Why The Increase In Women’s Spaces Isn’t A Trend, It’s A Much-Needed Movement

If you’ve been paying any attention to your social media feeds for the past year, then you know that women’s spaces (whether they’re coworking spaces, social clubs, gyms, or other networking groups geared toward or exclusive to those who identify as female) are popping up faster than you can keep up with quickie celebrity engagements.

After centuries — make that millennia — of exclusion from public spaces that men cordoned off for themselves, it should come as no surprise that women are delighting in spaces (whether IRL or online) made just for them. But even if millennial-pink interiors make some women’s spaces an Instagram phenom, they’re so much more than a trend; inside those walls, women, nonbinary, and trans people are driving political change, embracing their intrinsic power, and lifting one another up. They’re celebrating, protesting, supporting, and learning as a community, without the gaze or scrutiny of the outside world. They’re rebuilding the world for themselves — something that’s never been more necessary than it is right now.

To find out more about the unique ways these spaces are redefining the way we think of community, we partnered with Reebok, a brand that strives to uplift women, and spoke to founders of three organizations dedicated to empowering women and creating change.

Women’s World Of Boxing

When Reese Scott first walked into a boxing gym in her native New York 14 years ago, nearly every picture gazing down from the wall featured a male champion. “There was no place for women in the boxing culture,” she explains. “[The men] made it very clear — they told me every day. If I was working on a bag next to them, they’d walk away and go to another bag.” Suffering from depression and told by her doctor that she’d “be dead before 40” if she didn’t shape up, Scott kept going back, day after day. Boxing, which requires a mixture of mindfulness and sheer power, became her life.

Three years into her training, Scott decided she wanted to do something bigger — she wanted to teach other women “how to prepare for the fight in case the fight comes to us.” With that in mind, she launched Women’s World Of Boxing, New York’s first women’s boxing gym, in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood. The name is a jab at the men who’d once pressured her to quit: “Every day I’d hear, ‘boxing is a man’s world, women don’t belong here.’” Now, she tells every new member the same thing — “you start where you are” — and trains women of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels, including a 76-year-old and a group of teenage girls whom she mentors in an after-school program. And those pictures on the wall? All women. “I want every woman who walks into this space to see a woman she can relate to. I want them to feel their strength.”

Designed by Alex Marino.

Pineapple Collaborative

“We actually met at the farmers’ market,” Atara Bernstein, one half of Pineapple Collaborative, a community of over 60,000 food-loving women, says. “It’s a really nice metaphor for our friendship and partnership, setting the stage for what was to come.” Her other half, Ariel Pasternak, launched her career at Chaia, a female-owned vegan taco joint in Washington, D.C., while Bernstein worked with the salad chain Sweetgreen’s initiative to bring healthy lunches and nutrition education to D.C.-area schools.

After a potluck dinner Pasternak hosted for 30 local women in the food industry was met with hearty enthusiasm, she took the idea to the masses; Pineapple now offers two to three conversations and tastings a month in D.C., New York, and San Francisco (and they hope to bring them to more cities soon). These events are not only for women in the food industry but also for women “who just love food.” They’ve featured talks like “Whisk Takers,” a bake sale and chat with Christina Tosi of Milk Bar, and “Against the Grain,” which dug into millet, sorghum, and rye and “how bakers are revolutionizing baking with these grains while also impacting their local food system.” Pineapple’s digital branch gives “peeks into the pantries of women we admire,” like Instagram powerhouse baker Molly Yeh or Bon Appetit magazine’s wine editor, Marissa Ross. Their two biggest goals — building their community and inclusivity — are top of mind all the time: “Pineapple serves as a place for inspiration and celebration, and it approaches the incredible work women do every day, despite the challenges we know they face.”

Designed by Alex Marino.

New Women Space

The tentpole question Sandy Hong kept asking themselves before starting New Women Space was, “Where are all the women, femme, queer, trans, gender-nonconforming business owners?” They began their venture to bring together diverse groups with what they call “unconventional pop-ups” — happy hours in yoga studios or theater in a library, for instance. Hong met Melissa Wong, then a Kickstarter employee, at one of the early events, and the two had an “instantaneous camaraderie.” Within a month, they were plotting a 30-day pop-up space for what Hong calls a “member cooperative.”

Without the usual seed investment funding, Wong and Hong combined Wong’s talent for fundraising with Hong’s knowledge of event-space production and opened their small but mighty space in a 2,100-square-foot storefront. When it launched in September 2016, the two had no idea that an even more fractured political climate surrounding gender issues lurked just around the corner. Or that New Women Space would grow so beloved that it would blow past its 30-day mark — its now been open in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn for two years.

Members pay only $25 per year to join New Women Space, which functions as a workplace by day and a total “multiverse” (according to Hong) at night; they host everything from “a book club for moms or femme-identifying or nonbinary parents with free childcare downstairs” to a local acupuncturist who offers an informational and interactive event called “Healing with Haitian Herbs.” There are classes on cryptocurrency and movie screenings for local filmmakers. “In its highest ambition,” Hong explains, “this is a space where … we can build at the scale of our imagination.”

Designed by Alex Marino.

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