Misery in Mississippi »« Concerns about the motivation

Ah there he is now

So, to complete the picture, who should chime in at the Spectator but…Douglas Murray himself. And what do you know, he gets it all wrong too. But of course he gets it wrong from the opposite direction.

He starts by quoting someone unknown who announced that ‘The left doesn’t really matter’. Hooray, he says.

If there is anyone who thinks that a shame they should just look at the contortions ‘the left’ is going through now over the issue of gender segregation. This is the process – which has been occurring on certain university campuses for some time and which a number of people, including colleagues of mine, have long highlighted – that consists of separating audiences according to gender. This segregation occurs because of the demands of some immoderate Muslims.

Anyhow – having been around as an issue for some time, the process has finally been picked up on more widely with such a head of steam that Channel 4 News has repeatedly focussed on the matter, there has been a public demonstration against such segregation, and now the Prime Minister himself has come out opposing it.

See? Got it wrong. The demonstration came first, and then Channel 4 News focused on it, first by reporting the demonstration. The demonstration caused the Channel 4 focus; we can tell this because the focus began with the demonstration. And who organized that demonstration? Why, the left. Not the whole of the left, certainly, but the big chunk of it that cares about rights even for female members of minority “communities.”

Which led me to spend some of the last hour reading the contorted posts and messages which self-described ‘leftists’ have been exchanging about all this and I think it is fair to say that there are several divides. A small number recognise that separating men from women in publicly funded institutions is a concerning and backward trend. Others disagree with that and (Muslim and non-Muslim) agree with that large number of people globally who believe that religion trumps women’s rights. Most interesting, though, are those who see that there is a problem with gender segregation but are fearful of saying so. The particular reason – and this really is a fascinating window into their minds – is that if they do oppose gender segregation they will put themselves in the same camp as certain ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative’ people. Worse they will risk putting themselves on the same side of the argument as ‘right-wing’, ‘conservative’ people who are also male and possibly even have white skin. I discover that David Cameron and I are often cited as examples of where all this horror can lead.

He’s taken Gopal’s lead, and diminished and minimized the part played by the anti-Islamist left, although he doesn’t disappear it entirely the way she did. “A small number,” he says, then proceeds to drop that large chunk of the left which negates everything he so breezily says about the left. He’s not interested in us, he’s interested in the Gopal variety, so interested that it blots out all the others.

A plague on both their keyboards.

Comments

  1. dmcclean says

    “A small number” should be the opposite of “more”, but he has it as the opposite of “more interesting”.

    Most interesting, though, are those who see that there is a problem with gender segregation but are fearful of saying so.

    is really saying

    More supporting of my preconceptions are the small number of people, largely imagined by myself, who see that there is a problem with gender segregation but are fearful of saying so. I’ll not name any names or cite any examples, because I’m far too important and at any rate I’m too busy using this nice pitchfork to move straw around.

  2. says

    Most interesting, though, are those who see that there is a problem with gender segregation but are fearful of saying so.

    This misses the mark somewhat. It would be more correct to say:

    Most interesting, though, are those who see that there is a problem with gender segregation but don’t care enough about it to overcome any fears they may have of saying so.

    The point being that for most people it’s scary to put their head above the parapet, but if they care enough about the issue they will. The sort of reaction I’ve had discussing this issue in the pub has been “Yes, I agree there’s a problem, but in the grand scheme of things does it really matter if there are a few segregated public meetings? I’d rather spend my time worrying about real issues like the closure of hospitals and campaigns for decent unemployment benefits.” If only it were a matter of “a few segregated public meetings,” but it’s not. It’s a matter of what sort of society we wish to live in and what sort of society our children and grandchildren will inherit. Do we really wish to live in a society where one group can arbitrarily trample on the rights of others on the flimsy excuse that they feel divinely mandated to do so? Do we really wish to live in a society where misogyny is tolerated as a matter of course? Unfortunately, as far as the latter question is concerned, we already do and the reluctance of many on the “left” to take gender segregation seriously is just another symptom of this malaise.

  3. Omar Puhleez says

    As the immortal C. Hitchens pointed out, there is the pro-totalitarian left, and the anti-totalitarian left.

    This sort of issue tends to sort the two strands out brilliantly.

    I for one am quite happy to support the liberal right against the totalitarian left. At the same time, I will support both the liberal right and the liberal left against the totalitarian (ie fascist) right.

