03 January 2010

Gender Cleansing?

There is a laundromat along a street that dead-ends at the street on which I live. There are also two others within two blocks of my apartment, but I have been using the first one I mentioned. Of the three, it's the smallest, and the least expensive. The proprietor keeps it clean and the machines seem to be in good working order, so I've seen no reason not to use it.

But today, as I washed my clothes, I realized something about it: I've used it four times since and passed it a bunch of other times since I've moved here, and every time, I've seen only women using it. And it's not women of any particular age group, or racial, ethnic or socio-economic background that I see there. All of the patrons come from "the 51 percent minority."

At the laundromat down the street from my old place, the majority of the people washing clothes were female. But I saw a fair number of males there. And it wasn't just young guys, the seemingly-unemployed or senior citizens: There were boys and men of all ages and backgrounds; they came from the public housing projects as well as the modern condos, and every kind of dwelling in between.

And, in other laundromats I've used in other communities, I noticed that a significant portion, if not a majority, of the ones washing their clothes were male. Often they were students or travelers, as well as denizens of the environments and backgrounds I've mentioned.

However, I have yet to see a male patron in the laundromat I now frequent. Interestingly enough, the proprietor of the place is a rather young (and not-half-bad looking) man who, I must say, has been very nice and helpful to me.

I wonder if that particular laundromat normally has an exclusively or predominantly female clientèle. There do seem to be more women living in the blocks near my apartment than there were in the immediate environs of the place where I used to live. What's more, there seem to be women of all age groups here, whereas most of the women I saw around my old place were around my age, or even a bit older.

On any weekday, you can see lots of women going to and coming from work and shopping the strip of stores near my apartment. Part of the reason why so many women--many of whom are apparently single--live here is that it's closer to the subways and other transportation, and there's nearly constant activity along the shopping corridor and the streets adjacent to it. Thus, many of us who have to come home after dark (or, in a few cases, go to work before dawn) feel safer in doing so. When I lived in my old place, if I came home after the last bus cruised Broadway (around 11 pm), I'd have to walk about a mile or take a bus that let me off about a quarter-mile away from my old apartment. Part of that quarter-mile was often deserted, as it is an industrial area where the small factories and garages close around 6 pm.

Still, I can't help but to wonder why the laundromat I've been using seems to have as female a clientèle as my nail salon or hair dresser.