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Nick Cohen spurns the proffered compromise

Nick Cohen has posted round 2 of his disagreement with Universities UK over its guidance on gender segregation.

On the Today programme this morning Justin Webb covered the decision by Universities UK to allow fundamentalist speakers to segregate women from men at public meetings.

With a characteristic disdain for accepted standards of behaviour, Universities UK refused to go on air and answer his questions. Webb had to ‘put the other side of the story’ himself. He told a Palestinian woman demonstrating outside Universities UK headquarters in central London, [1hr 36mins in] ‘What Universities UK say is, if non segregated seating is also provided it could be all right.’

Put like that it can sound just about all right. Men and women who want to sit apart can do so. Meanwhile there will be mixed seating for students who find the notion of sexual apartheid as repellent as racial apartheid. A typically British compromise, you might say.

I am not having a go at Webb. He delivered a fine report. Nor do I blame him for not understanding the Universities UK report on segregation – the academics write as if they learned English as a foreign language in an understaffed Brussels business school. But Webb, like many others, underestimates the extremism of the leaders of our institutes of “higher” learning.

Hmm, I didn’t think Webb put that in a way sympathetic to UUK. He frankly sounded pretty repelled by the whole idea throughout the piece. I thought he was more feeding the Palestinian woman a line so that she could respond to it than arguing UUK’s case for them.

To all of this Universities UK say: oh we’re just acting on legal advice. But as you can find lawyers who will say that black is white and 2 + 2 = 5, the question remains: is its legal advice any good? No one knows. Universities UK has not published its advice, and thus deprived feminist lawyers of the chance to examine it.

It admitted to me, in the days when it was talking to journalists, that it was just acting on this mysterious advice. It accepted that no court had ruled on whether speakers can impose segregation. Even without judicial authority, however, it went ahead and upheld the supposed rights of speakers with a ‘genuinely held religious belief’.

If you read the whole report, you discover a glaring double standard. When Universities UK moves on to discuss the rights of women, far more stringent criteria apply. It speculates that ‘feminism’ might be a ‘belief protected by the Equalities Act’. If it were, then maybe feminists could stop segregation. A terrible prospect, indeed. But Universities UK finds reassurance in the knowledge that no judge has ruled on the status of feminism.

It’s so bizarre, isn’t it? The burden of proof isn’t on the people who want to stop segregation, it’s on the people who want to start it. Imagine some blowhard gets on a city bus and tells everyone, “men sit on the right, women on the left.” Would everyone jump to obey? Hardly! We don’t get to tell each other where to sit in public places, barring extreme situations such as someone who just fell into a pool of shit. People sitting wherever they damn well please is the default, and they don’t have to get a court ruling first. That’s not even feminism. It’s more just fuck off.

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    I know that British judges have ruled on sexual equality and that in the past several decades these rulings have been pro-equality and anti-discrimination. So I think UUK is whistling past the graveyard when they claim that sexual segregation is legal.

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    So I think UUK is whistling past the graveyard when they claim that sexual segregation is legal.

    They seem to think that if it hasn’t been specifically said to be against the law, it’s legal.

  3. Omar Puhleez says

    “Imagine some blowhard gets on a city bus and tells everyone, “men sit on the right, women on the left.” Would everyone jump to obey? Hardly! ”

    Imagine another situation. Some blowhard gets on a city bus and tells everyone, “all those who like me have highly contagious leprosy please join me down here at the back. The rest of you sit where you please.”

    Would he have any response? I suspect that he would.

    I get the impression that the proponents of segregation by sex believe that each sex is contaminated in some way by the presence of the other.

    Women are ………………………………………… by men. Men are ……………………………………………. by women.

    I leave it to the reader to fill the details into the blanks.

  4. johnthedrunkard says

    I believe that Haredi blowhards in Israel regularly pull that act on buses. And in neighborhoods where they predominate some transit systems have obeyed.

  5. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I wish more of this commentary would acknowledge the fact that their “legal advice” simultaneously ignores and marginalizes trans folk.

    I’m not saying that non-trans people aren’t hurt by this and shouldn’t be outraged. Please do. It’s offensive as F to all involved. Nor am I saying that I want you to simply use trans people’s existence, experiences, lives as sticks with which to beat your rhetorical opponents.

