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AIBU to think that it is outrageous even to think that universities should be able to segregate men and women

(193 Posts)
LoveSewingBee Sat 14-Dec-13 20:20:30

Sorry for the long title.

Link to BBC article

For once, I agree with Cameron.

timidviper Sat 14-Dec-13 20:28:29

I saw Yasmin Alibhai-Brown interviewed about this, she was excellent and incandescent with rage. Her argument is that some religious groups are using our tolerance and laws that we have set up to protect against racism, etc against us to try and force their views over ours. She was really angry that this was being done in the name of Islam, in British tax-funded institutions.

If I was to travel as a guest speaker to the country of one of these "visiting speakers", would they be happy for me to insist that all audiences must be mixed? I doubt it

Makes me very uncomfortable to agree with Cameron though

Shenanagins Sat 14-Dec-13 20:31:11

I only came across this today and there is an interesting thread about this in the news section - on my phone so no idea how to link to it.

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 20:41:49

It's not as simple as that. It's nothing to do with the university's own actions.

The question is, should external visitors who speak to university audiences be able to request, demand or imply that the audiences be segregated? And should audiences be able to self-segregate?

I hold no brief for bearded homophobic extremists with a taste for sending money to various -istans to fund the purchase of large amounts of 7.62x39 ammunition. But I'm a free-speech advocate and think that free-association is part of that. Universities UK are pretty craven in their unwillingness to stand up to said extremists, but we should be careful what we wish for in demanding non-gendered spaces.

The objection to self-segregation is lunatic. It says that if ten people have a meeting and five men sit on one side of the room and five women on the other, the vopos university security should storm in and mix them up a bit. Seriously? So we can set that to one side: Cameron's grandstanding. If everyone's happy with the seating arrangements, it's no-one's problem but the attendees'.

The rest of it is slightly less lunatic, but still troubling. I'm quite happy for, say, a women's rape survivor group to get a room in the university or the SU and insist it be a women's space, for example, and I don't see that there's any pressing societal need to intervene to stop it (quite the contrary). There's plenty to criticise about the sexual politics of Catholicism, but the ability to hire a room for candidates for a priestly training to discuss whatever it is Catholics discuss doesn't strike me as unreasonable, and they'll by definition be men. It is also, clearly, lawful.

I have a suspicion that Cameron's either engaging in general purpose "let's make life annoying for the beardy weirdies", in which case I think he should be more upfront about what he's really trying to achieve, or hasn't thought it through. If a university lecture is segregated, that's bad, although it's not instantly obvious why universities should be held to a different standard to your local single-sex 11 to 18 school. But these sorts of events are almost exclusively room-bookings or room-hires for events happening under the aegis of campus or union societies, and I'm not sure it's as serious an issue as Cameron makes out.

There's a lot to worry about the activities of some of the extremists on campuses, and it's a matter of great concern that campus Islamic societies provide a disproportionate number of people who have or have tried to blow themselves up. But the sex segregation issue is a symptom, not a cause, and it's a purely incidental problem.

LoveSewingBee Sat 14-Dec-13 20:48:23

I think Universities UK is totally misguided and hope the Court case rules this option out.

I find it offensive to think that speakers could request segregation at tax payer funded universities. If otherwise they don't want to speak, well good riddance.

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:00:23

I find it offensive to think that speakers could request segregation at tax payer funded universities.

Again, it isn't as simple as you're making out. Universities aren't tax payer funded in any useful sense, especially not now fees are paid by loans repaid by students. HEFCE block grants are being substantially reduced, and most universities' income is or will within two years be from the Student Loan Company and from fees paid directly by students whose funding is not via UK loans. Some research funding is from the UK research councils, but a hell of a lot isn't. They're largely independent entities, whose governance is little to do with the UK government. And properly so.

If what the universities are doing is illegal, then that's one thing. But no government is going to be keen to offend Muslim, Jewish and other voters by demanding sexually de-segregated spaces in worship spaces. So if it's legal in a mosque or synagogue, why isn't it legal in a university?

I don't like this any more than you do, and the people demanding the segregation are deeply unappetising extremists who add little to our society. But it's easy to agree with free speech and free association when it's people we agree with.

