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.

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.

ParcelFancy Sat 14-Dec-13 22:31:40

I do not frame the debate in terms of Islam.

And I was livid about the behaviour of the Glasgow students as well.

BrickorCleat Sat 14-Dec-13 22:32:55

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.

backonly for attorney general.

Well said.

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

This came up because of an actual incident which led to guidelines which seemed to make matters worse. You'll have to ask the Muslim speaker in question why he chose to make it an issue that day.

Do you think in the interest of free speech we should allow women to be segregated or not.

specialsubject Sat 14-Dec-13 22:35:33

utterly abhorrent. These extremists are doing so much harm to the perception of Islam.

if they want somewhere with Sharia law, there are plenty of places. We should offer to pay their airfare if they leave their passports.

ParcelFancy Sat 14-Dec-13 22:39:05

Anyway, how is this even "the debate"?

WTF?

In the 1930s novel Gaudy Night about Oxford, Sayers has one of her characters mention "the woman question" - to be shot down with the retort, ""Surely it isn't still a question."

How can we be in 2013 and there be a question?

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:39:46

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.

An argument which would have more force if there were a law being broken in any of these cases. The debate only arrises because it isn't illegal.

Many synagogues have sexually segregated seating, separated by a Mechitza. Do you think (a) that that is illegal (b) that that should be illegal (c) something else?

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:40:53

if they want somewhere with Sharia law, there are plenty of places. We should offer to pay their airfare if they leave their passports.

Are you going to throw Jews out as well? That might have, well, resonances.

ParcelFancy Sat 14-Dec-13 22:43:12

I'm not keen on the segregated synagogue either.

I'm prepared to look at things which only occur during active worship, which stop as soon as you walk out of the place of worship, essentially as part of the ritual, slightly differently from things which continue into every day life.

But I'm still not keen.

ParcelFancy Sat 14-Dec-13 22:44:24

In fact, if it's only some but not all synagogues which have segregation, I'm really very unimpressed indeed, as it suggests it's not a religious requirement even during worship.

harticus Sat 14-Dec-13 22:48:36

The Al Madinah free school in Derby was closed down partly for its insistence in separating genders in class and canteen.
Girls were made to sit at the back of the class.

Gove has just rubber stamped 6 new Islamic free schools.

If we allow religion to play such a substantial role in primary and secondary education then is it really surprising that people have expectations of having their beliefs accommodated at a tertiary level?

All education should be entirely secular.

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 22:49:29

I think that one of the differences is that Judaism does not actively seek converts, unlike Christianity and Islam. So the imposition of Sharia law is seen as more of a threat, how would it impact on non-Muslims.
How would you feel having your Christmas party in Brick Lane, and a festive glass?
How much disruption did the N London eruv cause, and what was it's impact on non-Jewish, or non-Orthodox Jews? Have you even heard of it?

SilverApples Sat 14-Dec-13 22:50:29

Apologies for the rogue apostrophe. Alcohol has been taken. fgrin

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 23:04:00

The Al Madinah free school in Derby was closed down partly for its insistence in separating genders in class and canteen.

It hasn't been closed down, although it only seems a matter of time.

This new discovery that sexual segregation in schools is illegal is going to come as a surprise to all those single-sex schools, especially to those on shared sites with some shared buildings.

friday16 Sat 14-Dec-13 23:05:21

In fact, if it's only some but not all synagogues which have segregation, I'm really very unimpressed indeed, as it suggests it's not a religious requirement even during worship.

Hot news: there are differences of doctrine between denominations in the same broad religion.

Ubik1 Sat 14-Dec-13 23:07:24

I really dislike the argumebt that x,y,z do it - DP why complain when someone else does it.

If you are Muslim/Jewish/Christian and you go to a place of worship you expect to conform to some customs even if they are medieval enough to segregate men and women.

When you go to university and decide to go to an e tea curricular 'talk' you should be able to sit with your male pal. You may even have had a couple of drinks. And be wearing a short skirt. You may decide to kiss your girlfriend and hold her hand.

Because this is a university which welcomes everyone and treats them equally.

ParcelFancy Sat 14-Dec-13 23:12:19

Hotter news: still unimpressed.

As with my own deeply divided childhood religion, seeing which bits different branches highlight and their specific interpretations, tells you reyther a lot about them - and more about the people who actively chose those branches.

friday, I thought the CofE had moved on women bishops and is closer to agreement on the issue? Do you think it's still as bad as when the last vote was lost?

And yes, I know about the US, but the fact we have a woman Anglican bishop in the British Isles is A Good Thing. Let's hope there are plenty more to come.

I think there is a difference between segregation in a place of worship and in the public realm. I'd rather there was no 'women at the back of the room' anywhere, tbh, but when it escapes from a house of worship into the street, the lecture theatre, or any other public place it is time to say 'enough' very loudly.

I believe there are Muslim women who are pointing out that it is wrong that some mosques do not allow women across the threshold, btw.

yellowGiraffe8 Sat 14-Dec-13 23:15:03

Yanbu

I'm not sure what the arguments were for single-sex schools, but I think we all know they were not the same reason Al Madinah free school was putting girls at the back.

harticus Sat 14-Dec-13 23:34:44

not the same reason Al Madinah free school was putting girls at the back

Yup.
Or compelling female staff to wear headscarves.
Hardly comparable to a handful of selective single sex grammars in the shires .....

Has anyone asked Malala Yousafzai what she thinks of all this? I wonder if she will sit happily and demurely at the back because she's a girly?

MadAsFish Sun 15-Dec-13 00:05:42

All education should be entirely secular.

Welcome to France.

runs away

MadAsFish Sun 15-Dec-13 00:06:56

(and yes, I know we have religious schools as well, but our government schools are very, very strict about the laïque thing)

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 00:14:12

friday, I thought the CofE had moved on women bishops and is closer to agreement on the issue? Do you think it's still as bad as when the last vote was lost?

Well, let's consider the sort of people the General Synod of the C of E has in it today. Who's out there preaching fire and brimstone to encourage countries which still criminalise homosexuality to keep it that way? Step forward, Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder of Christian Concern and member of synod for the Diocese of Chichester, who said this week that "They hate the line of homosexuality being linked to pedophilia. They try to cut that off, so you can’t speak about it, So I say to you in Jamaica: Speak about it. Speak about it.” See here for the grim details.

That deafening silence you can hear is other members of the General Synod of the Church of England being absolutely supine about this issue, especially as GAFCON have issued a similarly fire and brimstone response to Pilling. The CofE's synod is a bunch of homophobic bigots and people who are relaxed about homophobia, so they'll continue to be silent about this sort of shit for fear of upsetting Africa.

The CofE claims to be "moving forward" on women bishops. It "moves forward" by doing fuck all while promising reform one day. Instead of kicking up a fuss about the cranky behaviour of a few obnoxious headbangers renting rooms in universities (who, to reiterate, I think are obnoxious nutters) Cameron could threaten to have nothing to do with the CofE until it sorted out its position on equal marriage and equal appointment to the house of bishops. But he'd prefer to put the boot in on a handful of fringe nutters who don't matter, rather than deal with institutional sexism and homophobia in the established church.

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 00:22:49

not the same reason Al Madinah free school was putting girls at the back Yup. Or compelling female staff to wear headscarves. Hardly comparable to a handful of selective single sex grammars in the shires .....

Seriously? The Al Madinah school has 400 pupils, nearly fifty of whom have left in the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, every city has a massive estate of non-selective single sex state schools. It's not remotely "a handful of selective single sex grammars in the shires". Pick a random London borough. Hackney, you say? Clapton Girl's Academy. Where do the chattering classes congregate? Islington. Ah yes: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Highbury Fields (both nominally non-religious) and Mount Carmel Girls (RC). Single sex education is wildly popular and provided by the state on a scale which causes a failing 400-place school in Derby to be entirely insignificant.

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 00:24:02

Has anyone asked Malala Yousafzai what she thinks of all this?

You mean Malala Yousafzai who attends Edgbaston High School for Girls, a single-sex school in Birmingham, or some other one who is all co-ed and shit?

