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Gender Oppression? Men Not Allowed in University Women’s Lounge

You can just imagine how quickly this would be declared illegal if it were a “men only” lounge instead:

From AEI’s Mark Perry:

From the Michigan State University (MSU) student newspaper in 2011:

There are very few places on MSU’s campus that aren’t open to everyone, but one of them is the Women’s Lounge inside the [student] Union.

Tina Timm, an assistant professor in the College of Social Sciences, feels the lounge is outdated. “This will probably get me in trouble with my feminist friends but it doesn’t make sense to me to have that in this day in age,” Timm said. “If there was a lounge or study area specifically for men, I think there would be a lot of push back.”

Patricia Lowrie, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said the needs the lounge serves have changed with society. Getting rid of the private space would be equivalent to saying women’s needs that are currently being served by the lounge are irrelevant, Lowrie said.

“Women’s needs now are certainly different now than they were in 1925,” she said. “But that does not mean that public space is the appropriate space to serve those needs.”

Opening the lounge to men has been a topic of debate dating back to 1978 when Bruce Guthrie, a history and economics senior, filed a complaint after entering the lounge and being asked to leave. His complaint went on to be dismissed by the by Michigan Civil Rights Commission in Detroit in 1980.

Lowrie said she has yet to hear of male needs that could be satisfied by a lounge.

MP: According to the Title IX portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

For our part, we have no problem with women-only lounges per se. What we have a problem with is the double standard. So often in the world of higher ed, any non-white male group is allowed to have its own special facilities and administrative support staff by way of diversity officers, etc. But anything exclusive to male students, on the other hand, like a hypothetical “men’s lounge” for instance, would be banished immediately, and will all kinds of remonstrations about the evils of sexism and patriarchy.

Many universities have a “women’s center”–a campus facility dedicated to serving female students. Often these centers are run by feminist activists. But we’ve never heard of a university with a “men’s center” or a “men’s lounge.”

The lesson is: Be consistent. Don’t try to crusade against male privilege one minute and then retire to your “women only” lounge for a cup of tea the next.

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