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

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

Sorry for the long title.

Link to BBC article

For once, I agree with Cameron.

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

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

BackOnlyBriefly Mon 16-Dec-13 17:50:00

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.

BackOnlyBriefly Mon 16-Dec-13 18:05:30

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


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"


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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