    Such distinctions are important.

  4. LSESUASH says

    Ophelia says it all.

    Funny thing though, someone told me that Douglas Murray once was a ‘great writer’ – if this ever happened, these times are long gone.

  5. Minow says

    Murray is not a great writer but he is a good one and has been excellent on the recent attacks on press freedom in the UK. But I am not surprised that his liberalism is selective, it usually is on the right. I am more surprised that so many on the left have joined him. This argument isn’t about the forced segregation of the sexes in public meetings, it is about allowing the sexes to choose to sit in segregated areas if they choose to at certain meetings where a special request for that arrangement has been made. Unless I have misunderstood, this will only be allowed to happen if there is adequate access to non-segregated seating for everyone who chooses it and no coercion as to where you choose to sit. I don’t like the arrangement either, and so wouldn’t be likely to go to those kinds of meetings (nor,I suspect, would any of the people protesting against them) but the liberal position is to defend practices even if you don’t like them so long as they do no harm to others. The only argument I have seen that claims this sort of ‘segregation’ (the scare quotes because it seems to me only to be segregation in the sense that women-only changing rooms are) is damaging depends on the idea that Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore be protected from having a choice.I don’t know if that is racist, but it strikes me as pretty misogynistic.

  6. says

    You have of course misunderstood it, Minow. (“Of course” not meaning “you’re dim” but meaning this has been discussed endlessly and exhaustively here so it’s exasperating when people drop in late to repeat old mistakes that have been dealt with and dealt with and DEALT WITH.) Of course there will be coercion as to where you choose to sit; that is the whole point. If you don’t want to segregate you will be expected to sit in the “mixed” section.

    You do know that at the UCL event, security guards enforced the segregation, right? You know they expelled Abhishek for exercising his right to sit where he chose?

  7. says

    Minow, it doesn’t matter whether the demand for segregation in a public space is made by a religious group, a political group or space dogs from Alpha Centauri, it is unacceptable, period. In a secular state if you think there are circumstances in which such segregation is acceptable then the onus is on you to provide a cogent argument for it. No one has to provide you with an argument against it. But your statement:

    The only argument I have seen that claims this sort of ‘segregation’ (the scare quotes because it seems to me only to be segregation in the sense that women-only changing rooms are) is damaging depends on the idea that Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore be protected from having a choice.

    strikes me as a tad disingenuous. Have you actually heard anyone argue like that? Have you read an argument like that? Or are you clairvoyant? If so then you really need to brush up on your mind reading skills. I certainly don’t think Muslim women are too weak minded to make choices for themselves and I don’t know anyone who does. But it intrigues me why you think opposition to segregation is based on making assumptions about Muslim women? Why not Muslim men? In any case I would like to see a cogent argument for your position.

    Finally, what the hell is voluntary segregation? What happens if I choose to sit in the area reserved for women? What if a Muslim woman chooses to sit in the area reserved for men? How can there be no coercion in the scenario you envisage?

  8. Minow says

    Have you actually heard anyone argue like that? Have you read an argument like that?

    Yes, on this blog. And I am amazed that we still argue about the idea of ‘voluntary’ segregation. If there is a part of a room reserved for men and a part for women and a part for women and men to mix and you can choose freely without coercion, then segregation is voluntary, noone who does not wish to be segregated by sex need be. Otherwise we should have to enforce bot-girl-boy-girl seating like they do at school.

    How far do we take this? Should women-only changing rooms be banned too?

  9. says

    Jesus fuck – if there is a part of a room reserved for men and a part for women, then you cannot choose freely without coercion – that’s what “reserved” means.

  10. B-Lar says

    Minow, The significant difference between lectures and changing rooms is that one is where people get naked and the other is not.

    You are reaching so far forward that your centre of gravity is becoming destabilised. Check your posture.

  11. Sarah Lambert says

    Minow, you’ve come late to the party and all of this has been discussed at length. Separate but equal is what you’re condoning; the same argument used in other struggles. There is no room for segregation in a public secular space like a University lecture hall. If a group wishes to hire it for their own exclusive use, then fine, segregate as much as they want, but there is an incredibly important principle at stake here. We are confronted with a well-funded and increasingly aggressive campaign by militant islamists who wish to roll back the gains civil society has made in the West over the last 150 years. If we concede this, you can be sure other demands will follow. I will not be complicit in the removal of hard-won women’s rights, and neither should you. I speak as a life-long socialist and campaigner for LGBT rights and the rightful place of women in society.

