girls were wolf-whistling at men in the weights area – jeering ‘who’s the biggest’ and laughing. The management barely raised an eyebrow.
Time to play hard-ball, I thought.
And that takes us full circle. This is precisely why I’m now suing them for gender bias. Because I have politely pointed out their discrimination and asked them to change it, but they’ve refused.
Relying on the law is my only option, but I’ve learnt that this isn’t easy.
In a bid to launch my case I contacted almost 100 solicitors, all of whom refused to help me. Perhaps for them it’s too risky – or too political.
Not only was this disappointing, but it was also frustrating because several editors had already shown interest in my battle – and were willing to run stories on my case; something which would’ve helped the MHRM significantly.
Fortunately, Erin Pizzey – AVFM’S very own editor at large – buoyed me by personally offering her support, as did human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who described my fight as “sensible and fair”.
In fact, Peter recommended I contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for legal help, which I did. But I sent two emails – on 7/1/13 and 10/1/13 – and both were unanswered. I called to chase and was reassured, but that was over a month ago. Still nothing. No prizes for guessing why: there’s an endemic disinterest in men’s issues, which is another good reason to fight back, hard.
Only this time I realised I would be doing it on my own. That’s often how it works when you’re fighting for men’s rights.
Fortunately, with the help of the good people at MRA London, I found a solicitor who will take on my case for a reasonable fee. Given that I’m largely bankrolling this myself, this is important.
Now, we are working together to build my case and things are moving forward.
Increasingly, the gym seem nervous – not least by the public embarrassment it may cause them, but also by their own anti-male indoctrination.
And so they should.
Because, if I win, it would be very much a test case – with gyms all over the country being forced to update their policies to be truly equal, without feminist propaganda skewing it.
Not only would this be physically healthy for everyone who can access gyms without restriction, but it would also be socially healthy for those who understand the toxicity of sexism – whether directed at men or women.
That’s what I’m fighting for – and you’re welcome to join me. After a long process in getting to this point, things seem to be gathering pace. Fortunately, I think I can go the distance…especially with the brotherhood on side.
This is a heavyweight issue, but feels much easier knowing you’re all behind me.
Thanks for everything so far.
Publishers note: I am generally very hesitant to encourage readers to contribute anywhere but AVFM. We have significant operational costs and sweat the bottom line quite a bit.
I think this is a badly needed exception. Mr. Lloyd is not only the first undisguised and unapologetic men’s human rights activist to ever break through to mainstream media writing, but this is also a case that could benefit our cause in several significant ways.
I will be donating personal money to help support his lawsuit, and I hope others will also make the same choice. To donate to Mr. Lloyd’s legal fund, you can use paypal and send the money to his account using the email address email@example.com.
If you have any questions about how to do this, please put them in the comments and they will be answered.