Livin’ La Vida Lockdown

Why if it isn’t March already, and the International Women’s Day tomorrow! Feeling very excited to see what online fun the universe has come up with to spoil us girls tomorrow, what with the awkward workplace rose-ceremonies being off because. Will be special, I’m sure.

If nothing else, it’s the anniversary of the last gig of the Sussexes as working royals (is there any other kind??). Because we know whose fault everything is, royal experts have already sold their assessments of the Oprah interview without, obviously, having seen the whole thing, as it only airs tonight. Both sides have dutifully fed respective medias for days now, thus putting their monies where their mouths are by demonstrating to us commoners what public service really is. So far it looks like a lot of panem et circenses with a side of mud-slinging, but I’m deprived of entertainment and will take anything I can get.

So that’s that.

Then there’s the International Women’s Day tomorrow, which of course is great. If I were a cynic I would say it’s the day when every male politician/UN Secretary General sends a tweet starting with “As a feminist…” but I’m obviously not. I did read about a new women’s private club opening in Brussels in about a month’s time (rules permitting), which at first sparked moderate joy. The American women’s club The Wing, which was also dubbed as a co-working space, made some waves in Europe as well, but never quite took off as it did in the US, where it raised huge amounts of capital by selling feminism as one would sell socks, and had a somewhat cult-status at the height of the girl boss- hype. (The Wing’s co-founder Audrey Gelman resigned in the BLM-aftermath and most The Wing spaces had to close shop because of the pandemic.)

The Brussels-version of the new private women’s club is called The Nine, and it will be situated right next to the European Commission headquarters. For an annual fee (€650 to €900) one can see the renovated insides of the Brussels townhouse that used to house the legendary Barbanera restaurant. The Nine will have a wellness-area, art exhibition room, bar, co-working space, conferences and staff who will know how you take your coffee. (It took me about 365 visits to my local coffee shop until all staff knew how I take mine, but we’re there now.)

I salute anyone who puts their money and assets on ventures that are meant to advance women’s empowerment in any way. An expensive private club targeted to wealthy EU officials is one way of doing this. (To give the founder full credit, she’s also founded a non-profit that provides healthcare and education to girls and women in the Middle East.) It’s easy to criticise initiatives for the elite – especially if they are being marketed as inclusive, feminist enterprises, which they generally speaking are not.*

It’s a shit time to start a business now, I fully get that, but I also get that plans have been made and money has been invested so things need to happen as well. It’s the pandemic misery that probably makes me look at this venture with somewhat more raised eyebrows, but I cannot think of a much worse timing to launch an exclusive, safe haven for high-salaried EU officials to sip customised coffee and enjoy show-stopping designer toilets. (The Nine is open to all nationalities and backgrounds, so it’s merely my personal take that most members are supposed to come from the EU institutions across the road. Further desired membership qualities include authenticity, curiousness and being uplifting.)

Tremendous respect for the founder for taking the risk and spearheading such an undertaking in Brussels in the middle of pandemic, and, indeed godspeed.

I did not mean to rant so much today, as it’s been such a lovely weekend. I wish you a fantastic women’s day tomorrow, and again big thanks for reading and commenting.
Your day will be filled with billion tweets about “So when’s the international men’s day? Har-har.” Never you mind. It’s still on 19 November.

*Feminism cannot be sold nor bought. It irks me massively to read about exclusive, expensive, women-only private clubs that brand themselves feminist, “safe spaces for women to get together” in order to boost sales. Across Europe women’s shelters – safe spaces where the word safe signifies actually being safe from violence, not luxuriating at empowerment brunches – are overcrowded, understaffed and chronically underfunded.

Why can’t these private women’s clubs just be private clubs without “feminism” slapped on as a political fig leaf? Men’s private clubs hardly come with lengthy explanatory notes and half-apologetic justifications for their existence.

The trouble with clubs.

I don’t want to belong to any that would accept me as a member.

The photo is not taken by me and I do not know who took it – it’s taken from an Instagram account which did not specify the source.

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