    The research needs to be done, but one look at this very expensive looking and polished Web site* indicates that considerable resources are being provided for this Islamist campaign. Which nations do we know who take a Wahabi approach to Islam, and have pots of money as well as an economic hold over the West?

    *http://www.islam21c.com/politics/segregation-and-the-useful-idiot-paradigm/

  12. says

    Minow. You say you have seen the argument that Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore have the choice made for them on this blog. I’m sorry but I don’t remember seeing it; put it down to senility if you like. However I can assure you that if I had seen such an argument I would have immediately laid into the proponent for being bloody silly; anyone who seriously entertains rubbish like that must have a screw loose somewhere.

  13. Minow says

    Separate but equal is what you’re condoning; the same argument used in other struggles.

    No, what I am condoning is separate or not separate according to your tastes. The idea that being able to choose a segregated area in an assembly effectively means that everyone else in the room is being forced to segregate is absurd. If you are able to sit in a mixed sex group, the fact that a single sex group is sitting nearby that you may not sit with does not mean you are being coerced into segregation, it means one group has separated itself from you and you are not allowed to interfere with their choice, that is all. The fact that seats have been reserved to enable that choice is neither here nor there. Why shouldn’t they be? You are not entitled to sit wherever you want in any room. Your rights have not been outraged just because some seats are not for you. It is a bit adolescent to think so frankly. I go to football matches where some seats at the front are reserved for disabled people. Some fans think this is disgusting favouritism, that they have been ‘segregated’. This debate reminds me of them a bit. How is the status of the people in the mixed group lowered by the fact that there is another group nearby? It is a very strange way of thinking. Why is this outrageous by single sex toilets perfectly acceptable? I wish someone would say.

  14. Minow says

    We are confronted with a well-funded and increasingly aggressive campaign by militant islamists who wish to roll back the gains civil society has made in the West over the last 150 years.

    Pish, you are being confronted by a vigorous campaign by a tiny, marginal faction of religious fanatics that has had, is having and, in my opinion, will have precisely no effect on the broader society except to enable some paranoid, borderline racist frotting. Remember when the Moonies were a threat to western civilisation? Yes, well, that.

  15. Sarah Lambert says

    Minow.

    Oh dear, racist? Is that the best you can do? You show the weakness of your arguments when you start to use insults.

    No-one cares where anyone sits; people can self-segregate if they wish. However, no-one is allowed to set up separate entrances, or to enforce segregated seating, (as happened at the Lawrence Krauss UCL meeting), in a secular, public space. It is outrageous that you appropriate the experience of disabled people to back up your weak arguments. Disabled people aren’t segregated for religious reasons, their lack of mobility is addressed and accommodated in any civilised society.

    Please answer my question of why, when students are happy to sit together in lectures all year, why, when an external speaker is invited, they suddenly have to sit in single sex blocks?

  16. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Minow, you are the most consistently dense commenter on B&W by a country mile. Whether you’re actually so obtuse that you’re incapable of comprehending any of the posts and comments that explain things in painstaking, clear detail, or you’re affecting to be dull, the result is the same.

    You are singularly boring and tiresome.

  17. says

    Minow. I see you have ignored Bernard’s skeptical comment about your claim to have seen people arguing “on this blog” in a way that “depends on the idea that Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore be protected from having a choice.” Like Bernard, I don’t recognize that sort of argument on this blog at all. Either substantiate that claim or withdraw it before you comment any further.

  18. Shatterface says

    Unless I have misunderstood, this will only be allowed to happen if there is adequate access to non-segregated seating for everyone who chooses it and no coercion as to where you choose to sit.

    You haven’t understood – and since you have repeatedly been corrected on this point I can only assume your constant reiteration of this argument is down to some disorder.

    These speakers aren’t asking for two segregated sections and a third mixed section: that would defeat the entire point of their demands. If they are making this suggestion lets see a quote or a link to that effect.

    Also, try using paragraphs: You’ll find it easier to see where your brain is going wrong if you space your sentences out.

