Los Angeles has long been at the forefront of promoting gender equality through career opportunities, policy reform, and the arts, and as the city continues to grow, so does the need for safe gathering spaces for women. For feminism to evolve so that it benefits all women, creating community is imperative, and these fives spaces have all been established to help promote feminism in their own way.
L.A.’s roller derby community has empowered women, girls, and gender non-conforming skaters for years, with leagues like Derby Dolls, founded in October 2003 by Rebecca Ninburg and Wendy Templeton, supporting feminism and teamwork through sport. The Derby Dolls HQ may be located in south of DTLA in Vernon, but the impact of the nonprofit has rolled through the city and helped the roller derby community make a name for itself throughout Los Angeles.
The Ripped Bodice, the country’s only bookstore dedicated to romance fiction, is the brainchild of sisters Leah and Bea Koch, who turned to Kickstarter to bring their passion for romance novels and visions for a specialty bookstore dedicated to the genre, to life. The Culver City store opened in 2016 and hosts countless author and community events every month, while the Koch sisters use their platform to support diversity in the romance publishing industry.
Shunned from black nightclubs for being a lesbian and white-owned queer clubs and bars for being black, Jewel Thais-Williams opened the Arlington Heights disco Jewel’s Catch One in 1973 to provide a safe space for members of L.A.’s LGBTQ+ African American community. A fixture in L.A.’s nightlife culture, the club became a favorite for locals and a celebrity hot spot for its welcoming, inclusive environment. Thais-Williams sold the space in 2015, and it has since been featured in the documentary named after the club and rebranded as Catch One in October 2018 by new owners who vow to continue the club’s legacy.
Katie Bachler, Kate Johnston, Sarah Williams opened The Women’s Center for Creative Work in 2014 as way to create meaningful dialogue around contemporary, intersectional feminism through art, events, and collaboration. The current center located on the bank of the LA River in Frogtown has been open since 2015, and the center has Artists in Residency programs and regular panel discussions, art shows, and networking opportunities.
Not many L.A. locals know that Little Tokyo is home a monument honoring an American icon born into slavery. Biddy Mason Memorial Park traces the life and legacy of Bridget “Biddy” Mason, an African American woman who fought for her and her children’s freedom in a California, and won. Mason would go on to help establish the L.A.’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church and amassed a personal fortune that today would be worth $6 million. The park is defined by a large wall detailing’s journey from being enslaved in becoming a businesswoman.
Hotel Figueroa opened in the 1920s as a hotel for solo women travelers, and we continue to rally for women’s rights. We’re continually inspired by the creative energy of Downtown Los Angeles. For local recommendations—and to hear from the diverse individuals who make DTLA what it is today—head to our Meet You Downtown blog.