Would you pay €4,000 to stay on a women-only island?

Men are banned from SuperShe Island in the Baltic Sea but a stay there doesn’t come cheap

Women who want to experience a men-free holiday now have an option, but it’s expensive. Photo: Getty

Women who want to experience a men-free holiday now have an option, but it’s expensive. Photo: Getty

 

Off the coast of Finland, immured in the Baltic Sea, there is a private island where men are banned and only a select few women, with suitably large bank accounts, are allowed to set foot. It is called SuperShe Island and it is the international headquarters of the SuperShe society.

When I first heard about this women-only island, I thought - rather hopefully - that it might be a SuperSapphic version of Love Island. Desert Island Dykes, perhaps? No such luck. There is nothing filthy about SuperShe Island; rather, it is all about the lucre. SuperShe, you see, is basically an upmarket networking group for well-off women. If you have €4,000 (GBP3,500) to spare and you are willing to undergo a rigorous interview, it offers you the chance to spend the week on a “wellness” retreat miles from men, mingling with other affluent, influential women.

Before any men start getting indignant, I should make it clear that SuperShe Island is not the product of a man-hating mind; far from it. As Kristina Roth, the founder of SuperShe, explains on the website: “Women need to spend time with other women. Being on vacation with men can cause women to become sidetracked, whether it’s to put on a swipe of lipstick or grab for a cover-up.”

It was quite the education reading this; I had no idea straight women were so easily distracted by putting on lipstick for men. It made me worry about heterosexual people.

SuperShe Island also offers lots of yoga (it is basically illegal not to do yoga at upmarket retreats), organic food and various life-improving exercises, including cognitive exercises to expel negative thoughts. I would love to know exactly how these cognitive exercises work, because the more I read about SuperShe Island (it has had a ton of press lately - there is something about banning men that seems to get people interested), the more my brain was besieged by negative thoughts. What fresh faux-feminist hell is this, I wondered. Please tell me this is not yet another example of a newly minted women-only space painting itself as empowering when it is clearly elitist?

I say “yet another example”, because there has been a boom in bouji spaces exclusive to women. There is the Wing, for example, a fashionable women-only co-working space and social club with locations across the US and a space in London on the way. Membership costs from€2,041 (GBP1,800) a year and there is a waiting list. Then there is the AllBright, an exclusive women-only members’ club in London that opened earlier this year and costs at least €1,105 (GBP975) to join. There is Women Fest, too, the UK’s first all-female festival, which is scheduled to take place in August. (It costs €255 (GBP225) to attend, but some of the profits will go to a tree charity, so I guess that is OK.) I could go and on, but you get the picture: the old boys’ club is being challenged.

I am not against women-only spaces. We still live in a white man’s world. It is important for minorities and women to have places that belong to them, where they feel safe and valued and can be themselves. But I find the trend for high-priced, women-only networking spaces nauseating, particularly as these often use feminism as a marketing device, talking about sisterhood while seeming only to care about bettering a few already wealthy women. This is not what feminism is. It seems to me that these spaces only set back gender equality. So, as far as I am concerned, SuperShe Island can get in the sea.

Guardian News and Media 2018

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