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Tuesday March 10th, 2015

Feminists across Montreal are declaring victory after dozens of clubs agreed to segregate their dance floors. “Women have suffered under the yolk of patriarchy for far too long,” says activist Marie Tuleshomme. “Today, we’ve won one another victory for women’s rights. Thanks to the progressive and humane thinking of these club owners, women will now be able to dance in peace and harmony, free from the oppressive glare of the male gaze."

The battle for segregated dance floors started last year, after Tumblr user Lily Cordial posted a note complaining about being eye raped while dancing at Foufoune Electrique, a popular downtown bar. “Men kept looking at me dancing, which is basically rape,” says Lily. “And I realized that in order to stop being eye raped, clubs needed to create segregated spaces so that men were no longer allowed to interact with women. That’s when my friends and I started lobbying the provincial government to pass a new affirmative consent act that would make it illegal for men to interact with women in any way, shape, or form, without first receiving explicit consent from them. Men shouldn’t be allowed to even look at a woman without her telling him it’s okay before hand."

Lily's post about her ideas inspired a hundred thousand reshares as feminists around the world rallied to her cause. “Gender equality requires legally enforced segregation combined with female centred affirmative consent,” says Lily. “Separate but equal is the first step to creating genuine progress. "

Club owners, for their part, say they’re protecting their own interests by segregating men from women. “The Liberal party of Quebec has tabled an affirmative consent bill that, once passed, will target second degree harassment,” says bar owner Leo Goudreau. "In effect, they’re expanding the definition of harassment so that business owners will be held culpable for the behaviour of their patrons. If a man, for example, flirts with a woman without her permission, a bar owner could be charged with second degree harassment, since it happened on their property. Rather than risk that, most of us are just going to make it impossible for men and women to interact."

While many feminists are celebrating the introduction of segregated dance floors, some believe more needs to be done. “Sure, we’ve got segregated dance floors for men and women, but we also need to create safe spaces for all the minorities that caucasian men oppress,” says Lily. “We need to go beyond gender, and focus on race and sexual orientation. We need a law that makes it illegal for white people to talk to black people, a law that makes it impossible for straight people to hang out with gay people. The key to creating equality is by ensuring the existence of legally enforced safe spaces where white men are not allowed to enter under threat of force. Only then will we live in a truly just and equal society."

When asked about class privilege, Lily laughs. "Class privilege doesn't exist. That's just nonsense that white men made up to avoid facing their culpability in perpetuating a deeply inequitable society."

Some people are worried that views like the above will inspire a backlash against feminism. “There’s a segment of the feminist movement that has gone bat shit insane,” says activist Kloe Maudite. “These are people who think the way to fight racism and sexism is by bringing back racial segregation and making it illegal for men to look at women. In the 1960s, the left fought against segregation, and today, they’re fighting to bring it back. You have progressives on Tumblr who think white people shouldn’t eat chinese food because that’s cultural appropriation. Many people who identify with the left are going to wake up in the next few years horrified by what people are doing in the name of equality."

Lily dismisses those concerns. “Kloe has internalized misogyny,” says Lily. “She doesn’t realize that the only reason she disagrees with me is that she hates being a woman."

Kloe is used to being dismissed by other feminists. “Feminism has been highjacked by white upper class University graduates,” says Kloe. “They don’t care about empowering us, they don’t care about liberating us, they only care about controlling and dominating us. They use the language of freedom in order to control people. It’s Orwellian. My one hope is that feminism manages to survive the puritanical reactionaries who have taken it over."

What do you think? Do you approve of segregated dance floors? Is it racist for white people to eat Chinese food? Is Kloe Maudite a self-hating misogynist? Let us know!
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