Earningsthread Sun 15-Dec-13 00:35:48

I am not aware of any form of organised religion that does not discriminate against women, to a greater or lesser extent. In my view all education at every level should be secular and should not pander to lunatics.

Caitlin17 Sun 15-Dec-13 00:39:21

Friday16 I'm finding it difficult to follow where you are going with all this. The issue over schools seems quite simple to me. It is lawful to have single sex schools.

The university is not catering to one sex only and it is outrageous a guest speaker should demand the sexes be segregated.

Your point about breaking up single sex / single race groups in Costa was ridiculous.

ShinyBlackNose Sun 15-Dec-13 00:52:02

Op you are not being unreasonable. It is outrageous to think that anyone could have considered requiring the separation of men and women attending a public lecture in a public place.

When I heard a snippet of a radio debate about this topic earlier today certain callers agreed with the segregation whole heartedly. The callers seemed to think if men and women sit together at a lecture they will be so overcome with lust that they wouldn't be able to concentrate.

But isn't it the case that what the beardy bastards want is for private, ex-curricular, religious meetings to be segregated? How can this be dealt with legally without it leading to women-only groups (eg for DV survivors) also being closed down or penalised. I mean, the ethical argument for women-only groups/events is easy enough - members of the non-dominant class need safe spaces and all that - but how can the law be adapted to allow safe spaces but prevent exclusion?

redshifter Sun 15-Dec-13 01:13:05

What if the meeting was renamed a religious meeting? Would that be ok?

What if they had a male area, a female area and a mixed sex area in the middle? Then women who wanted to sit with just women could do so and those who wanted to sit with males could make their own choice also.
Would people have a problem with this?

Genuine questions. I would like to know what people think.

Also, if the segregation was entirely voluntary, a man could sit on the female side and vice versa. How could this be illegal?

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 01:18:48

Caitlin, if your benchmark for acceptability is legality, and therefore single sex schools are OK because they're legal, precisely what legislation do you think makes it illegal for a university to provide a room to an external speaker who is not affiliated with the university who then asks that attendees at a private event remain sexually segregated? Because so far as anyone knows, it's perfectly legal to do that. Private events certainly aren't subject to the provisions of the sex discrimination act, for any number of reasons.

My point about Costa is that it's being further claimed that it's wrong when there is voluntary segregation. Could you please explain how the police (it needs to be the police, because people want things to be illegal) should distinguish between voluntary segregation in Costa, where a table of men and a table of women are sat drinking coffee, and the nasty bad voluntary segregation that you want stamped out?

While we're in there, we might "people on the football pitches playing sexually segregated football", and how that differs. It happens in universities, too, you know.

Look, yet again: although I think racist, sexist and homophobic extremists are bad people with bad ideas, and that people who attend their meetings are bad people. Incidentally, it's not quite being explained why women who attend speeches by racist, sexist and homophobic preachers who enforce segregation are victims rather than participants, and there's a very interesting narrative in quite why they aren't being equally criticised for being there in the first place. It doesn't matter if the BNP segregate meetings by race or not, people who attend meetings of the BNP are still racists; why are women who attend segregated lectures by sexists seen as victims of the segregation, and not supporters of the event?

But this is a tiny problem. There are a handful of such meetings, and the people who are complaining about them are hardly doing so out of high-minded principle. The preachers in question are largely scum, their ideas loathsome and their audience largely enthusiastic about those ideas. There are no innocent, downtrodden women being segregated at these meetings: these are meetings by extremists, and everyone present knows the score before they turn up. The ideas should be confronted and challenged. Arguing the toss about the seating arrangements is the least of the issues. Either ignore them, or confront their repulsive ideas. If the audience at a speech by one of the several Hizb-ut-Tarir fronts were integrated, the speech would still be as nasty.

MistressDeeCee Sun 15-Dec-13 01:20:50

YANBU. It is outrageous. This is the UK, can you imagine going to Islamic countries and trying to impose Christian ideals? The UK government bend over backwards to accommodate this kind of thing. So..if someone challenges this using UK equality laws - what then? If Islamic students are that fussed about this thing they should be studying in their own countries. Then again UK Unis etc court foreign students because they need the fees they pay, to keep going. The segregation stance is indefensible - I dont care how many longwinded explanations are put forward to defend it. Nowhere in history has segregation led to a good outcome. Its shameful that this is allowable, Im particularly surprised its at the LSE. & Im not British - just in case Im coming across as 'all things British only'

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 01:28:56

How can this be dealt with legally without it leading to women-only groups (eg for DV survivors) also being closed down or penalised.

It can't. And for bonus points, the people who would be on the receiving end of nice, Guardian-style legislation to outlaw sexual discrimination in room bookings are the same people who would have a pretty bad reaction to women-only safe spaces. So if the university were forced to exclude beardy extremists and their strange views, the chances are that the same people (or their supporters) would make life very difficult for other, legitimate, groups.

So far as I can tell, the alleged problem is this.

An Islamic extremist, whose views on women, homosexuals, apostates and other predictable hot topics would be repulsive to most decent people books a room on campus.

People who want to attend his talk, presumably people who are supportive of his views on women, homosexuals, apostates and so on, are asked to remain sexual segregated.

Why do I give a shit about the seating arrangements at such a meeting? All the attendees are supporters of loathsome discriminatory politics, because decent people wouldn't be there in the first place. References to how "moderate Muslims" don't advocate such segregation is no more relevant than pointing out that the members of the local Glee club don't either; neither group is likely to want to attend anyway. Anyone who does attend has signed up for the discrimination.

So the end result is that a loathsome speaker with hideous ideas attracts an audience of supporters of those hideous ideas, and they segregate themselves by gender. So what? They knew the score when they turned up.

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 01:37:29

If Islamic students are that fussed about this thing they should be studying in their own countries. Then again UK Unis etc court foreign students because they need the fees they pay, to keep going.

This isn't anything to do with foreign students. I will be willing to stand you a round of drinks next time you're in a student union building where this is a live issue if you can find more than 1% of attendees at an extremist meeting, or any of Yasmin A-B's "Muslim clothes vigilantes", who don't have British passports. This whole affair is about excessive fervour amongst home Muslim students. There is no suggestion that "Islamic Students", if by that you mean students from countries where Islam is the dominant religion, are attempting to impose, or indeed are fussed about, any of this. It's nothing to do with "foreign students" and their "fees", because all the people involved are home students.

See also, "who is it who is kicking up a fuss about having to examine patients of the opposite sex in medical schools?" Because it sure as hell isn't overseas students: at the fees they're paying, they can't afford to miss a moment's teaching.

ravenAK Sun 15-Dec-13 01:55:44

I'm mostly with friday16 on this one. Well argued & articulate posts.

I think you could make an argument for saying that organisers of a meeting open to both male & female members of the public should not be allowed to enforce or even request segregated seating, but if it's an agreed thing amongst attendees then I can't see how you can effectively rule against it.

I get that we mix children up in the classroom, but the attendees of these events are adults. Different scenario entirely.

I don't think that gender segregation is at all a good thing, at a meeting, a lecture, a debate, or pretty much in any other event open to the public. So I wouldn't attend a meeting arranged by an organisation or individual whose discriminatory views were a key part of the discourse. But if I did subscribe to those views, presumably I'd prefer to sit separately from the opposite gender.

Uncomfortable though it is, I don't see how you can stop people from being told where to sit by, erm, telling them where to sit.

I think the key issue is whether or not these events are part of the curriculum. If they are events which students need to attend because attendance is necessary for the courses they are on, then the segregation is unacceptable, just as it would be unacceptable for someone to demand that passengers on a bus are segregated - you don't own the bus, other people are under no obligation to respect your superstitions. However, if these meetings are arranged by and for a social group on the campus, then it's up to them what they do (within reason - human sacrifice or defecating on the carpet or whatever in hired premises should be prohibited.)

MistressDeeCee Sun 15-Dec-13 03:00:09

friday16 - since you addressed me: I am not about to condone segregation in any form or fashion. It is abhorrent to me. I don't care if it involves 5 people pushing for it, or 100. It is wrong, no good ever comes of segregation anywhere in history.

