Hear what I say! Girls keep away!

Don’t mess with… Whatever the fuck this guy’s name is. Is he even a guy? The beauty of online courses is that the York University student complaining about having “to meet [just once, I presume] in person with a group of classmates [some of whom may be women] for a mandatory assignment” could be a woman, a child…

Let’s say he’s a guy. His thing is, he didn’t sign up for an online course in order to rub up against the Whores of Babylon.

The professor and his department – sociology – rejected the student’s request outright, correctly noting that bigotry against women is a no-no at a public and secular university like York. Remember the humongous dust-up last month after efforts to allow gender apartheid at British universities? Same deal.

J. Paul Grayson, the heroic professor at the center of this mess (higher-ups at York told him and the department that they had to give in to the student’s demand), makes the same point they made in England:

“You have to nip this in the bud, because what you’re dealing with here is a basic hornet’s nest,” Dr. Grayson said in an interview. “What if … I said, well, my religion really frowns upon my interacting with blacks?”

******************

The irony of this latest effort to make universities bow to fanatics is that the student, told that his request was rejected, immediately caved. Although he had initially insisted that – as Grayson paraphrased him – “due to my firm religious beliefs … it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women” – he now said

he would “respect the final decision” to deny the request, was pleased with the way it had been handled, and has since met with his learning group.

Of course, the higher-ups at York are still on their high horses, insisting that the university’s all set up to respect people who refuse to interact in the physical world with women.

And the sociologists at York who stood their ground are, I certainly hope, laughing in their faces.

*************

UD thanks Ian.

*************

Update: UD‘s pleased to say that it gets better:

In an October 18 email, the Dean specifically told Mr. Grayson that if he was worried about the “course experience of our female students” he would make sure they “are not made aware of the accommodation.”

What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em, dude. Just shut up!

******************

And just so we’re clear: Events like these help us understand and know how to respond to the idiocy of statements like this one from Katha Pollitt:

[R]eligion is what people make of it.

Grayson, just to be absolutely sure, consulted orthodox Jewish and Muslim religious leaders on this, and both expressed astonishment that anyone would conclude that these religions call for no appearance in the public realm for men if there are any women also in that realm.

Religion, Katha, is not what people make of it. Religion is many things, but not all things. (“What is disturbing is an apparent increasing tendency to view each claim for accommodation as legitimate and worthy of support. Indeed, the notion that not all claims should be accepted would come as a shock to the morally relativistic fingernail biters that roam the hallways in some academic buildings.”) A university dean, gripped by litigation fears when he reads the word religion in an email from a student, may believe that the mere invocation of the word religion constitutes religion; Pollitt may believe that if I happen to “make of” religion the removal of infants’ sexual organs this constitutes religion. The rest of us must follow Grayson’s lead.

‘[Cassandra] Belin did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, a fact that was “deplored” by magistrate Florence Perret, who said that she would have been prepared to discuss a sentence of community service [rather than incarceration] if the accused had been present.’

Fighting in the public realm for your right to have no presence in the public realm is a conundrum.

The Frenchwoman appealing her conviction for wearing a burqa sent her husband to court, or her husband insisted on going in her place or whatever…

This seems to have annoyed the judge, who was apparently ready to hand down a much lighter sentence (the woman – or rather the group of males acting on her behalf – lost the appeal) if the complainant had demonstrated even a faint personal commitment to her own case.

Read My Latest Inside Higher Education Column…

… titled EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED.

Of course, no model of sex segregation…

… is as powerful as Saudi Arabia’s.

Find them by seeking out those silent figures at the way back.

[Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss] are among the most outspoken of the “new atheists”: scientists and other intellectuals who have tired of having sand kicked in their faces by the priests and mullahs of the world. So the scientists are indeed mobbed like rock stars at glamorous sites like the Sydney Opera House. Inside, they sometimes encounter clueless moderators; outside, demonstrators condemning them to hellfire. At one event, a group of male Muslim protesters are confronted by counterprotesters chanting, “Where are your women?”

“[I]n 1986, a federal court struck down a village policy that prevented women from driving school buses there.”

