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Damion Thompson reports at the Telegraph (yes, I know – the Telegraph) that the University of East London said No to gender segregation at an event on its campus.

blogged yesterday about this “segregated” Muslim event organised by the Islamic Society of the University of East London, due to happen tonight at UEL’s main lecture theatre on its Docklands campus.

Much to my surprise, UEL immediately banned it from their campus. See the reaction below by Peter Tatchell, who brought this to public attention:

Check out the poster for the event.

SEGREGATED EVENT, spelled out right there on the poster, and then segregated numbers for the “brothers” and “sisters” to contact.

Update:

The New Ham Recorder has more.

The dinner event, organised for tonight by the University of East London’s Islamic society, advertised it as a “segregated event”, and had separate booking phone numbers for “brothers” and “sisters”.

But UEL pulled the event after human rights activist Peter Tatchell lobbied Vice-Chancellor John Joughin, warning the seating arrangement would breach equality law.

The Day After Tomorrow event – which charged £5 for tickets – would have seen a lecture theatre at the UEL’s Docklands campus strictly segregated, with women and men sitting apart.

Concerns were also raised about statements made in the past by two of the preachers booked to appear.

A spokesman for UEL said: “The society will not be permitted to use any of UEL’s facilities or premises to host this event. “We have made it very clear to the organisers that the university will not tolerate segregation or hatred in any form.”

The UEL Islamic Society was not available for comment at time of press.

Mr Tatchell thanked UEL for the move, saying: “Gender segregated seating violates the university’s equal opportunities policies and the equality laws.

“The swift, positive response of UEL stands in contrast to some other universities which, in the name of tolerance, collude with Islamist intolerance by allowing extremist preaching on university premises.”

It’s interesting that those other universities are very high-status ones while UEL is not. Similarly, Brandeis is not East Topeka Community College. I wonder why it’s the high-status universities that are so woolly on this issue.

Comments

  1. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    “Life of the Grave.”

    So, a lecture on entymology.

    This would be a great name for a band!

  2. exi5tentialist says

    I went to a secular UK boys’ school. It’s still going. 5 years, I was there. At a tender age. No girls allowed. Girls had a separate school. It even had its own phone number. This poster could easily be an advertisement for my secondary education. I am feeling nostalgic already. Anyway, never mind that, it was a white middle class form of gender segregation so I’m sure you’re not going to worry too much about it or start writing articles on it or anything.

    The thing is, this poster advertises an event that is compulsorily gender segregated for all participants. Well, that’s not acceptable. I would merge the two white middle class schools I mentioned, for example. Sorry to bring that up again. But the controversy at the other universities you referred to has been about an audience area with three options – men, women and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished, though I’m sure there are plenty of people around who would second guess what somebody’s true wish is. But that arrangement isn’t strictly gender segregation, is it? It’s tripartite segregation. Which is a bit different. Maybe that goes some way to resolving your wondering.

    Besides, didn’t the University of London react to the part-segregated Lawrence Krauss talk last year by banning the muslim organisation in question running meetings there? Not exactly woolly. Heavy-handed and deplorable, but not woolly. So on two grounds, aren’t you wondering on a false premise?

  3. says

    But the controversy at the other universities you referred to has been about an audience area with three options – men, women and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished

    No, they couldn’t choose to sit where they wished. See if you can figure out why. It’s right there in what you typed.

    Also, picture yourself solving an issue of racial segregation the same way – an audience area with three options – black, white, and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished.

    Or religious segregation – an audience area with three options – Muslim, Christian, Other, and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished.

  4. Omar Puhleez says

    Ophelia:

    “Also, picture yourself solving an issue of racial segregation the same way – an audience area with three options – black, white, and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished.”

    Put it that way and it looks like a lay-down misere, harking back to apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow times in the US South. The race analogy blows sex-segregation out of the water. EXCEPT that compulsory sex-segregation is not only normal, but treated as necessary in facilities like public toilets world-wide; voluntary sex-segregation occurs at various social functions where women gravitate together and talk of matters far more interesting to them than to men, and men do likewise re women, who tend to start yawning when the conversation centres on football, or on the relative capabilities of various car engines.
    Here in NW NSW where I live, the local town is completely and non-compulsorily race-segregated. The black and white communities keep separate and to themselves, and in my experience this comes entirely from the blacks. They want it that way, shun the whites, and censure any member of their own community who strays from that conformity.
    Sad, but true. Of course, you do not have to dig very far down into Australian history to work out why this might be so.
    I may be wrong, but voluntary tripartite sex segregation as mentioned @#2, while perhaps accommodating Muslim immigrants in a transitional way, I do not think would be found acceptable by Muslim ‘community leaders’ and clerics. But I think that for immigrant communities, a line has to be drawn somewhere. They are in the West because of what it offers them. But if enough of them choose to set up ghettoes in western cities and resist integration, well that setup becomes a ticking bomb, which will go off when the times do alter.

