In a world that has been historically built by men, through both their physical and their invested power structures, women must stand up and fight for territory, constantly battling for an inch here or a metre there, if you’re lucky. Just like any other war, we are fighting for land and borders, but in the battle of the sexes, it looks more like property and rooms as opposed to countries and continents.
Perhaps I was a privileged child, or maybe I was just lucky, but it wasn’t until my teenage years struck that I really understood the value of space and how fundamental this fight was.
As a young child I ran happily through my local mosque and community to play. I still cannot remember the exact moment it happened. But as the first signs of puberty began to blossom, I was suddenly denied access, and I felt a distinct sense of loss and that, somehow, my world had become smaller.
All of a sudden, I was restricted. The very buildings I had previously run through were now shrinking around me, confining me to reduced spaces.
Becoming part of those spaces and joining the ranks of women also came with a set of behaviours I was instantly expected to adhere to. I was changed, had been changed, by the spaces I now existed in.
I believe female-only spaces are incredibly empowering, and in them lies a certain freedom that arrives only when women are together and free of male company and opinions. But when those female spaces exist because male spaces have expanded and excluded women, pushing them into corners, they become a different beast altogether.
They become tentative spaces, the occupants unsure of their right to exist in them. And when you are uncertain of your welcome, your behaviour begins to change.