    But the implementation of their recommended policies can and will have horrible effects on trans people. The UK has laws regarding this. Discussing the actual negative impact an the actual il/legality of those policies wouldn’t, y’know, suck.

  6. ismenia says

    One point that doesn’t seem to be getting through is that the people making the demands for segregation don’t believe in the equality of the sexes. They might say things like “spiritually equal” but that’s a far cry from legally, politically and socially equal.

  7. Minnow says

    Am I right that the compromise here is that speakers can offer gender segregated seating so long as every member of the audience is free to chose to sit in a non-segregated area? Because that does seem fair enough to me and it honours the principle of freedom of association. Of course we can still despise those people who want segregation at their talks but it is surely more liberal to permit than to ban it under those circumstances.

  8. Minnow says

    It’s so bizarre, isn’t it? The burden of proof isn’t on the people who want to stop segregation, it’s on the people who want to start it.

    I think the burden of proof is rightly on those who want to limit another person or groups freedoms. That is the liberal approach. We should have a very good reason to say that people organising private events cannot organise them as they choose.

  9. John Morales says

    Minnow @7,

    Am I right that the compromise here is that speakers can offer gender segregated seating so long as every member of the audience is free to chose to sit in a non-segregated area? Because that does seem fair enough to me and it honours the principle of freedom of association.

    Though it’s arguable whether it’s fair, it’s rather inflexible for venue administrators — so it certainly cannot be ‘best practice’*. I think that’s a rather pragmatic consideration

    * e.g.:
    On what basis does the facility proportion seating, given there are to be three sections?

    What happens when one section is filled while at least one other is not?

    (One foresees a lot of shuffling)

  10. brucegorton says

    Minnow

    Nope. Cohen quoting the guidelines:

    Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely- held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.

    As to this idea:

    I think the burden of proof is rightly on those who want to limit another person or groups freedoms. That is the liberal approach. We should have a very good reason to say that people organising private events cannot organise them as they choose.

    If saying that gender discrimination is wrong and shouldn’t be practiced by universities is illiberal, then fuck liberalism.

  11. Shatterface says

    One point that doesn’t seem to be getting through is that the people making the demands for segregation don’t believe in the equality of the sexes.

    Quite – and in conceding to their demands universities are losing the religious ‘debate’ before it starts.

    These fuckers shouldn’t be given an invitation in the first place. There are minimum standards of behaviour that should be met before an invitation should be issued.

    It’s not like there’s a shortage of (tax-exempt) places they can spew their bile.

  12. jenl says

    “Am I right that the compromise here is that speakers can offer gender segregated seating so long as every member of the audience is free to chose to sit in a non-segregated area? Because that does seem fair enough to me and it honours the principle of freedom of association. Of course we can still despise those people who want segregation at their talks but it is surely more liberal to permit than to ban it under those circumstances.”

    So there are 3 seating sections. Red, Mixed Red & Blue, and Blue. In theory, there’s no problem – people sit in the section they want. Except what happens if the Reds all sit in their own section? Then there are 2 segregated sections – Red, and a double-size Blue section. The Blues who would like to have segregated seating don’t have the option to go join the Reds. It’s probably extreme that there are NO Reds in the mixed seating. So instead you get 98 Reds in the Reds-only, 50 Blues in the Blues-only, and 2 Reds among 50 Blues in the Mixed section. That’s still pretty segregated, and NOT by the choice of the 50 Blues who’d like to be treated equally to the Reds. And as pointed out above, even this “allow for a mix of Reds and Blues” scenario *completely* ignores the possibility that anyone is any shade of Purple. (Or Green. Or polka dot.)

  13. Minnow says

    Jenl, it is already possible for any one group to all decide to sit together. The question is whether there should be areas that exclude one group or another. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. I am happy with women’s toilets, women’s clubs and societies, and women’s rooms all being gender segregating. My only worry would be a backdoor attempt to inflict general segregation , but affording mixed areas (so long as they are adequate in size) seems to deal with that. The purpose of liberal principles such as freedoms of association and speech is to protect the things we don’t like, not the things we do. I think some people are forgetting that. and the ‘fuck liberalism’ response that one commenter gives above is a real danger.