Don’t think for a minute that the gender apartheid we’ve seen in British universities isn’t an ongoing issue in the United States. Don’t think that our homegrown equivalents to the segregationists over there aren’t always trying – trying to segregate buses, trying to segregate parks.

“The following morning, Nicola Dandridge, UUK’s CEO was on the Today programme. Presenter Justin Webb, in a probing, yet reasonable way, put to her the arguments against male-female separatism [at universities]. She rejected them all, alight with self-righteousness. I threw a glass of water at the radio.”

“The glass broke and I picked up the pieces, almost weeping with rage. Such white liberals from left to right need to grow up. By Friday UUK had shed its overconfidence and seemed to be wavering. I predict the guidance will be binned.”

And so it will be, though the glowing self-righteousness with which men and women will lecture people like Yasmin Alibhai Brown (2002 winner of the George Orwell Prize for Political Journalism) about how unenlightened she is to defend equality will persist, glowing ever brighter as one venue for discrimination after another shutters.

Eventually the lecturers will constitute a tight morally superior flame of burqa boosters and women to the back of the room and shut up enthusiasts. How appalling, they will say… How appalling that Europe is voting down burqas and bitching about backbenches

From a Guardian Editorial About Segregation at British Universities

In Britain, segregation of the sexes is viewed as a tool of the patriarchy. It traditionally reinforced a system in which women were deemed to be second best. For women to “voluntarily” opt to sit apart may be their religious right in a place of worship but in a public institution it undermines the hard-fought civic rights of women who, for generations, have battled for equality – and are still battling.

… [W]hat the controversy has again revealed is a profound concern about interpretations of Islam that conflict with a modern civil liberties agenda. Further, political correctness, sensitivity to charges of Islamophobia and commercial considerations (it has been suggested that segregated meetings appeal to overseas Muslim students vital for university finances) block discussions about what should and shouldn’t be inviolate in British society.

Well, thanks to the Orwellian language of separate but equal in the (now-withdrawn) Universities UK document, discussion is entirely unblocked. For years now, in a semi-underground way, women at some British universities have been treated like dogs. UUK, in seeking to normalize this treatment, instead made it very, very public. And when a practice as ugly as this one becomes public, that’s all it takes. Decent people will put a stop to it.

The poorest town in America…

adds another distinction: It has America’s first publicly-financed sex segregated park.

Oh, and even though your tax dollars built it, you can’t go there.

EVERYONE in England is weighing in on the gender apartheid at universities…

… issue. UD has read pretty much everything, and continues to read pretty much everything, that’s being published. So far, the best bit of writing about it is by Matthew d’Ancona in the Telegraph.

d’Ancona rightly begins and ends his piece by recalling Christopher Hitchens, because if Hitchens were alive he’d be writing the best bit. In this enlightenment-warrior’s absence, it’s right to recall him and imagine what he would say.

d’Ancona writes:

[T]his is a test case about much more than fringe events on provincial campuses. It is about the very basis of a pluralist society and what philosophers call “value incommensurability” – the clash between principles, and the dilemmas that such conflicts pose. As a ferocious opponent of theocratic creep, Hitchens argued that secular society was becoming far too emollient and unwilling to defend Enlightenment values against attack. Diplomatic immunity, equality before the law, the right of the novelist to free expression: all are now weighed against the risk of upsetting the theological apple cart.

The segregation row has forced us to confront the friction between religious sensitivities and core aspects of our common citizenship. The heart of the matter is the word “freedom” and its abuse. The original [UUK] guidance claimed that forbidding segregation by gender on campus might infringe “the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker”. This is babble, but it is dangerous babble. It implies that upsetting the religious sensibilities of an individual or congregation – and it is possible to take offence at anything – is a form of censorship.

… Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of UUK, has said that “where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear”. Voluntary segregation? Pull the other one. Hobbes teaches us that fear and liberty are consistent – but only in the sense that “as when a man throweth his goods into the Sea for Feare the ship should sink, he doth it neverthelesse very willingly, and may refuse to doe it if he will.”

