Monday, June 20, 2016

Tommy's Joint/Tommy's Place

Jeannie Sullivan & Tommy Vasu (far right) taken at Mona’s.
Tommy's Joint (Later known as Tommy's Place)

Location: 299 Broadway (1948-1952), 529 Broadway (1952-1954), San Francisco, California, USA

Opened: 1948

Closed: 1954

Tommy's, along with Mona's, was one of the classic lesbian bars of that era. For some reason, I just never got around to posting on Tommy's earlier. Remedying that now.

From Before the Castro: North Beach, a Gay Mecca by Dick Boyd:

Tommy’s Joint, 299 Broadway, 1948 to 1952, Tommy’s Place, 529 Broadway, 1952 to 1954 (Now the Garden of Eden)
Tommy Vasu was the first known lesbian to legally own a bar in San Francisco. When out on the town she dressed like a man in double-breasted suits, wide tie and a fedora hat. She used the men’s room, had a beautiful blond girlfriend and loved to gamble. In short, she was a risk taker. She often came into Pierre’s for high stakes prearranged liar’s dice games with artist/entrepreneur Walter Keane.
The 299 Broadway site was where businessmen from the nearby financial district could find a willing hooker out of sight of prying eyes at places like Paoli’s. Stevedores from the docks close by also partook of the hookers on paydays. The hookers were the girlfriends of the butches who hung out there.
Adjoining Tommy’s Place was 12 Adler (now Specs) accessible by a back staircase. It was a lesbian pick-up rendezvous. Upstairs was entertainment pretty much by whoever cared to perform. During a purge of gay bars in the early 50’s, 12 Adler lost its liquor license in what appeared to outsiders as a set-up. Drugs were found taped to the drain under the sink in the ladies room.
Tommy ran the Broadway Parking concession and was around Broadway until the mid 60’s. Tommy’s high maintenance blond was a heroin addict and Tommy became a dealer to supply her needs. She got busted and sent to Tehachapi where she was murdered shortly after her release.

From It's a Raid by Michael Flanagan:
Bartender Grace Miller (left) at
Tommy's Place before it was raided.
Tommy's Place & 12 Adler
Spec Twelve Adler Museum Cafe (12 Saroyan Place) is on the alleyway (formerly Adler Street) across from City Lights. A colorful North Beach bar with enough bric-a-brac and curios on the walls to keep you entertained for hours, it's also full of North Beach characters.

But in the 1950s it was a lesbian bar, owned by the openly lesbian Tommy Vasu (and attached to Tommy's Place on 529 Broadway, now the Garden of Eden strip club, by a back stairs). The bars were the site of a sensational raid that resulted in a trial and months of hysteria in San Francisco.
A newspaper clipping of the
Tommy's Place and 12 Adler Place busts.

Boyd's Wide Open Town puts it this way: "...when Tommy's Place was raided on 8 September 1954, it was part of a much larger police agenda. Because the arrests involved a handful of underage girls, the event escalated into a multifaceted investigation into juvenile delinquency that fleshed out the ostensible connection between organized 'sex deviates' and the corruption of minors." Two bartenders and a patron, Jessie Joseph Winston, were put on trial. Winston and bartender Grace Miller served jail time and both bars were shut down.

Dave Cullen provides even more details on the 1954 raid:

Sept. 8, 1954 - Tommy's Place (a lesbian bar in San Francisco) is raided after an article in the S.F. Examiner about the 'marked influx of homosexuals' into San Francisco.  Because the arrests involved a number of underage girls there was an investigation into connections between 'sex deviants' and the corruption of minors.  There were accusations of benzedrene and barbituate use and that the girls were 'taught to smoke marijuana.'  Two bar owners were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Another bar owner was not arrested, but her name and address were printed in the paper.  The raid led to a Grand Jury investigation and a U.S. Senate sobcommittee hearing.  The young women involved were forced to publicly testify at the hearings and eventually the two owners were convicted of serving alcohol to a minor and served six months in prison.  Mr. Jesse Winston, an African-American man who was arrested for furnishing marijuana to a minor and possession of marijuana was sentenced to one to 20 years in San Quentin.

Wide-Open Town by Nan Alamilla Boyd also has several passages on Tommy's--too many to quote here.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Edmonton (1980s)

Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Opened/Closed: 1990s

Shakespeare's is one of those lesbian bars that once existed, but there is so little information (readily) available on it, it might as well be from ancient times.

