Men-only room - harmless social quaintness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 1995, 12:00am

IF one took the feminist approach to its logical conclusion, then all of our toilets should also be unisex. Personally, I wouldn't mind it that much, but I suspect quite a few women might.

Keeping women out of certain rooms in certain clubs might be anachronistic, but that is precisely why it should be kept. It is a harmless social quaintness and should not offend any part of the proposed Equal Opportunities Bill which should properly deal with genuine discrimination, of which I can think of at least two examples.

One is the way the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club deals with domestic helpers at its new clubhouse. When I went there the first time, I was appalled that my domestic helper (who is long serving and a friend of mine and my children) was asked to stand inside a box drawn with a thick white line in a corner of the playroom. Furthermore, domestic helpers are not allowed to enter the lobby and must squat outside the clubhouse and behind a purdah - out of sight. I remember writing to several stewards about this ghastly behaviour and none of them even had the courtesy of writing back.

That is why I don't go there.

Another ugly example of genuine discrimination is found at the Ladies' Recreation Club. They strictly ban the appearance of any domestic servants.

Perhaps Miss Anna Wu should concentrate on these and similar genuine cases and let up on those areas in which we men (and I suspect Miss Wu as a woman wouldn't understand) wish to congregate as a specie. If nothing else, we men sometimes wish to tell risque jokes or even swear amongst ourselves and would not wish to be offensive to female company. It is also a very traditional Chinese custom. And Miss Wu, as a Chinese, should at least understand and respect that.