  5. exi5tentialist says

    No, they couldn’t choose to sit where they wished. See if you can figure out why. It’s right there in what you typed.

    No, I can’t figure out why. Enlighten me. Don’t be coy. You normally like to call a spade a spade.

    Maybe you of the school of thought that says that non-muslims can decide what the true motivation of muslim women is in wearing niqab or sitting in voluntary women-only sections of audiences in university meetings in London. Perhaps you have mastered the art of mind reading. I haven’t, unfortunately.

    Also, picture yourself solving an issue of racial segregation the same way – an audience area with three options – black, white, and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished.

    Why? This is a gender issue, and gender isn’t race. Men and women tend to have segregated toilets in the UK with some unisex toilets (sometimes disabled, in some places not exclusively). There is no biological necessity for the male/female split, so why have it? Why? Western values. Can you picture yourself merrily walking into a “whites only” toilet? And yet you still defend gender segregated toilets?

    What – your analogy doesn’t hold? Oh, thought not.

    Or religious segregation – an audience area with three options – Muslim, Christian, Other, and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished.

    That’s an unusual idea. Somebody had to think of it, I suppose. What does it prove? I know of no such situation in the world. Unless anyone can enlighten me.

    And why aren’t you saying a thing about my traumatising 5-year compulsory gender segregation at the hands of the white British middle class education system? Aren’t you concerned about it? Just muslims then? Again.

  6. Andrew B. says

    “No, I can’t figure out why. Enlighten me. Don’t be coy. You normally like to call a spade a spade.”

    What would the response be if a woman sat in the “men only” section instead of the “women only” or “mixed-sex seating?” She would be told to leave. It’s not voluntary segregation if you are told where you may and may not sit on account of your sex. GOT THAT? Voluntary segregation is the system we have NOW, where individuals and INDIVIDUALS ALONE alone choose where they sit.

    If I visit a mosque or a Muslim’s private residence, I adhere to their rules, but this is SHARED SECULAR SPACE.
    Muslims have NO STANDING to order others to conform to THEIR religious prohibitions and demands and those Muslim speakers/organizers that insist on gender segregation can accept this or FUCK OFF.

  7. exi5tentialist says

    @6 If you are given a choice as to whether to sit in a single-gender area or a mixed-gender area, and you make your choice, then that is what I mean by voluntary in the context of gender-defined seating areas. So no I have not, as you so politely put it, “GOT THAT” Now calm down and be more gentle with your caps lock or you’ll invalidate your warranty.

    Rather than being dictatorial about the boundaries you use to define the word ‘voluntary’ perhaps you’d like to address the point I make.

    There are many, many forms of gender segregation in the west. If I walk into a women-only changing room in a swimming pool, I will be asked to leave. If I go and sit in a cubicle in a women-only toilet then I will be told to leave. If a girl goes and tries to learn a lesson in a boys’ school she will be told to leave.

    And yet, nobody seems to be remotely worried about any of those. It’s only when the muslims offer gender-segregated areas people seem to to start noticing gender segregation. Doesn’t that worry you?

  8. quixote says

    esi5tentialist, it sounds like you didn’t much enjoy your gender-degregated 5 years and that you would have chosen otherwise if you could have.

    That’s what is wrong with segregation. Somebody else decides. You don’t decide what to do with yourself. Everybody feels that’s horrible when they’re the object of it, although there’s plenty who don’t let that stop them from perpetrating it.

    (And spare me any bullshit about restrooms. We’re only in them for a vanishingly small proportion of time and they’re not public fora. Exclusion from a given type isn’t a proxy for exclusion from public life. That said, the separation is pointless, except in some situations for safety reasons. One pointless segregation is not an intelligent justification for another one.)

    As for Aussie blacks choosing to stay away from Aussie whites, do you have any idea how they’re treated by whites? Not you, I’m sure. But Aussie whites (I know, because I was born one) don’t arrive labelled. “Okay.” “Not okay.” It takes only a couple of experiences of being treated as not-our-kind to decide to stick with your own kind.