  14. iknklast says

    Minnow, you are getting very tiresome. Freedom and rights does not mean the freedom to disregard rules and conventions that society has deemed important, unless you have a compelling reason. In a synagogue or mosque, you can obey those rules. But this is not a private event, it is a public one, open to the public. Different rules apply in public gatherings. You are invited to use someone else’s space, and have an audience that is not exclusive to your own ideas. To require that people who are not part of your religion follow your rules in a public space is a clear violation of the rights of free association; not being able to force people into your own rules in a public space and refusing to come speak for that reason is not a violation of the rights of free association. You are free to make the choice not to come. You do not have an automatic right to be heard, just because you have a right to speak.

  15. Minnow says

    But this is not a private event, it is a public one, open to the public.

    Iknklast, at the risk of wearying you further, this is a private event in the relevant sense, it is taking part on privately owned property and not in a public space, it is organised, paid for and run by non-public bodies and it is ticketed. It is not a public gathering in any sense. Liberal freedom may not imply the freedom to break rules in every circumstance (depending on how those ‘rules’ are formulated and enforced), but it certainly does imply the freedom to break with conventions that society has deemed important. I think you need to rethink your liberalism if you think obedience to social convention is required. That is if you are not too exhausted by reading this. Perhaps have a little lie down first?

  16. Richard Simons says

    Minnow: a speaker who is insisting that his (unlikely to be her) audience is segregated is not going to agree to a mixed section in the audience. If members of the audience wish to segregate themselves, they have always been free to do so, they just have to agree with their buddies to sit together and get there early enough to find a block of seats.

  17. brucegorton says

    Minnow

    All but two of the UK’s universities are publicly funded (the University of Buckingham and the University of Law being the only exceptions).

    This means they are in fact public spaces.

    So, everything you just snottily wrote to Iknklast is in fact completely wrong.

  18. Minnow says

    Bruce, they are not public spaces in the relevant sense (actually I don’t think they are even public spaces in your sense because they are not state owned). You may not access university spaces without invitation. So what I wrote to Iknklast (who initiated the snottiness, by the way), was right and to the point.

  19. Minnow says

    Minnow: a speaker who is insisting that his (unlikely to be her) audience is segregated is not going to agree to a mixed section in the audience.

    I think the idea is that they will be forced to.

  20. Minnow says

    Maureen, I don’t deny that universities have a duty of equality, just that they are public spaces. I don’t think the compromise we are discussing, if I have understood it, contravenes such a duty.

  21. brucegorton says

    Bruce, they are not public spaces in the relevant sense (actually I don’t think they are even public spaces in your sense because they are not state owned). You may not access university spaces without invitation. So what I wrote to Iknklast (who initiated the snottiness, by the way), was right and to the point.

    Ahem “You may not access military bases without invitation” is about as true and last I checked, they weren’t privately funded or owned.

    The universities are in fact part of the public sector, not private. So, yeah, you are completely wrong.

  22. brucegorton says

    Maureen, I don’t deny that universities have a duty of equality, just that they are public spaces. I don’t think the compromise we are discussing, if I have understood it, contravenes such a duty.

    Oh really?

    I think the burden of proof is rightly on those who want to limit another person or groups freedoms. That is the liberal approach. We should have a very good reason to say that people organising private events cannot organise them as they choose.

  23. Wylann says

    Let’s turn this around.

    Hypothetical: A female islamic (or pick a different religious belief) insists that her version of religion also insists on segregated seating. However, in her version the women must sit up front (or on the right) and men must sit in the back (or on the left). Would this still be ok for all attending, if there was a mixed area allowed? Would the men feel that it is entirely appropriate due to her sincerely held (natch) religious beliefs?

    If the answer is no, they can all fuck right off then. (Of course, being the bigoted asshats they are, they probably would not go to see a woman speak…)

  24. Minnow says

    The universities are in fact part of the public sector, not private. So, yeah, you are completely wrong.

    No I am not Bruce, an organisation may be part of the public sector without being a public space. Oxford colleges, for example, are privately owned. They may refuse state funding whenever they choose and go their own way. Universities are not public spaces in the relevant sense.

    I think you are finding contradictions where there are none. I don’t deny universities have a duty of equality but I still think that we need a very good reason before we stop people organising themselves as thy see fit. You seem to think there is a a logical problem there, but I can’t see one.

  25. Minnow says

    Wylann, I think the guidelines specify that segregated areas must not be arranged hierarchically.

  26. brucegorton says

    And again, fuck your idea of liberalism. Seriously, fuck it, it is just conservative bullshit in more polite language.

