Nicola Dandridge's attempt to defend (2'14" in) gender segregation at some universities' debates has met with rightful derision on Twitter. Nobody, though, seems to appreciate just how disgusting it is.
Let's first dispose of her claim that gender segregation is "not alien to our culture". This is true but irrelevant. There is, as Stephen says, good and bad gender segregation. There's scientific evidence that single-sex schools can encourage girls to become more competitive and to pursue traditionally masculine disciplines - because in mixed schools, girls are primed to conform to sexist stereotypes. This form of gender segregation can promote gender equality by enhancing girls' life-chances.
This, though, raises a puzzle. Sure, some bigots want gender segregation at universities. But people make all sorts of requests of universities; they want them to pay their employees more; they want to stop privatizing their services; they don't want them to co-operate with gun-runners; and they want to enjoy what Ms Dandridge and I got - an education without a mountain of debt. But when students make these requests - in the lively way in which intelligent youngsters do - the response from universities is violence, suspensions and legal suppression.
This poses the question: why do universities meet unreasonable requests with supine acquiesence, and reasonable ones with force?
The answer Ms Dandridge would like us to believe is that the denial of a religiously-motivated request is a breach of human rights. This is self-serving crap. If a teenager sincerely believed that tuition fees were a blasphemy against his sky-fairy, would Ms Dandridge let him enter university for nothing?
Calling a dickhead idea "religious" does not give it legitimacy. And universities - which should be dedicated to rational inquiry - should not be privileging some unscientific ideas over others.
There is, though, two other differences between the demands of the religious bigot and those of the legitimate protestor. One is that the latter threatens the power and wealth of universty bosses, whilst the former threatens only the status of female students. Guess which one university bosses care most about?
The other is that the bigots' demands are backed with the (slight?) threat of real violence whilst protestors, lively as they are, don't threaten real harm.
In this sense, we should be grateful to Ms Dandridge. When universities cave into the threat of violence whilst using violence against the weak, they remind us that our managerialist rulers are basically bullies. And bullies respect not reason, but force.