  9. kbplayer says

    “f I walk into a women-only changing room in a swimming pool, I will be asked to leave. If I go and sit in a cubicle in a women-only toilet then I will be told to leave. ”

    I get very tired of explaining the difference between bodily functions in privacy and public meetings. I suppose you don’t start drying your bare arse in a public meeting? If you do, please stop. It’s an unpleasant habit.

  10. exi5tentialist says

    @9 So – you’re very tired of explaining a western norm of decency to westerners? Changing for swimming often happens in public view, and where it does it is always in a gender-segregated area due to western norms of decency. But you don’t have any problem with that. Only if muslims choose to offer partial gender-segregation in certain public situations.

    There is no biological reason why men and women shouldn’t share the same room for a toilet. No reason biological reason why it shouldn’t be in public. Most men urinate in public every day – just in gender-segregated urinal areas. There is nothing biologically stopping them doing so. So why not in an open male/female area? Not because of biology, but because of western norms of decency.

    And yet despite your weariness you have no empathy for some muslim standards of decency as manifested in women-only and men-only areas in a meeting?

    So no, clever clogs, I do not ‘dry my bare arse’ in public and please don’t ask me to dry yours. Why not? Western standards of decency, that’s why not. And because I recognise these forms of gender segregation are social not biological, I recognise that cultures of non-western origins may have other norms in other public and private places. Because westerners adhere to our norms, I think it’s reasonable to make a compromise about non-western-origin cultures adhering to theirs, one that recognises western norms as well as some muslim norms.

    Islamophobes disagree, obviously.

    And still, no-one seems to want to take up my cause of uniting boys’ and girls’ schools where they are still separate in England. That one seems to always get quietly shoved under the carpet when by people ranting on about islam.

  11. exi5tentialist says

    @8 well, no, the whole point is that people are being given a choice in meetings where they could sit in one of two areas, so no, the segregation decision isn’t always being made by someone else.

    In practice, their choice will depend on who they’re with, what their conditioning is etc. But none of us can assume any of that, any more than I can assume that when you walk into a men-only changing room at a swimming pool you’re doing so out of choice rather than your conditioning.

  12. says

    As I understand it, one of the reasons that U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, was decided in favor of the plaintiff, thus putting an end to racial segregation in public (U.S. meaning) school, was the fact that segregation itself had negative psychological effects on African American children, therefore separate could never be equal. So, the question would be whether or not a similar negative effect is found with gender segregation. Whether or not people are used to gender segregation is not relevant. In the U.S., people were quite used to racial segregation, and I’m sure more than a few people could have spoken of our cultural “values.”

    Secondly, the last time I was in France, twice I went to cafes that had one toilet for both men and women, restrooms with multiple stalls and urinals. No one seemed to mind. I’m not sure how prevalent that is, but I have seen it.

    @ Omar Puhleez, I went to a high school that had close to equal numbers of blacks and whites. While there was a fair amount of self-segregation, it was not at all rigid and groups were fairly fluid. Most majority black cliques would have a couple of white kids in them, and vice versa. I think I was quite lucky to live in that particular town and to go to that school. I don’t think self-segregation is comparable to forced segregation.

    As far as self-segregation of genders, I’ve never been much of a girly-girl and I don’t enjoy situations like that and will not return to a situation where that happens. I’m very glad to not live in a milieu where there is social pressure in that direction. My best friend is a man and I’ve always been close to both men and women.

    If I’m not mistaken, in the early 1980s the last all boy public high school in the U.S., Central High School in Philadelphia, went co-ed, after having their policy challenged in court. More recently, due to concerns about boys dropping out of school at a higher rate than girls, they’ve been created single sex public schools again. However, research on whether or not they help or hurt is ambiguous because there are too many other factors in play. Single sex schools have been challenged again recently.

    I’m afraid I have no clue about British law in regards to these things.

  13. Seth says

    @exi5stentialist:

    I think that having children segregated in schools is a gross violation of their rights, and I oppose it just as strongly as I oppose segregated public events.

    Your example of public toilets is somewhat facetious; while I agree with you that there is no biological reason behind Western standards of decency (which I also find laughable in general), a necessary justification for the presence of sexually-segregated toilets is the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. If we lived in a world where men and women could both feel safe when they were naked in the same small, closed-off space, where a woman didn’t have to constantly worry about getting harassed or assaulted, I would agree that segregated toilets were unnecessary.

    We don’t live in that world, as you well know. We *do* live in a world where women have a reasonable expectation that they won’t be assaulted in public fora, even though that still happens. There is a difference between providing women with a safe space to piss and shit, and forcing women to occupy less-important, less-vocal spaces in public events. That you refuse to entertain this difference is your problem, not mine.