I find this a bit worrying as well. I'm normally the first to advocate telling superstitious bucketheads to fuck off and lump it, but I do think that measures such as banning segregation could turn out to be a bit of an open goal for MRAs to harass women-only groups.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:05:53

I don't think these idiots who want segregated audiences are representative of Islam. No Muslims I know would insist on this nonsense.

Why are we pandering to this? How can you possibly defend it?

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:08:25

I also agree with free association which means i'll damn well sit with my male friends in a lecture hall.

Caitlin17 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:12:17

Friday16 actually it is simple . It's wrong.
Radio Four Any Questions panel was debating this. They all thought it was wrong.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:23:34

I don't know why it's all so bloody difficult - universities just say 'in our lectures people can sit where they like.'

Done.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:23:59

The main problem in my opinion is that this sort of demand, and response only increases the climate of intolerance that is building against Muslims in this country.
It used to be the RW extremists that came out with overtly negative views, and the majority that preached tolerance, but I'm hearing wary and negative comments from people I know and work with that are displaying a more isolationist, anti-immigrant and suspicious view, and a worrying growth of intolerance in people previously comfortable with the society they lived in.
I've had arguments with people over the Syrian refugee crisis, where the opinion has basically been 'If they are killing each other, they are not plotting how to bomb us, so let them get on with it'
Idiocy like this, [[http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3948391.ece ]] and the comments such as;
'Choudary told the crowd: ‘The shops are run by Muslims and they know they are selling alcohol and they know the sale and consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited.
‘We cannot live among the non-Muslims and see this evil take place.’
He told those gathered it was his wish that Sharia law, banning alcohol, should be enforced in Britain.'

will only fuel anti-Muslim sentiment, and create a rise in racist attacks.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:24:53

Apologies for the unnoticed space in my link.
www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3948391.ece

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:27:45

The main problem in my opinion is that this sort of demand, and response only increases the climate of intolerance that is building against Muslims in this country

I don't understand you point - are you saying that universities should allow segregation or not?

harticus Sat 14-Dec-13 21:30:35

It is fundamentally unacceptable in this country for anyone to demand that audiences are segregated based solely on the fact that some have cocks and some have cunts.

LoveSewingBee Sat 14-Dec-13 21:32:07

Silver - to me it seems that these people were trying to intimidate totally legitimate shop keepers. I hope they get arrested and taking to Court. There is no place in our society for thugs like that.

KittensoftPuppydog Sat 14-Dec-13 21:32:32

It's out of the question. It's apartheid. And we all know what separate but equal means, it means cutting women out.
As for it being voluntary, are the people who promote this view happy that some women will be pressured and harassed into taking this 'voluntary' action?

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:32:59

I don't think universities should allow segregation of the sexes at the demand of a lecturer, speaker or student.
I think such demands, and agreeing to them, and then denying increases the tension in a number of communities, and that tension is now present in areas I have previously not seen it.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:34:54

I wish more mainstream/moderate Muslim men would speak against it.

ConferencePear Sat 14-Dec-13 21:36:52

This is absolutely unacceptable. These are publicly funded buildings, if groups wish to practice this they should hire their own hall.

Eebahgum Sat 14-Dec-13 21:37:48

I saw the same debate as timid viper and they said that the religious rights of the speaker take precedence above women's rights to equality and the right of everyone to choose where they sit. It certainly wasn't about people self segregating if they choose to. It was about people being forced to segregate against their will.

sarine1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:39:14

I find it hard to believe that Universities UK even considered this. This should not be an excuse for Islamophobia - bigoted fools like Anjam Choudary provide plenty of fodder for that - but at times it's like watching the clock being turned back in this country. What on earth were they thinking about?

Eebahgum Sat 14-Dec-13 21:39:57

And Yasmin was passionate and eloquent. I'd let her fight for my rights any day.

harticus Sat 14-Dec-13 21:41:48

It was about people being forced to segregate against their will

And there's the rub.
Amazing that anyone could attempt to present this as anything other than abhorrent.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:42:57

I think that's the worry I'm getting from acquaintances, male and female, and from a range of ethnic backgrounds. People who are generally Liberal and Green and lentil-weaving sorts.
They see issues like this reported and feel that it is a hugely backwards step, and that they don't want that hatred and authoritarianism and control in their communities. Or in Britain.

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