  19. Shatterface says

    I go to football matches where some seats at the front are reserved for disabled people. Some fans think this is disgusting favouritism, that they have been ‘segregated’. This debate reminds me of them a bit. How is the status of the people in the mixed group lowered by the fact that there is another group nearby? It is a very strange way of thinking. Why is this outrageous by single sex toilets perfectly acceptable? I wish someone would say.

    I have a disability and if I went to a football match I’d chose to sit with my friends and family.

    By you logic I should be segregated because one of the players might refuse to play because I might distract fans attention away from the game.

  20. Minnow says

    It’s a bit late in the day but Ophelia specifically asked me to pop back to justify my claim that arguments had appeared on this blog to the effect that:

    “Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore be protected from having a choice.”

    I had actually misremembered a little, and had had been looking for a guest post when it was really a quote within another post, but it is quoted approvingly so I think the point still stands. This is what I had in mind, a comment by Steve Bowen in a post from December 12 titled ‘It’s just a social norm, totally no pressure':

    …if you happen to be, for example, a Muslim woman in that situation there is zero chance that you will risk the [dis]approbation of your peers by bucking the system. The very act of offering segregated seating, even if mixed areas are also available will mean that at least a proportion of the audience will be compelled to segregate whether they really want to or not.

    In other words Muslim women, or a significant proportion of them, will be too weak minded to decide for themselves and so must be protected from having a choice. I think I commented on the post that this had not been my experience of Muslim women and I stand by that. Muslim women can make up their own minds just like non-Muslim women, so long as there is a choice.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit.

  21. says

    Minnow you don’t have to speculate about what you said, it’s right here on this page – comment # 5.

    What you quote is an item, so you did what I asked you to do. It doesn’t make your case though. Your reading of it is a distortion. Even more, it doesn’t match up with what you claimed, which was that

    The only argument I have seen that claims this sort of ‘segregation’ (the scare quotes because it seems to me only to be segregation in the sense that women-only changing rooms are) is damaging depends on the idea that Muslim women are too weak minded to choose for themselves where they sit and must therefore be protected from having a choice.I don’t know if that is racist, but it strikes me as pretty misogynistic.

    I mean, I suppose it’s possible that that’s the only argument you’d seen, because you ignored all the others…but that would hardly be a reasonable way to argue, would it. It’s certainly not the only argument that’s been made here.

  22. Minnow says

    It is the only argument I have seen Ophelia, although there have been a lot of assertions and passionate expostulations. But, no, I didn’t expect to be much agreed with.

    My mild comment to Josh beyond the pale but his direct personal abuse aimed at me OK? I am not really surprised you stepped in, he didn’t strike me as the sort of person who could fight his own corner.

  23. says

    Actually you have it wrong – Josh’s comment addressed to you was all about your way of commenting. You’re the one who has expanded into the personal. Twice.

  24. Minnow says

    Ophelia, Josh’s comment was “You are singularly boring and tiresome.” I think it would be a strain not to read that as personal abuse. But perhaps Josh is not comfortable in English and I am being too demanding.

  25. says

    Yes and no. Yes Josh made a personal generalization, and a harsh one, but it’s obviously based on your comments. You responded with a comment about his friends and relatives, which is much more directly personal and something you can’t possibly know anything about.

    And now you’re pretending to think he’s clumsy with English.

    Stop.

  26. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh, goodness me. You’re right, Minnow. I did remark on your presentation here. It”s personal insofar as it’s your method of commenting (not someone else’s) that I find so irksome and tedious. That’s not “abuse.” Insulting your appearance, or your family, etc,., would certainly be abusive. But that’s not what happened.

    You could similarly tell me I’m obnoxious, or crude, or just horrible in how I write things here. That would not be “abuse,” either.

  27. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Minnow

    In other words Muslim women, or a significant proportion of them, will be too weak minded to decide for themselves and so must be protected from having a choice. I think I commented on the post that this had not been my experience of Muslim women and I stand by that. Muslim women can make up their own minds just like non-Muslim women, so long as there is a choice.

    Also, anti-sexual harassment policies are sexist because they assume women are too weak to Deal With It™ all by their stoic selves. Right?
    No, wrong. Saying “women shouldn’t have to deal with this shit” isn’t the same as saying “women are unable to deal with this shit”. Likewise, saying “Muslim women would have to factor in peer pressure when deciding where to sit” isn’t the same as saying “Muslim women are unable to decide for themselves where to sit”.

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