  14. exi5tentialist says

    @12 so, in short, there are numerous examples of gender segregation in the west, which are inconsistent, and based on pretty arbitrary norms of decency or flaky data on educational achievement. When it is done by westerners, people are reasonably relaxed about it and discuss the pros and cons. But when it’s muslim gender segregation – even the 3-section compromise – lots of people are up in arms, seeing it as some kind of affront to deeply-held western values like gender equality comparing it to apartheid and writing angry articles about it.

    Double standards. That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it?

  15. exi5tentialist says

    @13 Seth – yes I know all that. I do not think we need graphic biological descriptions of toilet processes. But in the west, because we have identified women need a place to powder their noses, spend a penny, or (how did you put it?), whatever, we have accepted a norm of gender segregation.

    But firstly it’s a pretty poor show that we have to do that and secondly having set up a rationalisation as you have, we are in no position to reject the rationalisations of others. It really does become a debate of “my reasons for gender segregation are better than your reasons for gender segregation” and actually, to me, considering we are talking about a pretty obscure type of public meeting where western institutions would allow gender-segregated areas as an option not as a compulsion, it’s a stance that is paternalistic, hypocritical, discriminatory and rather silly and ridiculous and I oppose it for those reasons.

  16. Seth says

    Oh, give me a fucking break. You’re denouncing any and all criticism of any non-Western cultural practice because Western norms are fairly capricious, and part of your claim is that no Westerner criticises Western norms…and as soon as one Westerner implicitly criticises a Western norm by refusing to euphemise the raison d’etre of toilets, you get the vapours? You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

    Yes, as distasteful as it might be to me, I am willing to acknowledge that mandating gender segregation in certain places is justifiable. That does not mean that mandating gender segregation in general is justifiable. Preventing sexual assault is a legitimate reason to keep men from occupying certain spaces. Silencing women is not a justification to keep women from occupying any spaces.

    Shorter: Toilets and locker rooms are lamentable but acceptable segregationist spaces. Audience chambers are not.

    (Funny how I’m the paternalistic discriminatory one for insisting that self-professed ‘leaders of the community’ cannot shepherd women off into a cordoned area ‘for their own good’.)

  17. Anathema says

    @ exi5tentialist:

    Gender-segregated restrooms are not the same thing as gender-segregated lecture halls. People have explained this to you multiple times. I have no idea why you keep insisting that they are equivalent.

    I say this, by the way, as someone would prefer to live in a world without gender-segregated restrooms.

    Hey, if we just concede that gender neutral restrooms are preferable to gender-segregated ones, will you shut up and go away? Because I’m more than happy to concede that point.

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

    Yes, as distasteful as it might be to me, I am willing to acknowledge that mandating gender segregation in certain places is justifiable. That does not mean that mandating gender segregation in general is justifiable. Preventing sexual assault is a legitimate reason to keep men from occupying certain spaces.

    And THIS is what we’re dancing around. Sorry I wasn’t here earlier. Exi5tentialist, read this again.

    Now: women feel uncomfortable with gender segregation in public talks because **the only reasons we find gender segregation justifiable are related to protecting women and female human beings from violent and sexual assaults**.

    This isn’t some random Western norm. It was a policy instituted in a time of men’s ownership of women for the protection of the property interest men owned in women. But the threat was recognized: a rape would devalue the man’s property. As women more and more began to be considered persons, the threat against which we protect remains the same even as our conception of the victim and the harm have both changed.

    So, given that gender segregation is an anti-assault measure, when women see gender segregation at a lecture, we see a provocative reminder of our vulnerability to rape. The threat is implied by the measure taken to prevent it.

    Now, hey, it may be that the groups organizing these lectures aren’t at all worried that a woman will be victim of sexual assault. Yet, given the rhetoric of at least some of the preachers, that only gives us reason to worry that if we are sexually assaulted, we won’t even be considered the victim, nor anything other than a decline in our property value as “harm”.

    I’m against government schools that gender segregate. I think it causes harm. I think that harm is done by students to other students along gender lines, but I’m not afraid of insisting that our administrators be accountable for creating a safe environment and teaching 8 year olds that assault, hazing, and oppression are wrong. Nor am I afraid that if we actually do hold them accountable that they will fail at the work on the ground.

    But whether or not I believe that is irrelevant. You’re not talking about some random norm. You’re saying that gender segregated space is justifiable to prevent violent and sexual assault. Then you’re saying that, gee, these gender segregated spaces are justified as well.