The ONLY reference to this lesbian bar I can find is a list that Queer Edmonton keeps called Yeg's Gay Club Past:

SHAKESPEARE'S (199?-199?)
In the mid-'90s Shakespeare's was a downtown Edmonton lesbian bar. (10805-105 Avenue).

The only other lesbian bar listed is Secrets, which became Prism Bar and Grill, which became the Junction Bar & Eatery. We've posted on that place here.
By an interesting coincidence, we have also posted on a place called the Shakespeare Inn Ladies CafĂ©, which existed in Boston in the early 1900s. Most of what we know about that place is that men tried to crash it, which just goes to show that nothing is really new in the history of womyn's space. Maybe all the "queer theorists" should try to base a theoretical analysis on the actual historical record for once, instead of just making up stuff.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Women-only cars on Chicago CTA?

That this conversation is even taking place in the USA is fascinating. Liberals have told us for years that these things can't be done (that's discriminatory!) and shouldn't be done, because, you know, we need more (male) education! And this women-only thing is only done in "backwards" countries! Oh, and Not All Men Are Like That (NAMALT)!

Uh huh.

And that's when it was brought up at all, which was almost never. It was practically taboo to even bring up the topic for discussion.

Adult males need to be taught that it's not nice to rape or grope women? Frankly if they never got the message growing up, I doubt they're going to get it now. So let's looks into real-life solutions that help women now.

And isn't it paradoxical that as womyn's spaces that used to seem non-controversial and benign--restrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters--are increasingly threatened with elimination, we're seeing a RESURGENCE of interest in women-only public transportation options because of, shhh, male violence. The same thing we're not allowed to talk about when it comes to male voyeurs, cross-dressers, pedophiles and the like invading restrooms.

From Chicago Reader:

April 12, 2016

Could woman-only el cars prevent sexual harassment on the CTA?
It's worked in Mumbai and Tokyo, but the CTA says education is a better strategy.

By John Greenfield @greenfieldjohn

Last month, in the wake of hundreds of reported sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in Cologne, a German commuter train line announced it would offer railcars reserved for women and children.

Crowded transit systems in Japan, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Mexico, and Brazil already feature women-only rail cars in order to prevent harassment and assaults.

In response to that news, last week NPR commentator Rhitu Chatterjee wrote glowingly of the ladies' cars in her hometown of Delhi.

"It would be wonderful if men learned to accept women's presence in public spaces without feeling the need to harass them," Chatterjee wrote. "But until they do, the women's car is one good way for us to assert our right to public spaces."

Indonesian women board a women-only carriage of a commuter train on the outskirt of Jakarta, Indonesia. - IRWIN FEDRIANSYAH/AP
Indonesian women board a women-only carriage of a
commuter train on the outskirt of Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Irwin Fedriansyah/AP
  • Her op-ed got me thinking about whether female-only cars might be a strategy to combat sexual intimidation and violence on the CTA.

    In 2015 there were eight reported sexual assaults on the CTA—a category that includes everything from groping to rape—according to spokesman Jeff Tolman.

    He characterized that as "extremely few instances," considering that 516 million rides were taken last year.

    While lesser offenses often aren't reported to the CTA or police, stories female friends and colleagues shared with me by for this article suggest that inappropriate behavior is all too common on the system.

    Jane, a 43-year-old urban planner (who like many women I spoke to asked that we not use her real name), reported that men have catcalled and exposed themselves to her on the el on multiple occasions.

    Alice, a 53-year-old legal assistant, told me she's tall and assertive enough to intimidate would-be offenders, but has petite friends who've endured so much harassment that they only ride the train alone at rush hour, or not at all.

    One of them is Blanca Robledo-Atwood, a Colombian-born graphic designer who's four-feet-11.

    One evening she was riding the Red Line when a tall, beefy guy sat down next to her and whispered in her ear, "You are so beautiful—I want to be your friend."

    After trying in vain to ignore his advances, she spoke loudly to him in Spanish, which he didn't seem to understand. "He got embarrassed and tried to hide," she recalls.

    Still, she feared the man would follow her off the train.

    After that she stopped riding the el by herself at night.

    The man who tried to hit on 34-year-old nonprofit worker Ellen on the Blue Line's Jackson platform at 2 AM was less polite.

    After she made it clear she wasn't interested, he snarled, "Well I'm a nice guy, but I hope your boyfriend continues to beat and rape you."

