Gender segregation is one form of segregation that seems to go largely unquestioned. From kindergarten on, boys and girls use different washrooms, sleep in different rooms, and of course, are expected to have totally separate roles.
I can see, perhaps the point to having separate washrooms/changerooms/bedrooms. Many women, and perhaps some men, are afraid of sexual harrassment from the opposite sex. But is this fear based on heterosexist assumptions? And what is the point of segregating children, who are generally not sexually agressive? Do you think this sort of segregation serves a purpose, or does it merely serve to reinforce gender roles?
I think gender segregation stinks. It may be okay for restrooms or locker rooms but anywhere else it's just an attempt to make sure kids don't end up pregnant. I completely agree that it's heterosexist--if society is going to have standards for teenagers about sex it might as well be consistent. Putting gay teenagers in a gender segregated world is just mean, I have a horrible time at camp every year because of this stupid concept. Instill kids and teens with a strong sense of what is allowed and what's not and I don't think there would be a problem if the gender segregation wall came down--after all, I survive every year at camp without jumping on someone in my cabin CI8^)>. Of course there's this whole modesty issue, I don't suppose most straight men feel comfortable getting dressed in front of women they don't know or more so women they know as casual acquantances.
Permanent rooms are another matter completely--I was all to happy to get a room seperate from my sister.
Posts: 356 | From: Phoenix--name that plurally | Registered: Dec 2000
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I think that the idea of sex-segregated bathrooms is silly. I've been at places where there is just one bathroom with lots of stalls for everyone. It's not that weird, because it's not like the stalls don't have walls. Locker rooms are segregated because this society is just so uptight about nudity. When I was a little kid someone told me that the reason locker rooms are separate is because women and men look different physically. A woman wouldn't be interested in looking at other women, because she already knows what they look like. First off, if that were the case straight women would never look at each other in the locker room. That's just not true. Just because you've seen one female body, it doesn't mean you've seen them all. They don't all look the same. Also, little boys under like 6 or something are still allowed to go into women's locker rooms at the Y with their mothers. Assumably, they don't want to make them leave their little children outside the locker room while they change. But it's the young child set in the first place who is really curious about other people's bodies. I know when I was little and I went to the Y with my mother, I always looked at other women's bodies. Not in a sexual way, or because I didn't have my own body to look at, but because they all looked different and had mostly gone through puberty.
In this thread we've talked mostly about bathrooms and changerooms so far. But there are also subtler forms of segregation. Why do adults usually encourage children to play with children of the same sex?
Gender segregation does seem silly. And heterosexist. And outdated. But I've been educated in all girls school for the past five years, and I've gotta say that I have, for the most part, found it an advantage. We are more open about a lot of things-you can walk round school holding a sanitary towel and you don't get some sillytwelve year old boy going hysterical at the sight of it, for example. It would be wonderful if we could be open about things like that even if there were lads around, but unfortunately it's difficult. One of the main reasons cited for single sex education is that pupils are not distracted by the opposite sex when they should be studying. That's heterosexist, I know, and very much so, but it's also kind of true. Well, I've found it to be so. Next year, I'm going to a mixed sixth form college, and it'll be interesting to see what five years in a completely female environment has done to my ability to cope in a mixed one. I hope it'll be OK, but we'll have to see. i could say a lot more on this but probably it would not be intersting, and I have to revise so we'll leave it at that.
Posts: 394 | From: Manchester, Lancashire, England | Registered: Dec 2000
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It has always bothered me that parents want their kids playing with kids of the same sex. I've always been alowed to play with my brother and his friends (my bro is only a year and a half older than me) and even now if we wanted (which we dont', lol) we could probably go hang out wit each others friends with no problems. However, god forbid that I want to go hang out with a guy that I've met on my own.
My parents assume I'm heterosexual which is weird because if I were a parent I would question a daughter like me. But that's society for you.
I think that they do that just because it gets too complicated to segregate by sexuality. If you put the lesbians and the gay guys together, there would be no attraction to each other, but there would be among themselves. What do you do with the bisexual people? Why, bisexual people just want lots of sex, the locker room would be one massive orgy! <me making fun of misconceptions.
Until society and people are ready to be much more open minded and understand what's really going on, it'll never change.
------------------ Brittany Scarleteen Advocate
real poetry is all based on this old myth about this beautiful, scary, trippy goddess who the poet wants to possess but he always loses her to this shadowy other guy - Girl Goddess #9
Yeah, Pixie, I've often wondered what the point of segregation is when it comes to non-heterosexual people. Each bisexual person would need his/her own private changeroom And then, other private changerooms that would hold one lesbian and one gay guy. See how ridiculous this is getting...? I have an idea, hows abouts we all learn to control our sexuality and display our romantic interest in non-threatening ways?!
Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000
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I actually think that too much segregation contributes to people (especially young children) not learning how to interact with everyone healthfully.
Honestly, I really can't think of a single instance -- for myself -- in which I feel I need gender segregation at all, HOEVER, that would only be given that folks learned how to funnction without it first.
This is especially difficult for us TG folk. I cannot even begin to count the number of times that I have been denied something simply because of my sexual anatomy. Most of the time, people don't even realize it's a problem because they assume my physical appearance is all there is to me.
I bought suntan in a bottle at Nordstrom. The clerk assumed it was more girlfriend and said as much. I let her think so because I didn't want to argue. For the record, my girlfriend despises tan in a can.
I bought concealer (not even like I've going out there, everyone needs to cover a pimple, sex/gender not withstanding) and the look on the girl's face when I bought it definitely held some questions.
Everytime I do something nice for a physical female, I am somehow being chivalrous. No, I'm not. I'm being nice to everyone, sex/gender aside. Being nice in some forms should not dictate that I am suddenly a "Gentlemen" or that I need to do something for "Ladies" just because they're female.
I won't even go into the specific numerous times I've had issues buying female clothes, and not even too gender specifics ones. I have never bought anything other than t-shirts, jeans, or a sweater, and yet everytime I pick up something on the "wrong side" of the store, the salespeople feel that it is their job to inform me "Sir, this is the women's section" as if I can't read the signs or that my shopping skills ooze incompetence.
I've always been against gender segregation in schools mostly, especially high school. The fact that males and females are not allowed opportunities to see and socialize with the other gender is like shooting yourself in the foot. It's asking for girls to get pregnant it seems, because they are not able to see the other gender on a daily basis. I guess for some people its good (seperation) but if say, a girl is not allowed to see guys on a regular basis, and not allowed to interact, the chances of her doing something stupid or unhealthy when she is around them seem like they should be higher. Does that make sense at all??
------------------ "Oh God it was years ago I was involved in a medical study studying something medical..." -Saving Grace "Accept Nothing; Challenge Everything"
You're assuming all women are not only heterosexual, as well as that intergender socialization must primarily be about sexual impulses, or relations between the sexes about sex when you say the sort of thing you just have.
Your statement about pregnancy also implies that somehow, gender segregation would be directly related to not knowing about and using birth control, which is pretty specious. Plus, no actual or anecdotal data really supports that a lack of gender segregation has helped in any way with making smart or healthy sexual or interpersonal choices.
I'm not a big fan of all-around or general gender segregation, but the things you've proposed here aren't all that reasonable, nor are issues of heterosexual sex WHY I'm not a fan. people of all genders have MANY and various ways they need to learn to relate with one another, and sex is only one of many, and probably the LEAST likely thing influenced by general segregation since sex -- unlike friendships, workplaces, groups -- tends to be private activity.
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-25-2004).]
In principle, I would prefer gender-segregation to be minimal. I lived in a college dorm once that had non-gendered bathrooms, and that was fine- I didn't find it weird at all, since you were always in a private cubicle when using the toilet or the shower.
Usually, I have found that when gender-segregation is useful, it's because of sexism that has been entrenched in society. For instance, I would not have been comfortable having unisex toilets in my high school, because where I grew up, it was considered okay for men to be more sexually abusive than it is where I am now, and although this was, in my experience, usually verbal, it would have made me extremely uncomfortable sharing a bathroom (which were not constantly patrolled by teachers)- I was uncomfortable enough sharing classrooms. For similar reasons, some women feel that they need to have 'women only' spaces-- and I think thats fine if they need that to feel comfy. By the same token, some friend of my family, pyschologists, often run men-only weekends, which help men deal with issues they face in today's society, and I feel this is a positive thing too.
Although none of these things would be needed if society wasn't sexist to a greater or lesser extent in the first place, I think that used carefully, some of these things can help overcome some of the sexism that is entrenched in society.
Of course, I also feel that it would be excellent to have a less binary view of gender- workshops for all genders, workshops for transexual folk alone and with others etc.
Well I sometimes wonder if I would be better able to deal with men if I hadn't been in an all-girl school from 11-16, and had rather limited mixing in their co-educational arrangement for 16-18s. I don't think I knew any boys at all from 11-16, as I had no social life apart from seeing school friends - I just met no boys, apart from a few friends pre-pubescent younger brothers.
On the other hand, I don't like having to change in a mixed environment. Maybe I'm a victim of my segregated upbringing, but it makes me feel threatened. Whilst I am sure most men would not harm me, I don't like the possibility of an aggressive man being able to get at me whilst I am half dressed. Men are after all stronger, so I feel I would be at a disadvantage if I was attacked, so don't wish to make myself more vulnerable than I already am.
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