Female-Only Services

This is triggered by a new taxi service in which all the drivers are women, and men are only accepted as fares if they accompany a woman. Apparently it’s on shaky legal grounds on both ends. But the linked article links to another article about Hotels set aside floors for women which does not mention legal issues.

Questions are 1) whether these are in fact legal, and 2) whether they should be legal.

I don’t know about the first, not being any sort of legal scholar.

As for the second, my general feeling is that I can live with it either way, as long as the system is consistent. Meaning, either “I’m personally more comfortable with people of Gender X” is OK or it’s not, across the board. But the devil is in the details.

ISTM that there’s a difference in whether it’s based on feelings, versus opinion. Meaning if you’re more comfortable with Gender X because of your or societal feelings about certain types of interaction between your gender and theirs, that’s what we’re primarily talking about in these instances. If you’re more comfortable with Gender X because you believe Gender Y are all incompetent idiots, that’s a different issue.

That’s where I think there may be some distinction between the taxis and the hotels. The hotels sound like it’s mostly about privacy, an expansion of the separate gender bathroom concept. The taxis sounds like something more about fear of being assaulted, which sounds like it’s on shakier grounds (since the likelihood of being actually assaulted is so low). But to the extent that it’s based on some women uncomfortable being alone in a car with a male taxi driver, that would be the same.

But then the question is whether there’s a difference if there’s a rational basis for this. There’s no doubt that a woman does have a higher risk of being assaulted by a male taxi driver than by a female one. While someone who refuses a female doctor because he (or she) believes women are incompetent doctors is on shaky factual grounds. But then what about if there is some area where one gender tends to perform better than the other? Could get complicated.

It’s discrimination and should be banned - unless the opposite practice is also permitted (having male-only taxis, etc.)

My entirely non-lawyerly opinion: The whole thing might be a lot more practical if women had the option of requesting a female driver from a taxi company that employs both men and women.

A question: statistically, are women at risk of attack by licensed taxi drivers, rather than just from illegal ones? The stories I hear all seem to involve getting into what is, essentially, a random stranger’s car, not a licensed cab.

Exactly. If this is OK, then male-only golf courses and health clubs should also be legal (again).

And, I agree with Bozuit, a female can request a female driver, if the option is there, and she is willing to wait. Same for female car sales, doctors, masseuse, etc. If the option is not there, then you can accept the circumstances, or patronize another company.

This is another example of a case where I don’t think the new-wave “color blind” approach to discrimination is very productive for society.

I agree that this is on shaky legal grounds. I do not agree that it ought to be as simple an analysis as “well, if X can’t do it, then nobody should.” There is a difference between what they used to call “invidious” discrimination and discrimination that is the result of something like a woman’s comfort level with a female driver. There has to be some calculus taking into account what the harm is that anti-discrimination law is intended to guard against, and whether the discrimination at issue is actually creating that harm. I don’t believe that allowing a female-only cab service runs afoul of the general spirit of laws against gender discrimination.

The same of course is true for men. Yet they don’t get the same access to such a “safer” service:

This is pretty clearly about hostility to men, not “safety”.

Even if this were deemed legal, the whole thing would fall apart the moment a cross-dressing male who insists he’s really a woman tries to get a room on the all-women’s floor.

I don’t see the difference. The idea behind anti-discrimination laws is that it is “invidious” to believe that person X is not acceptable to you because of his race or gender. Feeling safer around a female instead of a male is a prime example of this. It implicitly says that males will attack me but females will not. It perpetuates a stereotype.

Can I hire only Jewish people in my law firm under the guise that I don’t invidiously hate other races, but I am simply more “comfortable” being around people who are smart?

No, you can’t do that.

Is there an employee pool of women fed up with the lousy pay from working retail or food service who will be happy with the lousy pay from cab driving, now that they are less likely to be robbed and assaulted by male fares?

Retail workers already are in danger of robbery and assault. Look at the security camera footage of convenience store hold ups. It’s mostly though not exclusively young men working the counter at night, when the creepy crawlies come out. And single moms are not going to be as available to drive at night anyway.

They’ll get around the legality by dispatching male drivers for male fares with no loss of accommodation. But the woman hacks will come at an upcharge by necessity.

Female-only health clubs exist. Curves and Lucille Roberts, to name two. And I think the argument in the case of golf courses is that business is transacted in them, so women are at a disadvantage if they cannot join.

The wikipedia article says that men can join Curves in ‘some states’. I would imagine it’s states like California that prohibit gender discrimination.

From the Unruh Act -

I think there must be some exemption where traditionally oppressed groups get a pass (hence things like the Hispanic Bar Association and Black Chamber of Commerce) and this might fall under it.

No problem with the hotel, though. Hotels have all kinds of exclusive floors for different reasons. Family level, club level, rock star level.

Cab driving (which I have done, but not for long) has certain risks, but definitely more for women than for men. Knowing you only had to pick up female fares, or groups that included a female, would cut some of the risk but not all of it. As a driver, I’d go for that. As a passenger, I’ve never felt particularly at risk because of the gender of the driver. The actual driving expertise, yes. But not whether the driver was a guy (99% of the time).

Who cares? Let the free market give consumers what they want.

cue the "soon taxi companies will only serve white people blah blah PC nonsense

Here and here are the membership application forms for the two groups you mentioned. I can’t see where they ask if you’re Hispanic or black. So I don’t think they discriminate.

The cab thing doesn’t seem right to me, though I would guess it’s more about the safety of the drivers than the guests. It could be helpful for women with oppressive families who wouldn’t be comfortable with them being alone with a male cabbie. Plenty of parents of teen girls would balk at a normal cab ride, for example, and this could open up some options. But that utility doesn’t really outweigh the negatives.

The hotel floor thing doesn’t bother me at all (though you have to wonder why the “woman friendly” amenities are not standard-- are men still default and women deviation?). I can see them being hugely popular among travelers from countries where the whole “women traveling solo” thing is cutting edge-- which encompasses much of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

I’m not a huge worrier about travel security, but lots of people are, and I’m a fan of anything that makes it easier for people to travel (and take advantage of the opportunities present in traveling for work).

The New York Times article mentioned that some Orthodox Jewish women would only ride in a cab with a female driver. Some Muslim women may have the same need.

As a waiter, I’d go for only serving white people because they tip better. It’s statistically proven just as much as your “male passengers are dangerous” belief. Is it moral for a business to refuse black and hispanic customers? Why [del]or why[/del] not?

These aren’t private enterprises. These are taxis. They drive on public streets all day. They take up about 20x more “street space” than a private vehicle that is driven, say, 40 minutes a day. They idle at public transportation venues like air ports and bus stops, and they put out X times as much air pollution as a normal commuter.

Simply put, taxis are a blight on public infrastructure. Why should men have to put up with that cost when they can’t use the service?

Actually, they’re not taxis. The service proposed for New York is actually a livery service. So they won’t be idling any more than any other car.