    On what grounds comparable to assault prevention are they justified? And if they are justified on grounds of assault prevention, what the fuck is wrong with you for not denouncing these meetings. And if they aren’t justified on grounds of sexual assault prevention, what the fuck is wrong with you for implying that the grounds are the same…and thus that muslim men are more violent and violently sexual than, say, the ethnic Welsh (who, I might add, have a history of smearing themselves with mud and hitting people with things very hard until those people are dead). And also if they aren’t justified on grounds of sexual assault prevention, what the fuck is wrong with you for not denouncing these meetings?

    Really, I don’t see a lot admirable about your “bathrooms, therefore segregation everywhere!” argument.

  19. Shatterface says

    But the controversy at the other universities you referred to has been about an audience area with three options – men, women and mixed, where those attending could choose to sit where they wished, though I’m sure there are plenty of people around who would second guess what somebody’s true wish is. But that arrangement isn’t strictly gender segregation, is it?

    Your stupidity ceased to be amusing quite some time ago.

  20. Shatterface says

    Gender-segregated restrooms are not the same thing as gender-segregated lecture halls. People have explained this to you multiple times.

    Oh, I dunno – I’d be tempted to attend a segregated event if I was allowed to take a shit right there on the chair – just as if it I were in a toilet.

    It’s amazing how many ‘non-racists’ think making an analogy between listening to an Islamic scholar and taking a shit is a trump card.

  21. Shatterface says

    Double standards. That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it

    It would be a double standard if Westerners opposed segregation in Muslim restrooms. It’s not like Westerners and Muslims have different but equal numbers of segregated spaces – Muslims have the same segregated spaces as we do PLUS many more.

    You are obviously having trouble with your thinking. I suggest you start with something easier and work your way up.

  22. Shatterface says

    And still, no-one seems to want to take up my cause of uniting boys’ and girls’ schools where they are still separate in England. That one seems to always get quietly shoved under the carpet when by people ranting on about islam.

    Tell us more about your ’cause’ – just how active are you in uniting boys and girls schools? Are you also uniting boys and girls in Muslim schools or do you think this is only a Western problem? Or are you just full of shit? If so you can relieve your bowels in front of your local imam because you seem to regard that as equivalent to paying his culture respect.

  23. Shatterface says

    And why aren’t you saying a thing about my traumatising 5-year compulsory gender segregation at the hands of the white British middle class education system? Aren’t you concerned about it? Just muslims then? Again

    Well, I’m concerned as it obviously tucked you up so badly you can claim to have been damaged by gender segregation while simultaneously supporting gender segregation for Muslims.

  24. exi5tentialist says

    @17

    exi 5 tentialist – you’re talking way too much for someone who isn’t very good at it. Talk less or do it better.

    That isn’t even an argument, Ophelia. It’s an admission that you haven’t got one.

    I’d have thought if you were so confident of your position, you’d have the intellectual honesty to respond to the arguments I’ve actually made, rather than issuing these vaguely threatening commands. It sounds more like you want reasoned argument with your position to just fall silent. which is my general impression of the way you talk to people anyway.

  25. exi5tentialist says

    @16

    Oh, give me a fucking break. You’re denouncing any and all criticism of any non-Western cultural practice

    No, I’m not. That’s you extrapolating my position to something that isn’t my position. I’m not “denouncing any and all criticism of any non-Western cultural practice.” That’s just a lie. What I’m actually arguing is that certain specific western norms of gender segregation (boys’ schools, toilets, changing rooms, separate bathing areas, men’s/women’s clothing areas in shops, “for him” “for her” greetings cards stalls) are based on rationales that are arguable and sometimes sexist, so westerners aren’t on any moral high ground to tell people whose culture is of non-western origin not to offer segregation by gender in public meetings. Furthermore even though these regrettable examples of western gender segregation are very common, a lot of people who are criticising one muslim form of gender segregation seem to be strangely quiet about the western type until prompted and at that point they only give passing lip-service to the problem. I don’t think my observation of the hypocrisy is unreasonable, if you think it is then you’re free to explain why, but I haven’t seen any explanation yet from my detractors, just insults and swearing along with half-baked arguments as far as I can see.

    because Western norms are fairly capricious, and part of your claim is that no Westerner criticises Western norms…

    I’m sorry but that’s an incorrect observation. Many westerners criticise western norms. It’s just notable that in this argument about a muslim form of gender segregation, which I oppose if people don’t have the option of a mixed-gender area, western forms of gender segregation just get ignored, and when I bring them up I just get sworn at and insulted. So I think there’s some bad faith and hypocrisy going on. It’s just an observation.

    and as soon as one Westerner implicitly criticises a Western norm by refusing to euphemise the raison d’etre of toilets, you get the vapours?

