A Montreal gay man is launching a human-rights complaint against Curves, a United States-based chain of women-only fitness franchises he says denied him membership.
The case comes after a Longueuil woman filed a similar complaint of sexual discrimination after being ejected from Le Stud, a men-only bar in the Gay Village...
...he wants to make a point: Women shouldn't demand access to men-only bars if they're not willing to open up their own clubs to men.
"It's a hypocrisy that I want to expose, and I have the power to do that," Matthews said yesterday after faxing a copy of his complaint to The Gazette.
This little s**t disturber admits to filing this suit to make a point. It's some sort of warped revenge against women in general because of the Vachon incident at Le Stud a week ago. As far as I am concerned, for that reason alone this complaint ought to be ignored. He is doing nothing more than making mischief on the public dime.
On Thursday, Matthews called a local Curves franchise, on Sauve Blvd. W. in St. Laurent - the quickest one he could find in an Internet search - to ask about membership.
He said he was told he wasn't eligible because he was a man and the company's policy is to accept only women.
The club's owner, Elaine Sadori, said yesterday she was unaware of the call, but added each application is treated on a case-by-case basis and Matthews is welcome to book a consultation to discuss the matter.
Excuse me for being skeptical. I doubt a call was even made, or if it was it was warped and manipulative, designed to get someone to say "No, men don't get memberships to Curves."
"It is a women's gym," acknowledged Shadia Habib, one of the downtown club's owners.
"It's a really delicate issue, however, and I understand by law you cannot say no to a man coming into a gym, and I totally support that, because I don't see why they shouldn't (be able to join), " said Habib, who bought the club three months ago. "If they absolutely demand it, we cannot totally refuse (men), but we would tell them at first it wouldn't be right" to become a member.
The franchise has nearly 400 members - all women.
"I would love to have men (here), because they're who I'm used to training," Habib said.
"But it's the members - they're training here because they don't want to train at Nautilus or the YMCA, because they're very uncomfortable with their weight." Most of Habib's clients are overweight and shy about it; the last thing they need is a man looking at them, she said. "They go to women's gyms so they won't be evaluated on the way they look." If word gets out that men could apply for membership, "that would totally wreak havoc in the gym - everybody would be complaining," Habib said. Even if the applicant is gay, like Matthews, women would still object, because he's a man, she added.
The club already has a problem with women cancelling their memberships over the issue of gender, because the club's other owner is a man, who comes in once a week to work in his office, walking through the gym to get there, Habib said.
I hate to say it, but there is a world of difference between the issue of working out at a gym and getting a drink at a bar. Habib is right. Loads of women avoid regular gyms and go to Curves because they are uncomfortable with their body image. They do not want to go to a gym that ends up being a pick up joint. They want to work out in a place where no one is "looking at them," but the privacy of their own home may not be an option. They need the discipline of a public place without the added ogling. This is not a problem faced only by overweight women either. Smaller women may also have problems with their body image. There are also religious and cultural concerns to consider.
This is not about discrimination. It's about providing a service requested by members willing to pay. If Curves was excluding black or Indian women, then they would be discriminating. Le Stud is not a private, membership-based club. It's a bar tailored to gay men. If they want to keep women out, then they must alter their format. Male-only private clubs exist and they are not considered discriminatory, but private clubs.