    You are siding with inequality by proclaiming that first harm must be demonstrated before it can be dealt with – and frankly there is enough history regarding segregation racial and otherwise that it shouldn’t be controversial.

    The real truth is that it is not that harm must be demonstrated to you, it is that something you agree is harm must be demonstrated to you.

    Seriously, if that is liberalism fuck it.

  27. Maureen Brian says

    If the equality duty applies then whether you call it a public space or a rabbit hutch matters not one whit. It is being run in a way which makes it, de facto, a public space and the responsibility for managing it rests with people who also have a public duty.

    Let me illustrate what I’m talking about, as you seem to find it all so difficult. About 150 metres from here is a large building. Almost all of the time it is the local Baptist church and its congregation can think, believe and do whatever they wish BUT when we had major floods and it gave a temporary home to the local organic foods shop it was subject to food hygiene and customer safety law. When, once a year or so, its schoolrooms become a polling station it is subject to the legislation governing that. It temporarily tuns into something else.

    As the university was a public space to begin with and nothing has happened to turn it into something else then the rules for public spaces apply. End of story.

    How well equipped are you, Minnow, to discern whether or not actions break that equality duty? Do you think that being subject to physical intimidation and the threat of physical force is non-discriminatory? Do you think that a woman having to write down her questions which are then read out – if she’s lucky – by a man is not discriminatory? Do you think that springing gender segregation on a mixed audience is non-discriminatroy? Do you think that lying to a guest speaker about whether an audience will be segregated is good practice?

    Do you understand the cumulative effect of such bullying? Or do you simply not care as long as there’s a formula you can cling to – one which makes no sense but provides comfort to those who really do not care if we end up back in the middle ages.

  28. Minnow says

    And again, fuck your idea of liberalism. Seriously, fuck it, it is just conservative bullshit in more polite language.

    It is the opposite of conservatism, Bruce, even if it does leave space for conservatives. It simply places a high value on liberty. I think your view, that everyone should be free to do those things that you personally approve of, is the more conservative. If we mean business when it comes to defending freedom, it will mean defending those people who do things we don’t like.

    You are siding with inequality by proclaiming that first harm must be demonstrated before it can be dealt with

    I am not siding with inequality at all, but if it causes no harm I do not think we are entitles to prevent it for all we may want to argue against it. Read your Mill.

    Seriously, if that is liberalism fuck it.

    Until you find yourself in a minority group choosing to act in ways that the majority consider morally harmful to you, then you might see its virtues again.

  29. Minnow says

    How well equipped are you, Minnow, to discern whether or not actions break that equality duty?

    I am guessing tat I am about as well equipped as you Maureen. If I am understanding the situation here, the university has dais that speakers can arrange to have sexually segregated areas in talks so long as where people sit is entirely voluntary and there is adequate non-segregated seating. That seem reasonable to me. It increases choice for women and men equally. I don’t like it personally and probably wouldn’t go to hear these particular preachers preach, but I don’t think I have the right to inflict my prejudices on others.

  30. says

    Am I right that the compromise here is that speakers can offer gender segregated seating so long as every member of the audience is free to chose to sit in a non-segregated area?

    The speakers don’t own the seating, so they have no authority to “offer” any such thing to anyone.

    Because that does seem fair enough to me and it honours the principle of freedom of association.

    The best way to honor that principle is not to let anyone demand any sort of segregation in the first place, and let people choose where to sit. How hard is that for you to understand?

    …but it is surely more liberal to permit than to ban it under those circumstances.

    It’s “liberal” to permit outsiders to dictate where people sit and with whom they interact? Your gross abuse of the word “liberal” is typical of libertarian dishonesty.

    Wylann, I think the guidelines specify that segregated areas must not be arranged hierarchically.

    “Separate but equal?” US courts kicked that bullshit to the curb in the 1950s. (And the fact that a libertarian is STILL supporting such bogosity here, should be taken as a reminder that libertarians have been consistent opponents of EVERY government effort to diminish racial, sexual, or other discrimination from day one.)

    …an organisation may be part of the public sector without being a public space.

    Public agencies are required to comply with public law — including those horrible nazi anti-discrimination laws you libertards call “tyranny!!!” Furthermore, basic individual legal rights don’t stop at private space.

