WaterWorld’s Sister Only Scandal
WaterWorld’s Sister Only Scandal
Summer is well and truly underway in Britain, everywhere you go people cannot fail to comment on just how ‘wonderful’ or ‘glorious’ a day we’re having. The weatherman can barely contain his excitement as he utters the word ‘heatwave’ and we all breathe a sigh of relief that this summer certainly looks as if it will be one spent in pub gardens or on the beach with an ice cream in hand, rather than one cooped up inside with various relatives longing for the new academic year to begin to provide an escape.
Therefore, activities that allow you to cool off, relax, and enjoy the good weather are bound to be popular. WaterWorld, the UK’s number one indoor tropical aqua park in Stoke-on-Trent, is preparing itself for a busy few weeks of unoccupied school children. To accommodate for Stoke’s local community, WaterWorld is hosting a ‘Sisters Only Event’ on Sunday 9th August from 7pm to 9pm.
This event is restricted to women and boys up to the age of 4 years only. All of the rides and attractions will be open as usual. Only female staff and lifeguards will be working for the evening and the windows will be blacked out to stop people from looking in from the outside. There will be female staff at the entrances to ensure that no males enter WaterWorld during the event. There will also be a special prayer area in the reception area.
WaterWorld has stated that this event is not aimed at any religious or ethnic groups in particular. Indeed, WaterWorld puts on a variety of special events which cater for the different values and beliefs of their customers including over 18’s singles nights, naturist night and inclusion events for those with disabilities. As an event in hours external to normal opening times (the park closes at 5pm), it is providing those who are normally dissuaded or prohibited from attending the park in normal opening hours. This event does not overlap with times that the park would normally be open and therefore does not or should not affect anyone who is not attending the event.
Instead as being heralded for widening the opportunities for participation and for making cultural allowances, the tabloid press has characteristically slated the event with language that fuels racial and cultural intolerance and disrespect. Mo Chaudry, the owner of WaterWorld, claims to be ‘astonished’ by the level of negative feedback which the event has received, saying ‘we feel we’ve been victimised for offering something that we feel that there is a demand for.’
Many users on Facebook have jumped at the chance to say that the event is sexist by only allowing women even though there is a male only night offered as well. Others have branded the event discriminatory on the basis that the noun ‘sisters’ implies that only Muslim women will attend. Women of any faith or belief may attend. Then there are those that claim that the additional clothing that will be worn by some attendees will be unhygienic but they do not seem to have a problem with the naturist night.
With the EDL promising to host a protest outside of the event it seems like the event will be far from quiet. However, the widespread media coverage has allowed those who may never have done so to hear about the event. Women of all faiths, beliefs and colours with varying reasons, from religion to body consciousness, have pledged on WaterWorld’s Facebook page to be attending the event.
WaterWorld has highlighted that an activity which so many take for granted is actually very restrictive for a lot of people. Hopefully, WaterWorld will run a successful event that is soon commonplace in our multicultural country, not making the headlines of red tops.
Madeleine is a recent graduate from the University of Exeter where she studied BA English with advanced proficiency in French. Madeleine loved her time at uni, especially her involvement with online magazine Her Campus Exeter and taking advantage of how close the city is to the beach. In the next year, Madeleine hopes to complete a semester studying Chinese and Chinese history at Soochow University, China, and indulge her love of travelling by getting lost on a gap year before returning to Blighty to undertake postgraduate study at the University of Bristol, studying MSc Gender and International Relations.