    Ellen held her ground in the ensuing shouting match, but she now thinks that was unwise.

    "I could have gotten stabbed that night-who knows," she says. After that she largely switched to commuting by bicycle.

    "I get high anxiety sometimes when I enter CTA trains, no matter how much I think I'm a strong and badass woman, and it pisses me off to feel that way."

    Brittany, 28, survived a sexual assault that occurred while she was riding the Blue Line out to Oak Park on a Tuesday afternoon in May 2014.

    As the train crawled through a slow zone west of the Kedzie-Homan station, a large man approached her in the otherwise empty car.

    The assailant held her down and attempted to rape her.

    She was able to snap his photo as he fled. (A few months later police apprehended the man, who'd been attacking other women for years, she says. He's now doing jail time.)

    Brittany rides the el less often nowadays, and when she does she tries to sit in the front car, with the driver.

    "I still have major issues taking trains," she says.

    Brittany and a few other women I spoke with thought women-only cars could be an effective way to address harassment and assault on the CTA, if the policy could be properly enforced.

    "I've heard enough of these stories that I think many women would welcome a female-only car," said the legal assistant.

    But there's skepticism as to whether such an approach is necessary in Chicago, even from transportation experts who take harassment seriously.

    “Putting men in a train car separate from me will not stop them from harassing me when we exit the train.” —Courage Project founder Kara Crutcher­

    Lauren Dean is an urban planning student at UIC who since 2011 has been doing research on the ladies' compartments of the Mumbai railway system.

    Gender-separated cars are crucial in India, she says, because "the crowding on the train makes it very easy for male commuters to grope or rub up against women who don't have any means of escape and often can't actually identify their assailant in such a huge crowd."

    In Chicago, street harassment is "absolutely an issue for female commuters," Dean says.

    But she adds that the physical space on the Mumbai trains is totally different—it's common for 14 to 16 passengers to be crammed into a single square meter of floor space.

    "Even at its most crowded, the CTA doesn't handle that kind of crushing passenger density," Dean says.

    The CTA's Tolman notes that 23,000 security cameras have been installed throughout the system in recent years to serve as a crime deterrent and aid police in catching offenders.

    But he dismisses the possibility of female el compartments in Chicago by pointing out that "no transit system in the United States uses women-only cars."

    Instead, the agency is addressing the problem through a new informational campaign.

    "If It's Unwanted, It's Harassment" warns would-be offenders that abusive behavior will not be tolerated.

    The centerpiece of the campaign is a new line of rail and bus advertisements encouraging riders who see a fellow passenger being hassled to speak up, contact CTA personnel via an onboard intercom, or call 911 if there's an immediate safety threat.

    But some of the credit for the new initiative should go to the Courage Campaign, a grassroots organization launched in 2014 by Uptown resident Kara Crutcher to fight harassment on the CTA.

    Last year the group successfully lobbied the agency to shift its focus from simply asking victims to report incidents to preventing abusive behavior by raising awareness of the problem.

    "We're happy to see a couple of CTA ads up regarding harassment," Crutcher said. "It is definitely a step in the right direction. . . . Personally, I hope that we can work with them to produce more educational ads, but we shall see."

    As for female-only cars, while Crutcher says these could provide a safe space for women suffering from post-harassment PTSD, she argues they're a Band-Aid solution that doesn't get to the root of the problem.

    "A cultural shift must occur," she says. "We must recognize and respect each other everywhere, but especially in these public spaces. . . . Putting men in a train car separate from me will not stop them from harassing me when we exit the train. But education, antistreet harassment advocacy, and courage might."

    John Greenfield edits the transportation news website Streetsblog Chicago.

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Glastonbury festival's "The Sisterhood"

    As genuine women-only space is stripped away--even places as seemingly innocuous as bathrooms and locker rooms--we seem to be seeing mainstream, male-dominated culture introducing a faux or "lite" version of womyn's space, as if to confuse women further.

    An example of this is the Glastonbury festival, where they have oh so thoughtfully set aside a little corner for the ladies. Ladies, of course, meaning anybody who at that particular moment can say they "identify" as a lady. And at a festival where the leadership does not appear to be identifiably female at all.

    Meaning it's all bullsh**--completely meaningless, anemic, and non-threatening to men.

    Of course, some men won't be in on the joke and will object anyway. Which is roughly 90% of the comments following the article. Men just freaking out over one damn tent that's "women-only" for just a few days. The rest are getting the wink and the nudge. Just throw on a wig and you're in.