    No. I’m just pointing out an obvious hypocrisy that I don’t want to participate in.

    You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

    Likewise

    Yes, as distasteful as it might be to me, I am willing to acknowledge that mandating gender segregation in certain places is justifiable.

    Agreed.

    That does not mean that mandating gender segregation in general is justifiable. Preventing sexual assault is a legitimate reason to keep men from occupying certain spaces.

    Agreed.

    Silencing women is not a justification to keep women from occupying any spaces.

    Agreed. But I thought we were talking about gender segregation in some university audiences.

    Shorter: Toilets and locker rooms are lamentable but acceptable segregationist spaces.

    Agreed.

    Audience chambers are not.

    So let’s just analyse this a bit. Why do women feel that sexual assaults might occur in western swimming pools if non-segregated communal changing rooms were introduced? Because some men are abusers and would assault them if they were denied gender segregated communal spaces. And even if that didn’t happen, the legitimate fear that it might happen would so badly impair women’s sense of safety and decency that they wouldn’t go swimming and we would probably see demonstrations demanding gender-segregated communal changing rooms or private cubicles, and I would join them. But that’s exactly the same as one reason why some muslim women select gender-segregated areas in public – they too have standards of decency and safety with regard to men. So I’m not going to start opposing a muslim person’s practices based on inter-gender anxiety, when I support westerner’s practices based on inter-gender anxiety. (And here I am using the terms muslim and westerner as an observation of each person’s cultural origins. Obviously, many muslims are westerners)

    In short, I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

    (Funny how I’m the paternalistic discriminatory one for insisting that self-professed ‘leaders of the community’ cannot shepherd women off into a cordoned area ‘for their own good’.)

    But you consider yourself to have the mind-reading powers to know that women sitting in an optional gender-segregated area have been compulsorily ‘shepherded’ there rather than simply looking for that area and finding it, perhaps with the help of an usher. I don’t have those powers, I’m afraid.

  26. exi5tentialist says

    @18 Anathema

    @ exi5tentialist:

    Gender-segregated restrooms are not the same thing as gender-segregated lecture halls. People have explained this to you multiple times. I have no idea why you keep insisting that they are equivalent.

    I don’t. It’s the norms of decency that I’m treating as equivalent, not the rooms

    I say this, by the way, as someone would prefer to live in a world without gender-segregated restrooms.

    I think we’re all agreed that in a better world if that could be made to happen.

    Hey, if we just concede that gender neutral restrooms are preferable to gender-segregated ones, will you shut up and go away?

    That’s a bit unnecessary. Does a dialogue really need to be like this? Do people hope that the dissenter will be banished not by rational argument but by rudeness and social exclusion? If so it doesn’t look like a community that’s very confident in its main arguments.

    Because I’m more than happy to concede that point.

    Well yes, everybody seems to be. But you and I both know that it’s pie in the sky, and that’s what I mean by lip service to opposition to western norms of gender segregation. A lot of people will happily just say “Yeah, that’s wrong [shrug]” to western norms of gender segregation and concede that it should be different without mounting the same campaign against it that they mount against muslim forms of gender segregation. I’ll treat both the same. Western toilets, changing rooms, bathing areas – yeah [shrug], I concede they’re wrong but hey, that’s not going change. Muslim gender segregation in meetings – yeah [shrug], I concede it’s wrong, but hey, we’re hypocrites if we don’t make provision for it alongside a mixed-gender option conforming to a western norm.

    I think I’m being more consistent than a lot of people about this.

  27. exi5tentialist says

    @19 Crip Dyke

    You’re not talking about some random norm.

    That’s right. I’m talking about a norm based on perceptions of decency which in turn appear to be based on people’s perceptions of the risks of sexual assault, and people include women. To be honest, I don’t think most of us think about this every time we walk into a western gender-segregated area; we just go along with the norm, and the rationale for it gets retro-fitted to it. But let’s not run away with ourselves and think that all forms of western gender segregation are rationally based on safeguarding people from sexual assault. The boys’ school example is a bit of glaring one, and the “For Him…. For Her” merchandise is even more debatable.

