Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ladies-only benches outside St. Paul's Cathedral

Ladies-only benches outside St. Paul's Cathedral (2009)
Ladies-only benches outside St. Paul's Cathedral

Location: Swanston Street, Cathedral Gardens of St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia

Opened: Laid out in 1921

Closed: Still exists, but not enforced

Close up of "Ladies Only" mosaic

I haven't found out too much about the history of these ladies-only benches, but they sure get an interesting reaction. One (male) blogger freaked out and called them an example of "21st century sexism." Absolutely! Right up there with rape, domestic violence, unequal pay! However, he also admitted that he wouldn't sit there. (Afraid certain dangly parts might fall off in divine retribution?)

Couple having lunch at the ladies-only benches (2012)

Which is ridiculous, because men have been violating the spirit of this humble (legally unenforceable) "ladies only" seating arrangement for at least fifty years.  

Ladies-only benches (1955)

Carefully examine this photograph of the ladies-only benches from 1955. You will see four ladies--and two (apparently illiterate) gentlemen. Observe, however, how the body language of the ladies indicates that the menfolk are distinctly NOT included in any of their groupings or in any conversation. In fact, the woman sitting next to the man has definitively turned her back on him. None of these women are even making eye contact with these fellows, and are gazing off in every direction as if to avoid it. Wish I could listen in as to what these ladies were thinking just then....

Also notice that the man on the left has assumed a kind of defensive posture (legs tightly crossed), while huddled very close to the man on the right. Interesting....


  1. hi, I love this blog - how do you do your research and decide what spaces to cover?

    thanks for keeping it up :-)

    1. The research? Google searching images, news (especially archives), and anything else I can think of. Under any terms I can think of that might come up with something. What I include is what appeals to me. Usually the place can't exist anymore--though I have included a few places where the space is just in danger of closing, where I cannot verify that it exists anymore, or where it no longer exists as womyn's space (school went coed, etc.).If you have suggestions for interesting places to investigate, let me know! And thanks! Glad you like the Lost project!


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