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.

If you change male for black and female for white there wouldn't be a debate.

WestieMamma Sat 14-Dec-13 21:50:22

Haven't Oxford and Cambridge been doing this for centuries?

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:52:04

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

Clearly some do, or otherwise the matter wouldn't arise. It's not just Muslims, either: there are going to be similar people in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.

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

No one's suggesting you shouldn't. This isn't about lectures held as part of the university's educational activities.

The issue is about when rooms are hired or booked by societies, societies which may restrict admission to their own members. If those members decide to turn left or right upon entering the room, based on their gender, and none of them object (and "doesn't object" is obviously not the same as "is happy with it"), is that something in which the university authorities should take an interest? And what are the unintended consequences to other organisations, not fronted by bearded extremists, who might find themselves being disrupted by inter alia those self-same bearded extremists.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:52:27

Segregated lectures?
Nope, some of the colleges were single sex, but lectures and seminars weren't closed to the opposite sex.

Somehow separating women from men sounds less awful than it should. As if people complaining are just being fussy. If anyone's in any doubt about why this is bad try picturing a sign saying "blacks this way =>"

On the subject of self-segregation I see a problem too. It's all very well saying that woman might happen to sit on one side of the room, just by chance, but we know that if we're not careful how we phrase any rules that could become a loophole.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 21:56:19

It's also the acceptance of segregation that needs to be challenged.
When I taught in a school with a 99.9% Muslim intake, if I let pupils sit where they liked, I'd have
a group of Pakistani girls
a group of Pakistani boys
a group of Bengali boys
a group of Bengali girls

every single time, every day. Because that was how the world worked for them.

BrickorCleat Sat 14-Dec-13 21:59:00

It's not complex. It is sexism pure and simple.

We should not be giving public platforms to anyone who makes such archaic demands.

If there were signs saying 'whites only' or 'Jews at the back' there would rightly be an outcry.

I do not know a single (female, educated, liberal) Muslim who defends this practise.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 21:59:12

I think Universities UK were being disingenuous when they talked about 'voluntary' segregation. Because I doubt very much that a woman who walked into a segregated meeting and went to sit on the men's side would be able to do so without a hostile reaction.

It's not just forcing women to the back of the room, either. Heard a discussion on the radio with a Muslim (female) student pointing out she's been at events where women have been told they can only submit questions in writing. Men can talk, men can ask questions, but women have to be silent. How the hell this that allowed in a supposedly civilised Western democracy?

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:02:48

On the subject of self-segregation I see a problem too.

Should someone burst into Costa whenever the nice girls from the med school are sat around discussing prom dresses, or whatever it is med school girls discuss, and insist that if they don't have at least one man on their table they can drink their coffee elsewhere? Whenever Chinese students gather in exclusively Chinese groups, not speaking English, they should be forced to include at least one home student on pain of not being allowed to buy overpriced sandwiches in the campus food outlets?

Are you seriously suggesting that people should not be allowed to decide who to sit with at lunch, say, for fear diversity targets aren't being met?

It's all very well saying that woman might happen to sit on one side of the room, just by chance

It wouldn't be by chance. It would be by choice. This isn't some sort of care home for the vulnerable, it's a university where as a starting supposition the students and staff can be assumed to be capable of independent thought. Whom are you attempting to protect, and from what? A group of women decide that they want to sit separate from men. Are you saying that they shouldn't be allowed to, because you're worried that they might be being secretly forced into it against their will? Isn't that exactly the "ban the burqua" narrative (they may say it's a choice, but we white people know that they're misguided and should be protected from themselves)?

I find the absolutely abhorrent behaviour of extremists just as unpleasant as you do. But essentially telling people that they're not allowed to follow the precepts of theologies we don't like because, well, because we know better, is hardly a liberal position.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 22:04:00

'How the hell this that allowed in a supposedly civilised Western democracy?'

Good question.

dreamingofsun Sat 14-Dec-13 22:10:14

I don't agree with this either. surely on this basis, women only swimming lessons in public swimming pools should also be banned?

dreamingofsun Sat 14-Dec-13 22:10:46

sorry meant to say 'sessions' not 'lessons'

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:11:28

Men can talk, men can ask questions, but women have to be silent. How the hell this that allowed in a supposedly civilised Western democracy?

Perhaps you could ask a woman bishop in the CofE to comment. No, hang on a sec...

People can follow whatever theology they like. They just can't impose it on others. The speaker can say whatever they like but they cannot order women (or black people, or disabled etc. etc. etc.) to the back of the room.

Same principle as the Christian B&B case - the B&B owners are free to think whatever they like about homosexuality, but they are not free to discriminate against gay customers.

Friday, there is now a woman Anglican bishop - was appointed last week. Sadly not in England, think it was Scotland.

dreamingofsun Sat 14-Dec-13 22:15:14

But that is slightly different - one is religious whereas the female segregation we are discussing is in a public, non religious building. So its a civil issue which should be covered by our laws and so sex descrimination should not be allowed.

Though I agree woman should be bishops and popes.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:16:09

It doesn't make it right Friday

Friday, I didn't actually have in mind forcing people to mix together at gunpoint. I'm suggesting that if we lay out guidelines we should be careful how we phrase them because for example: "no one complained when we told them we'd prefer them to sit in different areas" is not quite the same as "anyone can sit where they like"

But as for "telling people that they're not allowed to follow the precepts of theologies we don't like" which way will you vote on the plan to allow human sacrifice in public areas?

If someone's religion is at odds with the law than let them take it up with god because I'm not interested in bending the law to suit them.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:17:14

You'd hop things were improving for women in this country

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:20:50

In terms of swimming - I have a choice segregated or not, it's my choice. There is no choice in the lecture scenario

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:22:04

In you live in a reasonable sized city, there will be at least one Christian sect meeting in a school hall near you that holds to "male headship". Those buildings are at least as "publicly funded" as universities and, unlike in meetings held on campus, they'll be preaching to and influencing children as well.

In you live in a reasonable sized city, there will be at least one Jewish ultra-orthodox community, stringing eruvs, engaging in sexual segregation in education and elsewhere and imposing rigid constraints on women including their ability to speak in worship (if they're even allowed to attend at the same time). They'll operate that segregation in education, too.

The views on woman (and gays) of these sects will be at least as hardline as the televisual and politically colourful Muslim extremists, and the argument that women experience either false consciousness or brainwashing in order to take part in them is at least as applicable.

They'll have a presence on campus, too, at any sufficiently large university. They'll rent rooms, hold meetings and generally make a nuisance of themselves continue their activities on campus.

It's worth considering why this entire debate is framed in terms of Islam.

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:23:47

There is no choice in the lecture scenario

What "lecture scenario". No one, not even the nuttiest panderer, is suggest this applies to the activities of the university itself.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:26:12

Ok 'talk' then hmm

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:31:03

Friday, there is now a woman Anglican bishop - was appointed last week. Sadly not in England, think it was Scotland.

Ireland.

There's actually been Anglican women bishops for a lot longer, as the first was in Massachusetts about twenty years ago, and the Presiding Bishop of the The Episcopal Church in the US (their arm of Anglicanism) is Katherine Jefferts Schori. The CofE, when the matter was last put to the vote, opposed women bishops. Cameron muttered vaguely, but the CofE shows no sign of changing its mind without a fight.

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