I am not suddenly going to like this situation just because nowadays it seems you are deemed anti-Islam simply because you feel a particular practice is wrong; similarly its blithely assumed that if you dislike a particular situation or practice, then clearly you can't possibly have the wherewithal to know 1 size does not fit all, & what is perpetuated by some in the name of Islam is not necessarily perpetuated by all.

Now in this instance - for me, those students enacting segregation are wrong. There are some practices, laws in my home country that I doubt would be acceptable here. However I would not expect them to be - I am not in my home country and if certain 'home' ways were that important to me - then, I certainly wouldn't be here. Added to that I don't care what people do at home or in their own social and religious groups. But I DO care when its at an institution such as the LSE.

Sadly its a subject many will tiptoe around for fear of causing offence, or appearing to be non-pc, or being flamed on Mumsnet. None of which I could care less about. My view is that segregation is wrong. Along with everybody else I am perfectly entitled to my view regarding a Post put up in Mumsnet.

I'm generally not interested in targetting/1-1 screen convos. I've seen they can too often descend into a goady mess and the subject of the original post becomes buried in the mire.

redshifter Sun 15-Dec-13 03:16:23

MistressDeeCee. I understand your point but saying this - If Islamic students are that fussed about this thing they should be studying in their own countries. - about British students is not very helpful in my opinion.

And as for - This is the UK, can you imagine going to Islamic countries and trying to impose Christian ideals? - I don't want the UK to be as prohibitve as some Islamic countries with regard to freedom of speech and expression thanks. Isn't that sort of the point?

MistressDeeCee Sun 15-Dec-13 03:50:48

redshifter I appreciate that point may not sound very helpful to you - however it is how I feel about the practice of segregation.

It is in no way prohibitive to dis-allow the practice of segregation and I cannot see any basis for the justification of it. At all. I actually find it disengenious to bring forth a myriad of arguments (for want of a better word) to justify segregation.

If people are within their own religious/social groups and this is what they practice well then, that could be another debate. My point is - don't bring any form of segregation to the LSE/Universities.

On the other hand it could be the case that we should turn a blind eye, let them get on with it, its nobody's business. I do have a feeling this may be the general consensus however ignoring this sort of thing is wrong, imo.I am vaguely wondering whether there are single-sex universities in the UK...

ravenAK Sun 15-Dec-13 04:21:44

But they aren't actually bringing any sort of segregation to the LSE/Universities, from what I understand - these are extracurricular, voluntary affairs presented by outside speakers.

I agree with SGB's earlier post re: it hinging on whether these events are part of the curriculum.

If so, then it's not on that a student has to attend as part of their course & then has to sit with his/her own gender group - fair enough, down with that sort of thing!

But if you have a visiting speaker offering a non-curriculum talk, & 50 men & 50 women have freely chosen to attend the event & spend their own time listening to what that speaker has to say, & they are sitting on opposite sides of the room to hear it, & none of those 100 people wants to change this arrangement - well, how exactly do you resolve that?

OK, for me, if I walked in & saw that seating arrangement, it would immediately flag up that I was unlikely to be in sympathy with many of this group's views. & there's a definite argument for no-one present being allowed to tell me I couldn't join the gentlemen if I so chose.

I'm just not convinced that legislation can effectively march up to those 100 adults who know exactly where they want to sit & announce: 'Right you lot. New seating plan. Boy-girl, boy-girl.' as if they're a naughty year 8 class.

MistressDeeCee Sun 15-Dec-13 06:23:52

The events are taking place at the LSE. I don't believe they are in line with the education ethos of the LSE/university education here. Its inappropriate and sends out a dubious message.

But still - if its that people want to be segregated and that's absolutely fine, its their right and their choice, then this was clearly a non-issue in the 1st place hence, who am I to dissent <<exits thread to the left..

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 15-Dec-13 06:32:08

Just some thoughts on this.

Islamic societies, like any other uni group do not get to invite anyone they wish to speak, if a proposed speaker is deemed to contravene university policies, they will not be allowed to speak and this happened only recently. Likewise certain organisations are banned on campus.

The event that sparked the segregation issue was a debate held at UCL bebetween atheists and Muslims (so again, not a hotbed of bearded extremists saying terrible things).

This event had men only seating on one side, women only seating on the other side with mixed seating in the middle.

However, three men took it upon themselves to protest against the segregated seating by sitting in the women's section and objected when they were asked to move (obviously this is not at all male entitlement and the Muslim women should've felt grateful for the men wanting to liberate them). The fall out from this has lead to the UK university guidelines and the current debate.

In my experience, a high proportion of Islamic society events, particularly the social ones tend to be either self segregated (so not officially allocated areas), or parallel events are held for men and women. Btw, the busiest time of year for Islamic societies is Ramadan, when they hold evening prayer sessions and iftars (meals to break the fast) which are often open to all, again not really acts of bearded extremism.

So I think segregation bans would be very hard to police and they absolutely would be used as an excuse by certain groups (MRA's, racists) for there to be no women only groups, no women of colour only groups, etc.

Eebahgum Sun 15-Dec-13 06:38:06

From what I can see, most people are arguing the same debate from two sides. The issue is freedom of choice. Of course we are not going to expect single sex groups in costa coffee to mix with the opposite sex, but neither are we going to tell a husband and wife they must sit at separate tables. I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) that this debate is public knowledge because someone had a problem with it and went to the press. If everyone at the event was happy with single sex seating how would we even know about it. An adult should be able to choose where to sit. If they choose to sit in a single sex group there is not a problem. If they are made to sit in a single sex group when they would like to sit elsewhere there is a problem. Children have decisions made for them by responsible adults (usually parents) and the same rule can apply. Girl's and boy's schools exist so people can choose to educate their children that way if they want to. But the vast majority of parents choose not to and also have freedom of choice to send their child to a mixed sex school.

Eebahgum Sun 15-Dec-13 06:49:05

Thanks for the detail goshannegorilla. I'd wrongly assumed the debate involved a woman being told she couldn't sit with a male friend. Now, although I believe the men involved had the right to choose to sit in the women only section, this is at odds with the right of the women to choose where to sit. So I see its not as straightforward as saying everyone can do what they like.

ravenAK Sun 15-Dec-13 06:55:52

I definitely don't think it's a non-issue! Or absolutely fine that anyone in the C21st century is choosing segregation. Agree completely it's not in line with the modern University ethos.

But Cameron willy-waving about how 'Universities should not allow this' does rather raise the question of how, precisely, you un-allow it, without descending into farce, & more importantly, perhaps blocking (eg) women's groups set up to support specific issues & needs.

It's just today's pointless soundbite - completely impractical. He'll be after banning the Interwebs again next week wink.

joben Sun 15-Dec-13 08:14:57

is anyone going to respond to Friday's point about women only spaces being appropriate for rape survivors/domestic violence survivors at a seminar where this is the topic of discussion or is everyone going to assume that the only scenario where this may be requested is from Islamic extremists?

I am generally against segregation on the basis of supposed religious doctrine, but I also know that women who have been 'conditioned' to believe they cannot speak up/make a contribution to a debate in a mixed gender space will be alienated from discussion/education if they are not allowed to have women only spaces. Unfortunately bigoted attitudes do not change over night or through legislation, and women themselves may (as usual) be the prime losers if Universities insist on mixed audiences for all events.

Ubik1 Sun 15-Dec-13 09:44:29

What about if I want to go to this talk with a male friend and sit with them?

If a speaker prescribes in advance that men and women should sit seperately -then that is wrong. It is nonsense.

Women in this country battled fir their rights. It is only 100 years ago that they were allowed to attend lectures at all.

Ubik1 Sun 15-Dec-13 09:58:49

Also these are lectures by invited speakers -so they may be part of the lecture or debate or ...sorry...'talk' but they may be the sort if thing your tutor says oh 'so and do us coming to talk about his position on goats -if you gave time you should go...