    Some muslim women have norms of gender segregation which are similar in origin to western anxieties and similar in the way they go along with it. If anyone’s going to convince me that I need to support depriving muslim women of gender-segregated areas in meetings then they’d need to have a reason that’s at least as good as why I should support depriving western women of gender-segregated areas in swimming pools, toilets etc. I don’t just mean in some ideal world, I mean in the here and now, in real life.

    Where the social norm is that some muslim women see themselves as vulnerable if they don’t have the option of gender-segregated areas in meetings then I will not argue against them if I do not at the same time argue against western gender segregation. And as I’m not prepared to do that, I’ll be consistent instead.

    what the fuck is wrong with you …. what the fuck is wrong with you

    I perceive this kind of language, which seems to come up again and again, as being a metaphorical form of sexual aggression. I just want to make people aware of that because you may notice I don’t use this type of vocabulary and it’s because I’m sensitive to my own vulnerability and that of other people. I don’t see that it’s necessary to be liek that.

    The question of whether somebody is perceived to be decent or indecent as a person goes far beyond the confines of the room in question. Even in a gender-segregated western changing room, there are norms of decency and anyone who breaks them forms a perception of who they in general, not just in the room. I really do not know if muslim women would be more likely to be assaulted if they sat in non-segregated areas or not, or whether their choice might have an impact on their safety outside the room, and I don’t know where the threat if any might come from. What I perceive is that muslim women who sit in gender segregated areas may have a norm of their own decency and dignity which could be involved in a choice to sit in a gender segregated area. I’m not going to go stomping on that just because of some illusory notion that we westerners are always against gender segregation or that when we realise that we do actually have gender segregation, we think we’ve always got a tip-top rationale for tolerating it. Don’t forget I spent 5 years in a boys’ school, so I’ve had some time to think about this, so I recognise this hypocrisy when I see it.

  28. Shatterface says

    You are obviously unfamiliar with English if you can’t tell the difference between using ‘fuck’ as an intensified, where it has no sexual connotations, and obviously sexually aggressive violence like dictating where women can and cannot place their posterior.

    And you haven’t answered any of my points.

    What are you doing to end gender segregation in non- Muslim schools since you claim to have taken this up as a ’cause’?

    How is it hypocritical to oppose segregation in public halls for Muslims and non-Muslims alike while accepting gender segregation in public toilets for BOTH Muslims and non-Muslims?

    Have you told any Muslims that you think listening to a talk about Islam is like taking a big steaming shit?

  29. Shatterface says

    Even in a gender-segregated western changing room, there are norms of decency and anyone who breaks them forms a perception of who they in general, not just in the room

    See, you keep repeating this ‘Western’ changing room shit as if men and women in the Muslim world get naked with each other all the time.

    There’s a big fucking difference between self-consciousness about nudity and attending a public talk.

    Hypocrisy is when you apply different standards to different people not different standards under different circumstances.

  30. karmacat says

    Exi5tentialist,
    There are some problems with your arguments:
    1. You are assuming gender segregation is an all or nothing issue. Just because lectures are desegregated doesn’t mean everything in the world has to be desegregated. Segregated bathrooms and changing rooms are in great part related to a need for privacy. A lecture is a much more public event.
    2. Gender segregation, whether by bathrooms or lectures, are based on cultural mores. The segregation of these lectures demanded by certain Muslim groups are based on cultural mores that oppress women and see women as less than women. Racial segregation was based on the idea that whites were superior to blacks. Bathroom segregation is probably based on sexual repression, however this is just speculation on my part.
    3. Gender segregation in education is a complicated issue. There are many reasons for this , some good, some bad. In the past it was certainly used to keep women from entering certain fields. Now in the US there are no all male colleges and very few all female colleges

  31. says

    exi 5 tentialist @ 25 – it wasn’t intended to be an argument. It wasn’t an argument, it was moderation of comments on my blog. I don’t like to have this place cluttered up with comments that are neither cogent nor witty. Your quantity is out of proportion to your quality.

  32. exi5tentialist says

    @31 karmacat Yes but any gender segregation in the west or anywhere else is invariably justified using some kind of rationale about protecting decency and safety . To prefer western rationales about protecting decency and safety over muslim rationales about protecting safety and decency is to be blatently supremacist in the status you give the west over islam.

    Now I don’t see how you can be confident that muslim mores about gender segregation are always about oppressing women, when muslim women are often arguing that they’re not. It’s back to the great west arbitrating on other people’s oppression for them, a familiar story that the west isn’t actually very competent at. And I mean come on, to sweep educational gender segregation under the carpet because it’s a “complicated issue”. No, it isn’t a “complicated issue”. It’s wrong. It’s an extremely simple issue. Just admit it, or face a legitimate charge of hypocrisy when you blithely dismiss the apologetics for muslim gender segregation in public meetings.

