James Bloodworth has a good post at Left Foot Forward on why we oppose gender segregation at public events.
As long as neither gender is put at a disadvantage by imposed segregated seating – i.e. men and women will be ‘separate but equal’ – Universities UK don’t see any problem with it.
To get an idea of just how absurd this is, imagine for a minute the justified furore there would be if racial segregation were permitted on campus on the basis that black and white people were ‘different but equal’. Imagine if gay people were separated out from their straight friends on the basis that they were ‘difference but equal’, with those refusing to move booted out of the lecture hall for no other reason than their sexuality.
You know this would not be permitted, and yet it is with women. Why?
Because it’s different. It gets a partial exemption, or sometimes a full exemption. Why? Because it’s so hard to give up the subordination of women. Why? Because sex, and family life, and habit, and all sorts of things related to that. Because it’s up close and personal.
Religions get an exemption for hiring all-male clergy, after all. Why’s that? Why do you not see them any longer barring Other Races, when you do see them quite cheerfully barring women? Because gender inequality goes deeper than the other kinds. Why does it? Because it’s there, I guess, like Everest. Humans like to sort and rank and evaluate, and gender is the first criterion most people encounter.
Or to put it another way, I don’t know, but it does.