If men and women automatically segregate then I doubt university is going to insist they sit boy, girl, boy ,girl

But Seperate entrances for a 'talk' ? Give me a break

The many Muslim parents at our school cope fine well without segregation for school shows/events. Everyone sits together and has a fine old time. This is normal! I believe cannot allow extreme Muslims to dictate where I can sit if I want to hear them speak. What about the Muslim women who want to sit where they damn well like? What about the women fir whom university represents some liberation? As usual it seems the women should just suck it up so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of a male speaker.

I'm actually shocked that some posters are supporting this..

Knottyknitter Sun 15-Dec-13 11:35:51

I was at university about 15 years ago.

There was a (very old) society which functioned much as an old fashioned all-male drinking/charity fundraising club. Women had always been excluded, and said organisation had its students union registration and by extension ability to hire university or union rooms or equipment stopped. This was before I was at the university, but it still ran as a popular enterprise amongst a certain type of male student. If I remember rightly, they were all very posh, very white and very mysogynistic. They had to be posh though, to have the mummy and daddy funding to rent town buildings at full market rate.

I would suggest that inviting women only was ok if the purpose of the event required it.

If I ran a chess club I could say I only wanted people there who play chess.

If I were making a film about say slavery in the US I would expect to be able to specify black actors for certain roles and white actors for others.

If I ran a class related to pregnancy then yes I could specify women only.

There are situations where the color, gender or skill are themselves significant to the purpose of the event.

But then I can't say "no black chess players" because the color isn't relevant to the chess playing. Nor is deciding where the audience sit relevant to someone giving a lecture/speech.

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 11:49:25

but they may be the sort if thing your tutor says oh 'so and do us coming to talk about his position on goats -if you gave time you should go...

They really aren't. These events are nothing to do with the academic life of the university.

Let's lay out the issues, because there seems to be huge confusion here.

In the manner of a sea shanty, you can imagine a chorus in which I sing "I don't approve of any of these people because they are fascist, bigoted extremists whom no-one decent should associate with, and the presence of these ideas in this country is a massive problem which should be confronted wherever it arises" in between each paragraph, to save me the effort of ritual condemnation every sentence, yes?

Y A-B are posters here are conflating two problems.

The first is that a very small number of extremists in, particularly, London universities are haranguing what me might call "visible Muslims" and demanding that they be more fundamentalist. In the manner of the "Muslim Patrol" they are approaching female students in lectures and making demands of them about dress and "mixing". No-one, repeat, no-one has any doubt that this is completely unacceptable, and universities can, will and do take disciplinary action.

The second is that ISOC-affiliated campus associations, and others, are holding meetings on campuses which they want to be sexual segregated. The speakers at these events are firebrand radicals who challenge the limits of "conducive to the public good" visas. They want space on campus either because they are, in fact, campus associations, or because the spurious credibility of the event happening at a university is attractive to them. The provision of these rooms is the subject of this debate,

People who are talking about "their countries" and "foreign students" and "I wouldn't go there and..." are talking out of ignorance. Neither of these problems are associated with overseas students. The student organisations involved are populated almost exclusively by second and third generation British Muslims for whom their parents' and grandparents' assimilation is a step too far and therefore they want to adopt a more "authentic" (and I can't stress how scare those scare-quotes are) Islam than the "compromised" (ditto) version their parents and grandparents practice. Students from Wahhabi-influenced countries rarely come to the UK and those that do are mostly very pleased to escape the constraints of their home countries and in many cases move away from those religious barriers and refuse to be bound by them. And of course, those that have, or come from families with, strong objections to Western decadence don't come to the UK to study anyway. This is a British problem, made in Britain, with most of the actors being British. Just as campus Trots of yore were fonder of communism than people who actually lived under it, the noisy Islamists all have British passports.

Put aside the "Muslim Patrol" type bigots. They're not a new problem, as anyone who's every been around a Christian Union and had to deal with biblical literalist entryists will attest; many campus CUs are now very much dominated by fundamentalists. If they get out of line they will be disciplined and/or arrested, and they are a tiny, tiny problem. There are occasional rows on my campus about alcohol in SU events, for example, but they are resolved very quickly with little or no compromise. Unlike at one school no-one is suggesting that non-Muslims should modify their behaviour, nor that a self-appointed group of hardliners should be able to intimidate moderates.

The issue of people wanting to rent rooms is the big one. Pace whoever said upthread that organisations that breach university policies can't obtain rooms, many universities (I'm thinking particularly of UCL, which is the centre of a lot of these problems) take free-speech very seriously. The idea that universities should pre-screen speakers is anathema to what a university is, and unless the university has clear and immediate reason to believe that violence is going to ensue, it can be argued that universities should stay out of the issue. Gender segregation is extremely unpleasant, and if it results in violence should not be permitted; however, no university would or should have a problem with renting a room to a DV survivor group, a rape survivor group, a Lesbian support group or, indeed, the women's hockey team. STEM departments, particularly the T and the E, have semi-official women's groups, too, and again no-one seriously suggests they shouldn't.

So we're left with the problem of University-affiliated clubs and societies using their right to book rooms, and then suggesting, offering or imposing gender segregation on the audience. The audience is largely, of course, supportive: why would people who are not supporters of fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam be attending a meeting on the topic? This all slightly smacks of the patronising protection of innocent young Muslim women who need big strong white people to stand up for them: who exactly is it who is going to these meetings and then finding to their horror and distaste that sexual segregation is in force? How many in the audience don't worship at least weekly in a mosque with precisely the same precepts?

As I said at the outset, I think the whole situation is deeply dispiriting, and the speakers involved are obnoxious, violent and bigoted. But I don't think much to Nigel Farage, either, and the gap from "I would not attend a speech, nor would I want to associate with anyone who does" and "these people should be banned" is a wide one. The victims of the segregation largely don't exist or aren't very sympathetic characters (who are the women who want to attend meetings by fascist bigots but whose rights of free-association at those meetings need to be defended?), the unintended consequences of a policy of gender integration for campus room bookings are significant (someone upthread mentioned Mens Rights Activists: there are enough tossers on campus who might use challenges under such rules as a weapon against women that it cannot be discounted as a risk) and the problem isn't that big to start with.

Cameron's grandstanding. There's a whiff of racism in the air. There aren't any actual victims. The problem isn't large. Leaving well alone is the best policy, and the Universities UK proposal was pretty decent.

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 12:02:06

Hmm. That was long.

tl;dr: "they're British, there aren't many of them, their audience are as unpleasant as they are, unintended consequences, deeply unpleasant, deeply regrettable, --let the cunts get on with it--"

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Dec-13 12:09:37

BackOnlyBriefly

Would you say the same for men only groups?

Ubik1 Sun 15-Dec-13 12:28:15

And racism trumps sexism at every turn, doesn't it.

Yes there are fundamentalist Muslim speakers in the same vein as fundamentalist Christian groups or whatever - do we just shrug and go to the pub? Is that the answer?

This has been going on fir a long time in universities - along with male-only dinners, shouting down young women and sexually harassing them. It goes on in 'strong white' hmm circles too.

This is not just about Muslims, it is not about 'them' it is about 'us' as a community, Muslim and whatever else, and what we are prepared to tolerate in the context of women's rights in a higher ed institution across the board.

Because one day those men and women will be in positions of power

caroldecker Sun 15-Dec-13 12:39:49

Anyone saying these should be allowed if the attendees agree might like to consider where they stand on female genital mutation. This is normally practiced by women who have also suffered it because they have been brainwashed educated this is right. Many muslim girls are in this positon and we, as a Western liberal state, have to challenge this. It is this 'respect' for 'cultural' values that causes so much continued suffering, particularly for women, in this country.

General Sir Charles James Napier, the Commander-in-Chief in India from 1859 to 1861 is often noted for a story involving Hindu priests complaining to him about the prohibition of sati by British authorities.
"Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs." [32]

BoneyBackJefferson It might have to if their sole purpose is associating with men (or women). After all if someone stipulated on a dating site that they only wanted to meet the opposite sex that wouldn't be sexist would it because that's the purpose of being there.

I don't want to see lots of men only or women only clubs personally, but I don't see how you can forbid them without compromising freedoms.