    Glastonbury 2016 to introduce women-only venue
    The Sisterhood, in the festival’s Shangri-La zone, will offer live music, workshops and DIY classes to female festivalgoers
    The Sisterhood, Glastonbury festival will open in 2016.
    The Sisterhood, Glastonbury festival will open in 2016.
    Photograph: Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images
    The 2016 Glastonbury festival will feature its first ever women-only venue. Called The Sisterhood, it has been described by the organisers as a “revolutionary clubhouse” open to “all people who identify as women.” The Sisterhood will be an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space” and will be staffed entirely by people who identify as female, from performers to security staff. In a statement, the venue’s organisers said: “The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women-only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men. Oppression against women continues in various manifestations around the world today, in different cultural contexts." They continued: “In the UK, the gender pay gap in the workplace, cuts to domestic violence services and sex worker rights are current talking points that highlight this issue. Sisterhood seeks to provide a secret space for women to connect, network, share their stories, have fun and learn the best way to support each other in our global struggle to end oppression against women and all marginalised people, while showcasing the best and boldest female talent in the UK and beyond.” You’ll be able to find The Sisterhood in the festival’s Shangri-La zone, where there will be live music, DJs and workshops on intersectionality, diversity and inclusion. There will also be daily dance classes and, surely best of all, DIY power tools workshops with carpenter Rhi Jean.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    Women-only "pink carriages" on Australian trains

    Female commuters wait to leave Tokyo's Shinjuku station in Keio private railway’s "Women Only" carriage.
    Female commuters wait to leave Tokyo's Shinjuku station
    in Keio private railway’s "Women Only" carriage. Source:AFP
    This is really major. For years, we have been told that women-only public transportation facilities were silly old-fashioned things that "progressive" people neither needed nor wanted, so of course you only saw these things in "backwards" countries outside "the west." Insofar as crimes against women on public transportation are noticed at all, they are treated as a problem of (male) "education" (good luck with that!) or law enforcement. Given that I was just reading today about a woman who was raped at knifepoint on the Washington, DC metro, it doesn't seem this approach has been terribly productive.
    Interesting in that we are now seeing proposals in Germany, the UK, and Australia. So much for Queen Victoria. She's not as outmoded as the men would have you think. And given that the opposition is largely in the NAMALT (Not All Men Are Like That) category, that should tell you something.
    And isn't it fascinating that on one hand, there is this emerging (if tacit) "official" recognition of the threat that males pose to women in public spaces, while at the same time, women in "the west" are being told that women-only bathrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters are "bigoted" and we must give them up.

    Emma Reynolds

    A CALL for women-only “pink carriages” has caused uproar as passengers and train operators weigh into the debate.
    Rail, Tram and Bus Union national secretary Bob Nanva says public transport needs to be safer at night and is proposing a trial of all-female carriages, seen elsewhere in the world.
    He is proposing a trial of Safe Carriages in NSW, with carriages installed with extra distress buttons, on-board CCTV and more regular checks by staff.
    “Since September 2012, there have been 2859 criminal offences against women on public transport, including almost 19 sexual offences against women on NSW bus, tram and train networks every month,” he told
    “A survey of NSW commuters a few years ago found that 64 per cent of women felt unsafe on public transport after dark. But this is not just a NSW problem — commuters across the country have told us that something must be done.
    “Women and children who travel on public transport after dark should have the option of a safe haven where they can feel safe without having to worry if the bloke leering at them from across the aisle is a potential predator.”
    Radio presenter Ben Fordham from 2GB told The Today Show this morning: “It makes me feel really, really weird, the idea that women need to be protected from someone like me.
    “There are lunatics out there who are women and who are men who go around assaulting people and doing all sorts of disgusting things to people, but why don’t we just focus on the perpetrators?
    “I don’t think it makes sense ... What kind of message does it send to the kind of behaviour you can carry out in other parts of the train?”
    Many commentators implied that this was victim-blaming, asking why we didn’t just introduce men-only carriages instead. “Alternatively we could just teach men that it’s not OK to harass or assault women,” tweeted Natty Longshot.
    “We should be looking after everyone, it shouldn’t have to come to that,” added Christine Mincham.
    “Has the whole world gone mad or just Australia?” asked Trevor Blight.
    In fact, sex-segregation is already on offer on trains in India, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Other nations have female-only sections on cars and metro lines.
    A railway line in central Germany last week attracted controversy when it announced the introduction of safe carriages reserved for women and children, beside the guard’s office, according to Breitbart.
    The suggestion was also floated late last year by UK Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said in a statement that it was “unacceptable that many women and girls adapt their daily lives in order to avoid being harassed”.
    The last women-only carriage in Britain was removed in 1977.
    The RTBU’s Mr Nanva insisted the idea was not about forcing women into ghettos. “Of course, we want every carriage to be a safe carriage, and no passenger should have to put up with violent and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
    “That’s why the starting point for safer public transport must be a stronger staff presence across the public transport network — on trains and at stations.
    “But if a trial of Safe Carriages helps people to feel safer and more confident about catching the train, then it should also be part of the response to sexual violence on public transport.”
    A spokesman for Sydney Trains said: “The safety and security of our customers and staff is the top priority for Sydney Trains.
    “Our customer satisfaction survey shows that Sydney Trains’ customers are feeling safer at train stations with an increase of 11 percentage points from November 2012 to November 2015.
    “We work closely with the NSW Police Transport Command, who are responsible for crime prevention across the rail network.
    “There are thousands of CCTV cameras on our trains and at our stations, to help improve customer safety and deter crime. We also have emergency help points installed on our newer trains, which customers can use to report any safety concerns to the train guard.
    “There are also more than 750 emergency help points installed at our stations.”
    The carriage nearest to the guard on Sydney Trains is already marked with a blue light.
    The idea for the “pink carriages” was previously put forward by the transport union and NSW Rape Crisis Centre in 2013.
    The outraged reaction online suggests it may not have any more success this time round.