  31. says

    It is the opposite of conservatism, Bruce, even if it does leave space for conservatives. It simply places a high value on liberty. I think your view, that everyone should be free to do those things that you personally approve of, is the more conservative.

    Same old stupid dishonest libertarian word-games.

    If we mean business when it comes to defending freedom, it will mean defending those people who do things we don’t like.

    This isn’t about people “doing things we don’t like;” it’s about people DICTATING OTHER PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR, IN VIOLATION OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS. The fact that a “libertarian” would ignore this crucial difference, just shows what a total fraud libertarianism is, and always was.

  32. Minnow says

    “This isn’t about people “doing things we don’t like;” it’s about people DICTATING OTHER PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR, IN VIOLATION OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS.

    But it isn’t. It is allowing people, men and women, to sit in segregated areas or no-segregated areas as they see fit. That isn’t ‘libertarian’ it is just liberal. No laws, as far as I can see, are being broken.

  33. Maureen Brian says

    In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.”

    From: John Stuart Mill. On Liberty

    And, no, Minnow. You don’t get to push us back under that tyranny of opinion it took so long to escape. Trying to call that “liberty”is just plain offensive.

  34. says

    I am guessing tat I am about as well equipped as you Maureen.

    You guessed wrong, and you prove how wrong you are with every word.

    It increases choice for women and men equally.

    A policy of segregation INCREASES CHOICES?! What color is the sky in your paleo-libertarian bubble-verse?

    I don’t like it personally…

    This isn’t about personal likes or dislikes; it’s about policies that interfere with other people’s freedoms and enforce unequal treatment. Pretending to sniff disapprovingly at a policy you’re defending — with blatantly dishonest rhetoric, no less — clearly shows what a hypocrite you are.

  35. brucegorton says

    It is the opposite of conservatism, Bruce, even if it does leave space for conservatives. It simply places a high value on liberty.

    Bullshit. It places absolutely zero value on liberty.

    If you were around in the 1950s you would be using the exact same arguments to support businesses that refused to serve black people – because it isn’t liberty you support.

    You claim that you are liberal, but the second an issue such as this comes up, you invariably end up arguing for inaction because in truth that is what liberalism is to you.

    And that is conservative claiming itself to be liberal, in order to neuter any liberal activism.

    My position on this is as follows: Segregation of this sort throughout history has been shown to be harmful. Universities are public enterprises – a large portion of their funding is out of the public purse.

    Due to the way the universities are funded and owned they should not allow segregation in their events. The government involvement in the UK’s universities should legally preclude this form of discrimination.

    But even were that not the case people protesting it would be totally and completely within their rights, and shouldn’t be called illiberal for doing so. To proclaim illiberal for opposing discrimination demonstrates that your liberalism is in fact in fact nothing of the sort.

    It is just authoritarianism dressed in liberal sounding rhetoric, in much the same way that pseudoscience makes heavy use of scientific jargon.

    You claimed:

    it is taking part on privately owned property and not in a public space, it is organised, paid for and run by non-public bodies and it is ticketed.

    This is factually incorrect. The property is not in fact entirely privately owned, and the organisation and funding both have strong public components.

    Therefore your attempt to pull the argument over into what government can and cannot dictate to the private sphere fails. It just doesn’t work on a base factual level.

  36. says

    It is allowing people, men and women, to sit in segregated areas or no-segregated areas as they see fit.

    What, they can’t choose where to sit without a mandate of segregation?

    Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: you can choose which public events to attend, and where to sit at each event — but you have NO RIGHT to choose who ends up sitting near you, and neither do the speaker or the event organisers. Your right to sit where you want does not trump or diminish anyone else’s right to sit where they want. That’s how EQUAL RIGHTS works, and your failure to grasp this basic truth causes your entire argument to fail.

  37. says

    If you were around in the 1950s you would be using the exact same arguments to support businesses that refused to serve black people – because it isn’t liberty you support.

    I’m pretty sure Minnow got his blather-points from the people who did just that back in the day. Those are, after all, the people who formed the backbone of the libertarian movement, and the people whose bigotry libertarian ideology was deliberately crafted to serve.

  38. Argle Bargle says

    If there are segregated and non-segregated areas which people can choose to sit in, why are there segregated areas at all? If people can sit in the non-segregated area, then why have segregated areas? Can our libertarian explain that?