However they don't completely fit my argument as the women only groups I was thinking of would be things like rape/DV support which are not simply about not liking men.

Ubik1 Sun 15-Dec-13 12:52:35

It's not about banning clubs etc

It's about someone coming to a university to give a talk and insisting the audience is segregated according to gender.

That's all

paxtecum Sun 15-Dec-13 12:59:30

I know a 6th Form college that has a Common Room and a Girl's Only Common Room.

The boys aren't too impressed about it.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Dec-13 13:12:08

BackOnlyBriefly

I don't disagree.

But what about women only swimming sessions, gyms, common rooms.
Or not being able to run father and child days or running male only sessions because of complaints?

BoneyBackJefferson It's tricky isn't it. Unlike skin color and such there actually is a difference between men and women. Not in worth or rights of course, but it can actually matter to some people. Especially in a place where you will not be fully dressed. Someone of the opposite sex might be looking at you in a sexual way and this can be intimidating.

On the whole I'd say no to all of those though because they are divisive without achieving the desired result. After all some of those there might be homosexual and what day do transexual people swim? The whole thing becomes a farce and makes it difficult for some people to use the facilities at all.

redshifter Sun 15-Dec-13 14:24:37

Is it actually illegal for a female to use male toilets? Or is it just social convention and she wouldn't be breaking any law.
Is this segregation voluntary?

Is having different signs leading to different toilets for each sex illegal? Are they just suggesting which is culturally appropriate.

Are me and my partner legally allowed to go into the ladies toilets together?

I know these questions sound silly and are a totally different situation than this thread but I was just wondering about the actual laws on this sort of thing. Are there any laws already in place? Could we make some laws? Should we? How would we?

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 15-Dec-13 15:32:31

Friday - your repeated assertions that ISOC's are hotbeds of extremism attended by "cunts" are unfounded and very unpleasant.

"Wahabi" type extremism is far less popular in the UK then you suggest and it certainlycertainly does not have free reign on campus. ISOC's are generally very wary of what goes on. Also, I'm still waiting to hear why meals during Ramadan are so extremist.

ISOC's generally publish their schedules openly and have a very open door policy, so again, the idea that they are hate groups operating on campus under the guise of free speech is nonsense.

Carol - people sitting in different areas is nothing like FGM.

SilverApples Sun 15-Dec-13 15:52:27

Redshifter, I think that one of the fascinating things about a culture is how some conventions are so well-established that they become unwritten laws, and you only realise that when someone breaks 'the rule'
There may or may not be an actual law about single sex toilets, but when have we needed one?
Most people follow the conventions of their own society. which is why those who don't tend to cause shock, or be seen as radicals.

Sallyingforth Sun 15-Dec-13 16:06:53

There doesn't seem to be much choice about this..

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/12/14/article-0-1A1B55FA00000578-27_634x510.jpg

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 15-Dec-13 16:18:21

Where is that photo from? Prayer rooms on campus often have different entrances for men and women and are often signposted in such a fashion.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Dec-13 16:21:05

The thing is that if you block this where does it end?
SGB touched on it as has Backonly

How will people justify gender only sessions/areas/groups if this is stopped.

MadAsFish Sun 15-Dec-13 16:27:59

I think that's from the talk itself.

We should put that picture in a museum so that future generations can marvel at how primitive society was in the early 2,000s.

Sallyingforth Sun 15-Dec-13 16:29:52

Gosh It is attributed to the Guardian. The poster says where it is.
But why should such signs be instructing the sexes to be segregated?

BoneyBackJefferson are you really arguing for women only sessions for swimming and so on? If so when do you think transgender and homosexual people should swim?

If there is a good reason for something being women only or men only then it wouldn't be a problem would it. And if you don't have a reason why would you want it.

In the case of the speaker it's not essential to what he is doing to segregate so he is simply applying his personal rules to other people.

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 15-Dec-13 17:19:47

Sallying - did you read my post? Prayer rooms (rooms where Muslims go and pray) on campus often (but not always) have separate areas/entrances for men and women.

They also often have posters up advertising talks and events, hence why I thought it could be a picture of a prayer room. The link only goes to a photograph, not an article.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Dec-13 17:19:53

Backonlybriefly

I'm not arguing for women only swimming sessions (they do actually exist though as do women only gyms)

My point/question is where do you stop?

If separating the sexes/genders for learning purposes is wrong then do we ban single sex schools?

Or should we not teach children sex ed in single sex classes so that children can feel comfortable asking questions?

Someone posted about single sex toilets, in some schools they have trialled co-ed bathrooms is this wrong? (even though bullying has allegedly been reduced)

I have been stopped from organising a dads and children's event (cooking a breakfast for mother's day) because it was sexist not to include the mothers (I had organised a separate type of event for them).

I think that we are generally arguing the same point.

Ah I see yes. I got the wrong end of the stick there. smile

LoveSewingBee Sun 15-Dec-13 18:24:27

Ok, I had totally missed that it was about the London School of Economics. This explains quite a bit as they get huge donations from very unsavoury characters, like the son of Gaddhafi more or less in exchange for a PhD title, they also got large donations from the Saudi regime.

Also Oxford had large donations from the Iranian regime, Cambridge from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran.

Still, I think the head from Universities UK showed a total lack of judgement and the more I think of it, I think that she should resign.

Sallyingforth Sun 15-Dec-13 20:14:34

Yes Gosh I read your post. But the signs were clearly makeshift ones related to the activity advertised below.
But I am interested to know why separate entrances are necessary for prayer rooms. Can you advise me?

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 15-Dec-13 20:52:12

Signs in prayer rooms do tend to be of the makeshift variety, IME.

As to your question, because of the nature of Muslim prayer - bending down, prostrating, etc, men and women often prefer to pray separately, so the prayer space may be divided in two and each side may be accessed by a different entrance.

People may pray in a congregation, but often prayer rooms are just used for people to pray by themselves, so they just nip in and out.

Or there may be separate washing facilities for men and women to use prior to prayer. Separate facilities are preferred for this, as you need to wipe over your hair, so it's better to be somewhere where you can take your hijab off.

Sallyingforth Sun 15-Dec-13 22:36:30

Thank you Gosh. It seems very reasonable to have separate washing facilities.
Could you pray together though if you wish?

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 22:38:26

Anyone saying these should be allowed if the attendees agree might like to consider where they stand on female genital mutation.

Because the seating arrangements of adults who are enrolled on higher education courses are exactly comparable to violent abuse directed at children unable to give consent.

It's fortunate that vulnerable brown women have strong white women to protect them from themselves, isn't it?

Friday, it's perfectly valid to offer an extreme example in order to demonstrate the flaw in an argument. Pointing to the flaw ought to be enough, but it rarely is.

Ubik1 Sun 15-Dec-13 22:46:31

You're quite fond of the 'strong white/vulnerable brown' dichotomy aren't you, friday

I'm not sure what you mean by it though...do you mean that this is not the business of women with white skin?

What exactly do you mean??

friday16 Sun 15-Dec-13 23:07:16

What exactly do you mean??

That comparing a situation involving competent educated adults to a situation involving non-competent children is incredibly patronising.

caroldecker Mon 16-Dec-13 01:12:08

Friday My view is that voluntarily separating in a mixed sex environment means the adults aren't educated. Anyone who has studied segregation would realise that the segregated group have been indocrinated that they are inferior - we have to fight that. This is not about colour, it is about genuine education. You try to invoke racism to prevent me supporting equality - you will lose because you are wrong.
Single sex facilities are completely different to separating the sexes in a mixed environment and a deliberate attempt to derail the argument.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 03:33:10

Carol - and you know this because? I didn't realise this was psychic's corner.

Top tip - Yasmin Alibhai Brown does not speak for all Muslim women (tbh, no one does, hence if you spoke to Muslim women in the plural you'd find lots of opinions on segregation However the ones I know and what I've seen discussed on social media are giving a rather big side-eye to this debate and the intentions behind it).

The Muslim women I know who prefer segregation absolutely do not see themselves as inferior to men, they view it as an issue of personal space and propriety.

