Whew! Fightin' words from Ali Eteraz on the Harvard women-only gym kerfuffle. This story is the gift that keeps on giving, there's no end to the scathing criticism of what Harvard did and how they did it. From Eteraz:
"Muslims play a dangerous and stupid game when they start demanding things based on their Islam. Even the most conservative reading of classical Sharia reveals that Eunuchs were allowed to wander freely through the harem. In other words, a known homosexual man who has never had sex with a woman and never will, can make a powerful case under Sharia that he cannot be excluded from the gym hours. (Someone should try this just for fun — lets see if Harvard sets up an Islamic law tribunal!). If you really want to play this absurdist Islamic Law game further, then you have to ask about Lesbians. In most readings of Islamic Law it would be forbidden — haram — impermissible — unacceptable in toto — for a Muslim woman to take her clothes off in front of a known lesbian. But, do you think my good sisters are Harvard are banning known Lesbians, though?....."
Oopsy! Do you think Susan Marine, director of the Women's Center, knew that before she lobbied for the Muslim students?? (There are always lots of lesbians at women's groups at colleges.) But I digress, back to Eteraz:
"This is why the founders of this country hoped that we could keep religion out of the public sphere, because religion opens up to an endless series of interpretations that ultimately just engender divisiveness."
".....These Muslim girls at Harvard were lazy, and now the reputation of other Muslims — like mine — is paying the price, as if the rest of us promote gender-segregation (I oppose it)."
Read the whole thing, lots of comments there too. Ali adds an amusing P.S.:
"By the way, are conservative Muslim men asking to not work out in gyms where hot women are? I think not. This is an indication that just within our conservative community there is an entrenched patriarchy (the sisters feel that they are only “good” if there are no men around, but the men couldn’t care less if they are in a place where half-naked women abound)."
Note to college administrators: Ali half-jokes that the Muslim Student Association (MSA) was behind this campaign. Harvard thinks they' were so thoughtful and responsive to these six Muslim women students, oblivious that this is part of a campaign by a national group - which is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood - to normalize fundamentalist Islam at American college campuses.
Meanwhile, back at Harvard, a number of students are speaking out against the women-only gym. Student Lucy Caldwell writes:
"....the College’s approach in this debacle has been a fumble. Harvard administrators have been tight-lipped on this issue. Not to strive for transparency is to implicitly recognize the charged nature of the policy. The policy was implemented without consulting community members at large and without correcting the discrepancy in resources this creates between the genders..."
"That Harvard’s misguided accommodationist policy may inadvertently divide as opposed to unite the diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds present in Cambridge is regrettable. More dangerously, it bolsters support for the idea that religious fundamentalism (particularly Islam) is incompatible with Western society. Harvard would do well not to make itself a breeding ground for this sort of feeling."
And how many women are using the gym during the women-only hours?
"During women only hours there are usually only two or three women there, leaving essentially the entire facility unused."
Harvard, you messed up.