[ by Charles Cameron — once again noting the value of seeking out parallels before rushing to judgment ]
I’m not in a position to say whether the event at University College, London was “segregated” or not — a Muslim woman who favors separated seating and was present wrote:
As a woman, I should have the choice who I choose to mix with. The organisers were accommodating to all – for those who wanted to sit separately, and for those who wanted to sit together. During the event, 2 men demanded to sit in the women’s section in between the women, after much discussion, the organisers cleared space for them to sit – (there were so many rows), while still trying to respect the position of the women who had requested to be seated separately. A man in particular demanded to sit in between the women in order to ‘challenge their beliefs’
Meanwhile, a man who describes himself as an ex-Muslim atheist wrote:
The evening turned sour right at the outset, as attendees were herded through segregated entrances into ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gentlemen’ sections.
Five minutes of remonstration yielded a slender two-row mixed section for the debauched, with the remaining twenty devoted to good old-fashioned chastity, whilst the five rows at the back with the worst views of the stage comprised the ‘Ladies Area’.
Matters came to a head when two male attendees were forcibly evicted from a section of the auditorium which turned out to be part of the ‘Ladies’ Area’.
Incensed, they raised the matter with the organisers, but were staggered to see the organisers set the guards on them instead, this time with the express intention of evicting them from the auditorium itself for “unruly behaviour”.
This behaviour cited consisted of little more than the temerity to occupy a vacant seat in a public auditorium, and to protest one’s unjust eviction, without recourse to raised voices or physical contact.
Again, I wasn’t there. But perhaps we should think about the Perlman concert and its seating arrangements, and decide that offering seating in three sections, two “separated” for those who prefer that arrangement, and one “mixed” for those with that preference, is a civilized way to accommodate the wishes of a variety of people.
Overkill — or useful heuristic?
- Barclays Center Offers Separate Seating for Orthodox Jews
- Seating by Gender at UK University Debate on Islam Stirs Protest
- For a different angle on the UCL event, see this Slate piece