You do not have the right to deem them uneducated, or claim to know their intentions or beliefs better then they do.

How on earth is it liberating or "freeing someone" from oppression to tell them, "I think you are stupid and I know what's good for you". Muslim women are not children.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 07:23:04

My view is that voluntarily separating in a mixed sex environment means the adults aren't educated

And you're on hand to save people from themselves. How fortunate.

cory Mon 16-Dec-13 08:00:23

Imo it is ridiculous to present this as a case of preventing voluntary self segregation on the part of the audience.

There is nothing to stop self segregation at the moment. When I walk into a lecture theatre I have a choice whether to go and sit next to my female colleagues on row 8 or my male colleague on row 9. There are absolutely no threats to the right of audiences, whether male or female, to choose their own seats. If all males choose to sit next to each other and all females next to each other nobody is going to step up and stop that.

What is being debated at the moment is whether the lecturer should be allowed to tell me where to sit. In other words, some visiting person gets to decide for the students and staff in the audience.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 08:42:37

The Muslim women I know who prefer segregation absolutely do not see themselves as inferior to men

It would also be interesting to ask those who are throwing "uneducated" and "oppressed" around just where they think that oppression is coming from. My understanding of the situation is that segregation is arising particularly amongst young, educated, politically radical Muslims who see it as a radical act, and engage in it (and other things, like stricter hijab) in spite of, and not because of, the more integrationist views of their parents and their wider community. In order for people to be oppressed you need to find the oppressors, and it's not remotely clear who would be stepping up for that role here.

LoveSewingBee Mon 16-Dec-13 09:11:07

I don't think this debate is about whether Muslim women agree or not with separation, I think separation of sexes in this manner is against the spirit of UK and EU law.

There may be many Muslim women who totally agree with segregation. I don't give a toss. We don't live in a Muslim country and don't want the UK to become a Muslim country. We have our own heritage, own norms and values, own customs, own laws and are proud of that. Wasn't this what attracted many Muslims to the UK in the first place and made them want to settle in the UK?

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 09:45:33

In order for people to be oppressed you need to find the oppressors, and it's not remotely clear who would be stepping up for that role here.

So your logic is that 'strong white people' should not have an opinion on this because it is patronising. And that we should allow 'speakers' to dictate, in advance, where women can sit in the hall in order to absorb his pearls of wisdom.

What about the Muslim responsibility to the wider community? I will send my daughters into a works where they will be objectified and wolves shouted down by men, as happened in the GUU 'debate' last year.

Fortunately the wider community has stepped in to condemn thus action, hopefully this backward attitude of make privilege in debate, in 'talks' will end due to structural influences on that environment.

The 'talks' are the same, you cannot allow male privilege to be fostered in a seat of learning, it is abhorrent to my beliefs and values. And I need 'strong white people' to speak up fur me, and I need strong Muslim men and women to condemn segregation too.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 09:45:51

In order for people to be oppressed you need to find the oppressors, and it's not remotely clear who would be stepping up for that role here.

So your logic is that 'strong white people' should not have an opinion on this because it is patronising. And that we should allow 'speakers' to dictate, in advance, where women can sit in the hall in order to absorb his pearls of wisdom.

What about the Muslim responsibility to the wider community? I will send my daughters into a works where they will be objectified and wolves shouted down by men, as happened in the GUU 'debate' last year.

Fortunately the wider community has stepped in to condemn thus action, hopefully this backward attitude of make privilege in debate, in 'talks' will end due to structural influences on that environment.

The 'talks' are the same, you cannot allow male privilege to be fostered in a seat of learning, it is abhorrent to my beliefs and values. And I need 'strong white people' to speak up fur me, and I need strong Muslim men and women to condemn segregation too.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 09:47:45

Wolves? Damn you autocorrect although it's a good choice of word.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 11:09:03

YANBU

NativityAlien Mon 16-Dec-13 11:53:43

Giving a lecture about religious beliefs is very different to a religious occasion.

The lecture should require that their audience follow their beliefs just that they should listen and learn therefore their sex, religion or where they sit shouldn't matter.

There does seem to be an awful lot of muddying the waters.

UUK chief executive Nicola Dandridge said the organisation agreed with Mr Cameron that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers.

But "where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear," she said.

I mean if it's completely voluntary - ie no coercion - (and if there is coercion they should complain about sexual discrimination and it be taken seriously ) shouldn't we assume they are adults and let them get on with it.

NativityAlien Mon 16-Dec-13 11:54:29

The lecturer should not require. blush.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 11:57:44

The coercion could be peer pressure "if you don't agree to the segregation the speaker won't attend and you'll have spoilt it for the rest of us".

NativityAlien Mon 16-Dec-13 12:06:48

In which case as adults they should be able to complain about that and their complaints taken seriously.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 12:15:18

Giving a lecture about religious beliefs is very different to a religious occasion.

These aren't lectures, in the sense of the thing that university lecturers do for a living, and continually referring to them as though they are is doing the nutters' work for them.

The reason why nutters like renting rooms in universities (or getting hold of rooms via the booking privileges of people known to the organisers) is part of the spurious air of respectability. The SWP's "Marxism" festival takes place at the ULU and the adjacent IoE not because they're part of the university, but because it's a cheap place to rent some rooms and looks all intellectual and shit. If your reading group wanted to up its intellectual heft you could rent a room there too.

So if you rent a room in a community centre and get a semi-literate nutter in to shout loudly about killing de batty man, you look a bit nutty and people tend to back away from you in the street when you hand out pamphlets and even Andy Slaughter MP won't return your phone calls. But get a room at the IoE and hold a "lecture" on the problems of same-sex marriage in a multi-faith society, and you look like you're a moral philosopher.

The sort of events at which segregation is taking place are ranty speeches by lunatics with a taste for killing the kuffr, homosexuals, women who don't know their place, westerners, etc. A certain sort of student gets quite excited by all this sort of stuff, in the same way that a generation ago violent armed insurrection on behalf of the coming revolution was popular as a spectator sport for students as well. And enthusiastically adopting gender segregated seating is just as much a ritual, a shibboleth, a way of proving member of the in-group, as selling Socialist Worker on rainswept street corners is, and you don't get soaking wet either.

These aren't "lectures". These are gigs by colourful extremists who students follow in order to get a rise out of the oldies. Both the nutters and the audience would like people to think they're lectures with high intellectual standards, but in reality the whole thing is like middle class kids buying a leather jacket and painting "CrAss" on the back, or at least until they get a job as an accountant.

Seriously. Stop taking these people seriously. It's punk rock, without the tunes and the musical expertise.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:38:34

So instead of challenging this, the authorities should just shrug and get on with providing separate entrances, seating arrangements, perhaps they could check if any of the women are menstruating?

The essence of the problem is that when a speaker requests a room to be set up so that people can be segregated according to gender, and the university agrees to this, there is a tacit acceptance that this is OK. Our institution accepts this.

It is NOT ok.

There is a wider responsibility to society not to condone this medieval practice. Women have fought hard to be taken seriously and are still sidelined by men, whatever their culture or colour. Universities agreeing to facilitate gender segregations at these talks or lecture or whatever they are is retrograde.

But if there is a 'talk' and the audience then decide that they would prefer to sit with sexes separated, perhaps sometimes with all the women silent at the back, then there isn't much the university can do about it, and it shouldn't because people have freedom to sit where they like.

LessMissAbs Mon 16-Dec-13 13:41:27

Criminalising certain offences relating to sexually harassing and discriminatory behaviour would prevent such hand wringing anguish arising.

While certain new racially aggravated offences are criminalised and treated differently to sexually motivated offences, such instances can and will arise.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:45:32

I don't know how you could make asking for people to sit in certain places according to gender a criminal act.

It's not about legality, it is about what is appropriate based on university's stated aim of equal opportunities. It is about guidance rather than legal enforcement.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:51:50

The essence of the problem is that when a speaker requests a room to be set up so that people can be segregated according to gender, and the university agrees to this, there is a tacit acceptance that this is OK. Our institution accepts this.