  33. Shatterface says

    @31 karmacat Yes but any gender segregation in the west or anywhere else is invariably justified using some kind of rationale about protecting decency and safety . To prefer western rationales about protecting decency and safety over muslim rationales about protecting safety and decency is to be blatently supremacist in the status you give the west over islam.

    Ah, I get you now. ,
    You think Muslim men and women must be separated in public lecture theaters because otherwise the men would rape the women.

    And you don’t think this because you are an Islamophobe, you think it’s because Muslim men really are all rapists and you are simply being practical.

    And yet again you refer to gender segregation in the West as if the segregation in public restrooms was not ALSO practiced in Muslim cultures; as if Muslims had one format of segregation while we have another rather than Muslims having the same segregation that we do PLUS a shit load more.

    As far as I’m aware you post here on one subject alone, and repeat the same fatuous argument: that so long as Westerners insist on shampooing their pubes in private after a sweaty workout at the gym and womenarent forced to stand in line to use urinals we have no right to demand educational establishments treat women as equals.

    Does it occur to you that you are a lone voice in this because you aren’t particularly bright?

  34. Shatterface says

    I have persisted on this comments section because I am trying to test the rationales for muslim gender segregation against rationales for the many forms of western gender segregation that are blatent and obvious and I have experienced in my own life many times. I am not doing this to “clutter up this place” – I am giving people including yourself the opportunity to argue why you aren’t being hypocritical. Your answer seems to be, rather than rise to the challenge, to criticise me personally for not being witty, to not address questions directly and just answer enigmatically by telling me to “see if you can figure out why” and to make vaguely superior remarks about “moderation”. Well, yeah – those would all be responses of someone trying to cover up a hypocrisy.

    You keep using the word hypocrisy without giving any fucking examples. Where are any of us stating that a particular example of gender segregation in the West is fine but that same segregation is wrong if it is practiced by Muslims?

    One fucking example?

  35. Shatterface says

    No, that’s a misreading of what I said. I know you’re trying to be provocative but no I do not think “the men would rape the women”

    Really?

    But that’s exactly the same as one reason why some muslim women select gender-segregated areas in public – they too have standards of decency and safety with regard to men

    And this from 28:

    I really do not know if muslim women would be more likely to be assaulted if they sat in non-segregated areas or not, or whether their choice might have an impact on their safety outside the room, and I don’t know where the threat if any might come from.

    What’s that supposed to mean if you don’t think a fully clothed woman in a lecture hall full of Muslims is as vulnerable to sexual assault as a naked woman in a changing room?

    But that’s exactly the same as one reason why some muslim women select gender-segregated areas in public – they too have standards of decency and safety with regard to men.

    have not at any point said that I think western forms of gender segregation were exclusively practiced in the west.

    Yet you keep referring to segregation in changing rooms as if it were an exclusive Western practice.

    See this bit from post 5:

    Men and women tend to have segregated toilets in the UK with some unisex toilets (sometimes disabled, in some places not exclusively). There is no biological necessity for the male/female split, so why have it? Why? Western values.

    Or post 10:

    Changing for swimming often happens in public view, and where it does it is always in a gender-segregated area due to western norms of decency

    …There is nothing biologically stopping them doing so. So why not in an open male/female area? Not because of biology, but because of western norms of decency.

    Or post 26:

    What I’m actually arguing is that certain specific western norms of gender segregation (boys’ schools, toilets, changing rooms, separate bathing areas, men’s/women’s clothing areas in shops, “for him” “for her” greetings cards stalls) are based on rationales that are arguable and sometimes sexist, so westerners aren’t on any moral high ground to tell people whose culture is of non-western origin not to offer segregation by gender in public meetings

    See?

    You are attempting to justify segregation in public lecture halls by pretending Muslims have one set of taboos, Westerners have another, so it all balances out., when in fact Muslims share the same taboos the West have but add a shitload more.

    So as well as being stupid you are dishonest.

    They may or may not be shared in every other culture. But the west is an identifiable cultural zone and it does have its own cultural ideas. It isn’t homogenous but equally it does have a regional identity, which is why it’s identifiable as “the west”.

    And again you refer to the West as having it’s own ”cultural ideas” (i.e. segregated bathrooms) as if those ”cultural ideas” were not shared by Muslims.

    Your problem is that you are posting on a philosophy site and not Facebook and you can’t count on readers to instantly forget what you wrote.

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