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China

    Opened: May 2015

    Closed: Still open?

    Not a lost space, but I don't consider that a hard and fast rule. Sometimes it's good to note up and coming womyn's spaces.

    Contrary to what some may think, women's banks are an old idea made new again. We've posted on experiments in this area dating back to at least the beginning of the 20th century. For example, see here for information on the Berlin Women's Bank (1909-1915).

    Shenzhen to Be Home to China's First Women-Only Online Bank

    May 6, 2015

    Editor: Kiki Liu

    The logo of Shenzhen-based Mulan Investment Company, China's first investment and financial platform serving only female entrepreneurs []
    Shenzhen, a coastal city of south China's Guangdong Province, announced on May 4, 2015 the founding of China's first online bank serving only women, after establishing the first female O2O (Online to Offline) financial platform — — in September 2014.
    Organized by the financial platform, a conference centered on young pioneers was held by around 300 young entrepreneurs and company founders and coincided with China's Youth Day, which falls annually on May 4.
    At the conference, the most notable agenda item was perhaps the founding of the first female online bank, named Mulan Bank after the Shenzhen-based Mulan Investment Company — the financial backbone of the new online bank.
    According to the investment company, Mulan Bank — the first online bank of its kind in China — would provide its services only for women, especially female entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the Mulan Bank has promised to customers that its ultimate goal is to increase women's financial power with online services and consumption as their cores pillars.
    In other words, the online bank will be rewriting a new chapter for the development of female entrepreneurs.
    Actually, the investment company was originally founded as a pioneering organization focusing on women's start-ups, investments and financial management — a gathering place for female entrepreneurs and founders of great power or fame.
    "We have embraced three brands based on the investment bank: Mulans, Mulan Pioneering and Investment, and then the Mulan Bank. That helps the investment bank to have far-reaching influence in China," explained Liu Aimin, the co-founder of the investment bank.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    Midway College

    Image result for midway collegeMidway College

    Location: Midway, Kentucky, USA

    Opened: 1847

    Closed: 2016

    The die-off of women's colleges continues. And once again, how alumnae feel about it is ignored.

    From Inside Higher Ed:

    Midway U Will Become Completely Coeducational

    May 17, 2016

    Midway University announced Monday that it will admit men to all programs. The Kentucky institution was founded as a women's college and already admits men to online, graduate and evening programs. The change will admit men to residential undergraduate programs that have until now remained for women only. The announcement from the university, which was until 2015 known as Midway College, noted the difficulty of attracting young women to single-sex colleges, and said that the undergraduate programs need more students.
    On the college's Facebook page, many alumnae criticized the move. Wrote one: "As a second-generation Midway College graduate, I am very sad to hear that the Midway I knew and loved will never be the same again. And I am afraid this is not a good change."