Jesus. That's really not OK. How on earth does it justify that? Can you name them (I'm guessing you're in London, probably Zone 1)? The row has been had at "my" institution, but there it's about permitting the segregation at all. No one has suggested that the university should be actively party to it, just that it shouldn't try to start a fight in an empty room over the seating arrangements on rooms it rents out. And the conclusion reached is pretty much this:

But if there is a 'talk' and the audience then decide that they would prefer to sit with sexes separated, perhaps sometimes with all the women silent at the back, then there isn't much the university can do about it, and it shouldn't because people have freedom to sit where they like.

It sounds like we're actually in violent agreement on that part of the issue.

LessMissAbs Mon 16-Dec-13 13:55:38

Ubik1 I don't know how you could make asking for people to sit in certain places according to gender a criminal act

Change this to "I don't know how you could make asking for people to sit in certain places according to their race a criminal act" and you have your answer!

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 14:06:26

Friday the argument is (as I suspect you know) about advice handed to universities which advises that seating can be arranged for gender segregation if requested by the speaker in line with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

This has now been challenged.

The crux of the matter is whether the university has a policy which enables gender segregation, which agrees to facilitate gender segregation and possibly enforce it.

But yes, Abs this would make it illegal - but doesn't that have ramifications for people who want women only sessions etc ?

caroldecker Mon 16-Dec-13 14:27:07

this has no issues for single sex sessions, because there are legitimate issues which may be best handled in single sex sessions, such as why the cultural conditioning that has led you to accept/insist on segregated seating is wrong.
There are no legitimate reasons to split a group by gender who are listening the same rant at the same time.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 14:32:00

Friday - You keep saying things like this:

"The sort of events at which segregation is taking place are ranty speeches by lunatics with a taste for killing the kuffr, homosexuals, women who don't know their place, westerners, etc."

It is a matter of public record that the event that started all this was a debate between atheists and Muslims that featured Hamza Tzortis and Laurence Kraus.

I think Hamza Tzortis would object very strongly about being accused of being a "lunatic with a taste for killing the kuffr (sic)". In fact, I think he would go so far as to claim that this is libellous.

It would be very easy to get a list of who the ISOC at your institution have invited to give lectures. I am certain that most, if not all of them would strongly object to being labelled as "lunatics with a taste for killing the kuffr, homosexuals, women who don't know their place, westerners, etc."

Again, libel laws are for everyone, including Muslims and to accuse someone of being a violent extremist is a hugely serious accusation.

I would strongly suggest you either back up your statement that such people saying such things are giving lectures/speaking at events at your university, or that you ask for your comment to be edited, because as it stands now, you are committing libel.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 14:32:13

How exactly are they going to stop the "wrong" gender from attending?

ErrolTheDragon Mon 16-Dec-13 14:34:22

>I don't know how you could make asking for people to sit in certain places according to gender a criminal act.

You don't have to make asking for it a criminal act - what is needed is to clarify the law so that any institution who is asked can simply say, 'sorry, no can do, it would be in violation of the equalities legislation 2014 section 1'. Whereas at present the law is unclear - although it appears that the UUK may have misinterpreted it.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 14:46:38

But surely the universities have their own equal opportunities policies, in addition to any laws?

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 14:48:34

> However, three men took it upon themselves to protest against the segregated seating by sitting in the women's section and objected when they were asked to move (obviously this is not at all male entitlement and the Muslim women should've felt grateful for the men wanting to liberate them).

No, it isn't "male entitlement". They were protesting for their own right not to be segregated too. I'd have protested equally by sitting in the men's section.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 15:00:30

It is a matter of public record that the event that started all this was a debate between atheists and Muslims that featured Hamza Tzortis and Laurence Kraus.

Nonsense. It's been an issue to my certain knowledge (ie, appearing in political conversation I've an interest in) since 2008 (comments 16 et seq) and it came to a head in a debate between Douglas Murray and Anjem Choudary (of the now-proscribed al-Muhajiroun) at the South Place Ethical society in June 2009 which even made The Daily Mail. The Independent ran a story on the problem in universities in 2010. You're welcome to claim Andy Choudary hasn't engaged in ranty speechs about the kuffr, but the Home Secretary disagrees with you, which is why almost any organisation he's associated with is now proscribed. This is not a new problem.

because as it stands now, you are committing libel.

If MNHQ think that it's libellous, they can take it down (I'm sure you've already reported it). It isn't, of course. Defamation Act, 2013, S.1(1) (requirement for "serious harm") and S.3 ("Honest Opinion").

ErrolTheDragon Mon 16-Dec-13 15:07:23

>But surely the universities have their own equal opportunities policies, in addition to any laws?

Yes, but those have to operate within the law, and it appeared that they thought that they couldn't legally proscribe segregation if it could be deemed to impinge on 'free speech'.

Which is my other beef with all of this ... surely 'freedom of speech' doesn't imply 'freedom to speak in any public building I wish to under my own terms'.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 15:23:44

Friday - you are being extremely disingenuous. This current debate is linked to the Tzortis/Krause lecture. Also, you were speaking in the present tense, as if such lectures were currently happening. They are not.

Also, I would certainly argue that branding someone a "violent extremist" does leave them open to serious harm.

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 15:37:29

Also, I would certainly argue that branding someone a "violent extremist" does leave them open to serious harm.

Then it's a very good thing you're not a libel lawyer, because you'd be losing a lot of cases.

The test is serious harm to their reputation. As no speakers other than the leader of a proscribed organisation have been named, other than by you, and this is the comments section of a parenting website and not, say, the op-ed page of The Times, I think we can safely assume that no reputations capable of being harmed were harmed in the making of this thread. Especially as you are producing the extraordinary legal theory that you can libel people lumped into a category without actually naming or identifying any of them in more than the vaguest terms. A libel action starting "when they referred to violent extremists they meant me, but I'm not a violent extremist" is likely to fall to the "if the cap fits" defence, once the laughter has subsided.

See also, "why an MP can't sue just because someone says politicians are all crooks".

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 15:49:24

Just answer this: do you have any actual proof that current Islamic speakers at your university are: "lunatics with a taste for killing the kuffr, homosexuals, women who don't know their place, westerners"?

Also, have you forgotten the Gina Ford case on here? People certainly can and do get upset about what is said on Mumsnet. You are stating that an ISOC invites speakers who incite violence.

caroldecker Mon 16-Dec-13 15:57:26

gosh

Mr Tzortzis, although never personally accused of terrorist offences, has called for an Islamic state, expressed his hostility towards Western values and stated that: "We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even of freedom." from here

sounds a pleasant level headed gent

Gosh, this has wandered into other areas, but may I ask what your position is about a public meeting for adults where segregation is compulsory and imposed by the speaker?

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 16:02:26

I am concerned about the ramifications for safe spaces, too.

On a student forum near you, there are young men burning for the opportunity to cause trouble and stand up for their "rights" by reporting adverts that advertise vacancies in women-only flats.

I mean, how dare women decide who they want to live with? The fact that some men actively seek to only share with fellow males for their own reasons is irrelevant.

It will be all "but men get raped too, why are we excluded from this meeting?" Yes, so set up a men's support group focused on those victims needs, instead of using the issue as a weapon against women's support groups. Oh wait, you don't actually give a fuck about male rape victims, do you, you little mras?

NativityAlien Mon 16-Dec-13 16:07:27

These aren't lectures, in the sense of the thing that university lecturers do for a living, and continually referring to them as though they are is doing the nutters' work for them.

It's not clear what they are referring to IMO.

I had a lecture course which was compulsory part of degree where over half of the lectures were guest speakers certainly not professional lectures - they worked in various capacities within the relevant Industry/field.

My undergraduate degree had a department, same as my DH current department, where they have special open to anyone lectures and have guest speakers sometime lectures from other Unis/departments or past students or people from industry or anyone relevant who is willing to speak and who might be interesting.

I could see similar situations on religious degrees/ departments and when these guest speakers are lecturing - taking a lecture - their audiences religious beliefs shouldn't matter as they are there to impart knowledge not led a religious observance.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 16:09:30

snowed I might agree with you, but the person you quoted specified that there was a mixed section in the middle.