I do not believe that the gender segregation under discussion is freely practised in any meaningful sense. It is an expression of theocratic patriarchy that a free society leaves alone in the home and the place of worship – as long as the law is observed – but cannot possibly countenance in the public square.

The crucial thing here is d’Ancona’s disbelief that “the gender segregation under discussion is freely practised in any meaningful sense.”

****************

When you see an eight-year-old girl in full burqa, do you think her behavior is freely practised? I don’t. When you see an eighteen-year-old woman in full burqa – what about that? In what sense is this physically self-destructive behavior (studies show what is obvious: depriving your body of sunlight does irreparable harm) which radically diminishes a person’s capacity for speech, touch, unrestricted movement, and the fundamental human experience of being recognized as fully and equally human by other human beings, of being identified as an individual – in what sense is this freely practiced in any meaningful sense? I have no trouble understanding it in Hobbes’s terms – throwing your human goods into the sea because if you don’t your husband will drown you. I can also make it sort of meaningful in psychological terms, as a subset of masochism. But in social terms I can never make it anything other than a nihilistic challenge to “core aspects of our common citizenship.”

UD’s British Friend Howell Reminds her to Feature…

… the Labour Party’s spokesperson, Chuka Umunna, who was way out in front on the UUK gender segregation scandal. Before any other politician went on record, Umunna spoke very strongly on BBC Radio.

Go here and start listening at 2:45:17.

“I was horrified by what I heard in that report. Let me be absolutely clear. A future Labour government would not tolerate or allow … segregation in our universities. It offends basic norms in our society. Universities are public funded places of research and teaching… There is no place for state-sponsored segregation… We won’t have it.”

It’s all over except for the commentary.

But the commentary is important. The heads of England’s universities just issued an apartheid document. That is stunning. It shocked and outraged the nation, and within hours of this document’s appearance the Prime Minister called it for what it was: A disgraceful expression of separate-but-equal coming from the very custodians of British culture.

When something this twisted happens, you don’t merely wipe out the document (this was done quickly and briskly); you settle in for a review of the circumstances that might have made possible, in the heart of one of the world’s great liberal democratic cultures, this grotesquerie.

And so, in the Telegraph, Graeme Archer begins.

… “Universities UK” … has given succour to injustice-merchants whose politics are just as wicked as those who devised race-based apartheid.

… [Gender apartheid] is alien to the British way of life, and intolerable. … “We’re just promoting tolerance of those who wish to be segregated.” My response to that is unprintable in The Daily Telegraph… [I] despair that creatures exist in British public life capable of writing such moronic “guidance” in the first place.

Oh, never mind.

GENDER SEGREGATION ADVICE WITHDRAWN.

The Prime Minister Says No to Sexual Apartheid.

His office has entered the fray because of the “massive public backlash” against the original segregationist document.

And how do the original segregationists dig themselves a deeper hole? They say things like this:

“It is very hard to see any university agreeing to a request for segregation that was not voluntary and did not have the broad support of those attending.”

Broad support, you see.

I mean, ol’ UD walks in and sees that friendly little SISTERS MAY ONLY ENTER BY THIS DOOR AND MAY ONLY SIT HERE sign, and let’s say she sees several burqas in her mandated section and you know she’s actually strongly opposed to full veiling; she actively supports the French law banning it…

So how awkward. Really, how awkward to find herself in a setting forcing her to identify, to sit only, with this particular group of people who turn out to be her sisters…! Most events of this sort just have people in them – fellow students, faculty, interested locals – but this event turns out to be a family event, and UD is enjoined to regard her fellow segregated women as her sisters.

Yet these women are not her sisters; she is in fact appalled at the way the organizers of the event have forced her into a profound lie about her deepest familial as well as social identity.

Finding it totally unthinkable that she would ever sit in a room and accede to these constraints and manipulations, UD flees.

Still, there’s broad support for the segregation, you see…

Education Secretary: It’s a “disgrace…

… for Universities UK to support the policy of separating men from women at lectures and debates.”

« Previous PageNext Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories