Is there any word (most likely a loanword) to describe sex discrimination issues for holding work-related functions in saunas?

It's a sticky, steamy business. Two or more do it naked in a small, dimly lit room. Heartbeats quicken, pulses pound, sweat pours. The climax is a moist, suffusing glow. It has nothing whatever, of course, to do with sex - but Olli Rehn, the European commissioner in charge of handling the euro zone debt crisis, has found himself accused of sexism after holding towel-clad briefings for male journalists in a sauna beneath his office in Brussels.

Are there any words or phrases for this concept?

  • This has shades of the now-forgotten controversy over female sports reporters getting admitted to team locker rooms to take interviews after games, and whether barring them but not male reporters constituted unfair work discrimination.
    – choster
    Oct 5, 2013 at 1:47
  • This is how organized crime leaders conduct their meetings. No one can hide anything when they're in the sauna. This is simply being prudent. Oct 5, 2013 at 3:19
  • Hold it in a German sauna: they are often mixed gender; and the towel is for sitting on, not for covering oneself with.
    – TrevorD
    Oct 5, 2013 at 14:00
  • @TrevorD, Olli Rehn is Finnish, and Finnish saunas (at least the common ones usually found in regular housing complexes) are normally mixed-gender as well. Oct 5, 2013 at 14:27
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Ah, but the article says this sauna was in Brussels. ;-)
    – TrevorD
    Oct 5, 2013 at 18:57

2 Answers 2


There is a phrase in US usage that covers the scenario described - creating a hostile work environment. This covers a wide range of unreasonable employer tolerated or fostered conditions that make an employee uncomfortable, often based on gender or orientation.

A discussion of this issue can be found here.

It also may be considered sexual harassment. There is a discussion by the US government agency that deals with claims regarding these issues here.

Note that both of these concepts depend, at least in part, on both the attitudes of the participants and the overall context of the situation, so any particular situation needs careful analysis before it can be determined if it fits these definitions. Because of the potential ambiguity, there are numerous lawsuits and debates about whether a given pattern of conduct fits these criteria.


Although the question is likely directed at a very specific concept I offer a few terms that may be applicable:

Homosociality (homosocial behaviour - of, relating to, or involving social relationships between persons of the same sex and especially between men)

Male Bonding

bonding between males through shared activities excluding females

Man cave (mancaving) or mantuary (also referred to as manspace)

One might also consider gender-specific terms such as fraternity and sorority (and the corresponding terms stag and hen if context permits).

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