If there was, in fact, a mixed section, then these men sitting in the men's section looks less like a protest for human rights, and more like some men deliberately sitting next to women who didn't want to be with men, in order to intimidate and upset them.

Think about a bus. If there's twenty completely empty seats, and one stranger sitting on their own upon a seat, do you take an empty seat, or go and squash up next to the one other person on the bus?

friday16 Mon 16-Dec-13 16:29:11

Also, have you forgotten the Gina Ford case on here?

As I say: if you think that what I've said is potentially actionable, you know how to report it to MNHQ. Do so. They've got skilled libel lawyers and a firm understanding of the law.

In terms of a concrete example of preachers with foul views on homosexuality and the kuffr being hosted by campus ISOCs, I give you theyorker.co.uk/news/campus/11677-anger-as-extremist-islamic-speaker. In the twelve months since those robust descriptions of the speaker legal action has not been forthcoming, by the way.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 16:32:13

Carol - Google is a marvellous thing: www.hamzatzortzis.com/clarifications-and-responses/

Back - I think the ultimate responsibility lies with the organisation booking the speaker. I'm sure ISOC's will have different attitudes towards segregation. For the record, ISOC's are democratically elected orgs, so members of each branch have a lot of say in the direction of the ISOC.

For some, particularly those who focus a lot on outreach to non-Muslims and don't generally run segregated events, it wouldn't be an issue they would want to deal with, so they just wouldn't invite the speaker.

For those who do run events, generally aimed at Muslims, which are generally segregated, the speaker is just wanting what they would do anyway, so I can see why they would think it wouldn't be a problem, it would be seen as a club event for members of that club, which is run in a way club members like it.

I understand this analogy won't please some, but to Muslims who view segregation just as good manners and the way we do things, having a segregated meeting is no different to having a halal food at a meeting. It's just how things are done.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 16:32:47

The men were protesting against segregated seating. They have the perfect right to sit next a woman, in any section at all. It might appear rude, it may even be intimidating, but they were right to do it. Men and women sitting together is an unremarkable activity. I sit next to men all the time. I have not yet turned into a frog.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 16-Dec-13 16:34:35

From your link "It is understood that Chambers did not present any inflammatory views last night."

I repeat, you claimed that speakers are currently inciting violence on campus. You have yet to provide any evidence of this.

Maybe on buses we can have black seats, white seats and mixed seats. That will keep everyone happy then.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 16:39:58

maybe we could mixed seats, male seats, female seats and trans-gender seats in the middle...but where would you put the buggies....

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 17:41:29

To this day monasteries and convents discriminate on your sex as part of their beliefs as religious organisations. Do we have a problem with that, or just muslim women sitting away from men?

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 17:46:29

There's a big difference between a religious organisation and a university, isn't there?

How did the organisers know that the men 'in the wrong seats' were men at all?

ErrolTheDragon Mon 16-Dec-13 17:52:02

>To this day monasteries and convents discriminate on your sex as part of their beliefs as religious organisations. Do we have a problem with that, or just muslim women sitting away from men?

what religious groups choose to do on their own turf isn't what we're discussing here. Muslims and orthodox Jews can segregate their places of worship, same thing with nuns/monks. The issue is with a public meeting on university property.

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 17:57:18

There is a massive difference between a university and a religious institution.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 17:58:08

Are we talking about a university? There's a vigorous argument about that going on up thread. More importantly to me though, I see a load of individuals with religious beliefs. I do not share those beliefs, but I think that both men and women are allowed to keep away from the opposite sex, of their own free will, if it doesn't impact on anyone else.

Now there's potential for an argument that perhaps the mixed space was unused, because it wasn't a socially accepted choice, and maybe the men even discussed with the women they sat next to beforehand, as part of a coordinated protest, because they knew none of the women dared to sit in that mixed space, due to unequal social pressures. It is possible.

It is also possible that we're seeing men invading women's personal space on a flimsy pretext, and that there's even an undercurrent of "women get back in the house". And I don't want to end up supporting the latter.

erm.. you honestly think anyone here is blaming the women sitting there?

Greenfircone Mon 16-Dec-13 18:06:00

There is no place for segregation in our universities for lectures and anything to do with learning imo. I have not so much of a problem if the speaker is there for religious purposes or clubs or support groups.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 18:13:44

Let's imagine some educational facility enforces mixed seating. Suppose a hefty contingent of students came from a culture which believed is sex segregation. But, like many such cultures, rebellion against sex segregation was treated differently based on whether you were male or female.

Perhaps men sitting next to unrelated women who aren't your wife is a bit iffy, but you won't be ostracised for it. But a woman sitting next to a man who is not her brother or husband? She gets socially ostracised.

Does the mixed seating promote gender inclusion? Or does it exclude women who aren't in a position to say "fuck you" to their peers?

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 18:24:07

FGS

They are not 'enforcing' mixed seating

They are saying they will not accommodate special requests for gender segregated seating on religious grounds

LoveSewingBee Mon 16-Dec-13 18:34:29

I have never felt ostracised when I sat next to men who were not related to me. hmm

Ubik1 Mon 16-Dec-13 18:37:25

"there's even an undercurrent of "women get back in the house". And I don't want to end up supporting the latter"

Really?

Well if you suspect that that is what the men were intending, that they were implying the women shouldn't be there at all, then I suppose you should support segregation in these talks with all your might. You must join the women at the back of the hall. You must write your questions on bits of paper rather than speak.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 20:13:26

LoveSewingBee Would I be right in thinking you're not a young muslim woman, who either comes from a very traditional family, or a young muslim woman who, whatever the strength of her own beliefs, feels surrounded by extremist peers who constantly seem to be searching for reasons to call others "not proper muslims"?

If so, that might be why you've never felt you faced a risk of social ostracism, and your little emoticon is a little bit smug.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 20:16:51

ubik1 Well, if you think so... I was thinking that I should remain cynical, and not leap to the conclusion that men sitting in the women's area are necessarily wonderful feminists.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 20:17:23

The answer is not for women to be segregated obediently so they can be considered "proper muslims" by anyone who happens to be male.

In the same way as women should not have to watch what they wear, in case a man disapproves or worse.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 20:27:07

Let me try this again.

And if this had happened to be a remotely important academic lecture, and people were self-segregating, do you think forbidding segregated seating would necessarily have furthered the cause of female education and emancipation for all?

It's fine to have principles. It's fine to say, "no, we will not condone this, and allow this practice to be seen as acceptable to this prestigious institution" or some such. But please acknowledge that in the process, you would lose some students. Some who might wish to continue studying, but feel it was culturally unacceptable to do so.

Mixed spaces are only mixed when both/all groups feel equally able to go in them. If you're not starting from a good position, you get a space when the privileged group go in freely and the non-privileged group(s) is nominally allowed in, but doesn't. And people say, "but they could if they wanted, they just don't want to" and refuse to deal with the underlying issues.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 21:20:59

> But please acknowledge that in the process, you would lose some students. Some who might wish to continue studying, but feel it was culturally unacceptable to do so.

So, continue to address and challenge the reasons behind this until the non-privileged group feels comfortable, instead of taking the short-cut of letting the religous extremists call the tune.

TheBigJessie Mon 16-Dec-13 22:14:13

Well, sure, but to do that, you have to acknowledge they exist. Of course, the bloody shambles we're having now, where they actually believed a guy when he said his freedom of speech required that he be able to give his audience seating instructions, implies that nuanced decisions about consequences are beyond them. Fortunately, as far as lectures are concerned, AFAIK, the status quo of "sit where you like and pay attention" has continued. At least, I hope it has, because if it hasn't, it will be hard to shift back.

By the way, it isn't just male Muslims telling females off. Like any patriarchy, a lot of the warders are women, and in this case they're making their opinions clear about what counts as modest dress and "un-Islamic" behaviour to their more moderate sisters.

I hope that the majority of these radical teenagers at uni will grow out of it quickly.

caroldecker Tue 17-Dec-13 01:30:00

see my post ealier about FGM, it is the same and must be challenged

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