  39. says

    Another point – this is about public events in public universities. It’s not about meetings of religious societies, which can segregate each other if they want to; it’s about university debates that invite guest speakers. The debates are for the whole university, and the general public can attend too. The event doesn’t belong to the guest speaker, or to whatever university group invited the guest speaker.

  40. says

    And Argle Bargle’s point at 39 was going to be my second point. What are you talking about, Minnow? If as you say everyone can sit where she likes, then there is no segregation, because people can sit wherever they like. “Wherever they like” doesn’t mean “in the mixed section”; it means wherever they like. A woman can sit in the putative “men’s section” and a man can sit in the putative “women’s section.”

    You do know that Abhishek Phadnis was ejected from the Krauss-Tzortzis debate when he sat in the putative “women’s section” don’t you? Or don’t you. Perhaps you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  41. says

    Minnow is just doing that conservative thing where they try to paint rejection of intolerance as intolerance itself.

    “Well you say you like tolerance, why won’t you tolerate my intolerance, huh? Hypocrisy! Checkmate liberals!”

    Same with the segregation thing. Segregation is incompatible with freedom of association. Telling people that they may not impose segregation is therefore not infringing on their freedom in any way, counter to Minnow’s claims.

    Minnow IS growing quite tiresome. One wonders why he reads this blog when it’s so ill-suited to his views and temperament.

  42. Wylann says

    Also, Minnow, you are aware that left/right is perceived as hierarchical in islam, right? Try making the men sit on the left and the women on the right at one of these events and see what happens.

  43. Minnow says

    If people can sit in the non-segregated area, then why have segregated areas? Can our libertarian explain that?

    Because some people may prefer to sit in a segregated area, just as some people prefer to use segregated toilets. It isn’t hard to explain. We may not agree with people’s choices but that isn’t a good reason to ban them.

  44. says

    Jesus fucking Christ, Minnow, even for a libertarian you’re stupid. Here’s something else that isn’t hard to explain: we’re all free to be as segregated as we want on our own time, on our own property, in whatever privately-organized events we choose to participate in. There’s no need for publicly-funded institutions to cater to such preferences. If you want to have a racially- or sexually-segregated event, you can do it in your own home. That’s not a choice the government has to give you — you already have it.

    The fact that I have to explain such an obvious fact to a libertarian — who’s using his ideology to defend an authoritarian policy — once again proves how deeply fraudulent libertarianism is.

  45. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Minnow:

    Am I right that the compromise here is that speakers can offer gender segregated seating so long as every member of the audience is free to chose to sit in a non-segregated area? Because that does seem fair enough to me and it honours the principle of freedom of association. Of course we can still despise those people who want segregation at their talks but it is surely more liberal to permit than to ban it under those circumstances.

    No. You’re very, very wrong.

    First,
    “speakers” don’t offer the gender segregated seating in the scenario. “Speakers” request it of a university and the university “imposes” (that’s UUK’s verb) segregation on the students and other attendees.

    Second,
    the university, under the UUK proposed responses may or may not counter with an offer for 3 sections – one gender free-for-all, one segregated for men and one segregated for women. Also according to the scenario, the speaker is free to turn this down. Under that scenario, the university is to go with the original plan to “impose” segregation on a left/right basis.

    Third,
    “honors the principle of freedom of association”? What is going on here is not the principle of freedom-of-association. If men want to sit next to other men, they can show up to a non-segregated even early and nab a group of seats for themselves and their men friends. If I want to sit at a segregated event next to, well, fucking anyone at all, I can’t. Presumably trans people don’t exist, but if I have the temerity to exist, one would certainly have to ask the speaker – since it is the speaker’s views that are creating the situation – where I am “allowed” to sit.

    In a world of 2 fundamentalist options where would that be, exactly?

    So, no, not the freedom of association. This is the antithesis – a speaker using government resources to speak asks the government to dictate to me where I can sit and with whom, then the government complies with that request by “imposing” gender segregation on me and everyone else in the audience.

    This is what’s actually being proposed. Now deal with it.

  46. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Minnow:

    Because some people may prefer to sit in a segregated area, just as some people prefer to use segregated toilets. It isn’t hard to explain. We may not agree with people’s choices but that isn’t a good reason to ban them.

    I prefer to use toilets segregated in such a way as to preclude my use. It isn’t hard to explain. You may not agree with my choices, but what’s your reason for banning them?

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