The Spectator’s View: Segregation not the answer for preventing rape

Opinion Apr 17, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Do we ever have a long way to go to become an inclusive and equal society.

Last week, an officer of a prestigious and secretive Harvard social club said allowing women into the men's only club would make sexual assaults more likely. The statement, by a highly educated man, put in writing on behalf of an organization that has not spoken at any length in public for 225 years, is shocking, to say the least.

The comments, made by Charles M. Storey of the famed Porcellian Club, were in response to the Harvard Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault, which said Harvard must deal with all-male social clubs in order to bring about a culture shift. Instead of recognizing the obvious need for change and inclusion at Harvard and society in general, the club fought back, saying: "Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct."

Storey, who has since apologized (his words "came out all wrong") was quickly pilloried on social media. As one Twitter user remarked: "Isn't that like admitting they're rapists?" And another from a U.S. politician: "Instead of blaming women, you could focus on teaching members of your club to NOT sexually assault people." Education would certainly be a good start.

Storey's comments echo those of a 94-year-old Hindu swami who said last week that allowing female worshippers into a religious shrine in India raises the risk of rape and crimes against women.

In a related vein, there was news last week of a women-only ride-sharing company being launched in Massachusetts. The owner said he started Chariot for Women in response to instances of female passengers being assaulted by drivers of other ride-hailing services. There are other examples like this, too, in women-only buses and rail cars.

These services may well prove popular if they help keep women safe, but it is heartbreaking to think that in 2016 such services are necessary.

Segregation is not the answer. Of course women cannot be sexually assaulted in a club or in a shrine if they're not allowed in. But are we seriously saying that keeping women away from men is the best we can do? That men don't have enough respect for women or enough impulse control to keep themselves from groping or raping them? Surely men are better than that. Surely we can all do better than that.

If we want to have a truly progressive and harmonious society where women are equal, they need to truly be treated as equals. This means they should feel secure and be equally represented in boardrooms and in clubs, in temples and on trains. And they should be able to sit next to men without fear for their safety.

Cheryl Stepan

The Spectator’s View: Segregation not the answer for preventing rape

Opinion Apr 17, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Do we ever have a long way to go to become an inclusive and equal society.

Last week, an officer of a prestigious and secretive Harvard social club said allowing women into the men's only club would make sexual assaults more likely. The statement, by a highly educated man, put in writing on behalf of an organization that has not spoken at any length in public for 225 years, is shocking, to say the least.

The comments, made by Charles M. Storey of the famed Porcellian Club, were in response to the Harvard Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault, which said Harvard must deal with all-male social clubs in order to bring about a culture shift. Instead of recognizing the obvious need for change and inclusion at Harvard and society in general, the club fought back, saying: "Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct."

Storey, who has since apologized (his words "came out all wrong") was quickly pilloried on social media. As one Twitter user remarked: "Isn't that like admitting they're rapists?" And another from a U.S. politician: "Instead of blaming women, you could focus on teaching members of your club to NOT sexually assault people." Education would certainly be a good start.

Storey's comments echo those of a 94-year-old Hindu swami who said last week that allowing female worshippers into a religious shrine in India raises the risk of rape and crimes against women.

In a related vein, there was news last week of a women-only ride-sharing company being launched in Massachusetts. The owner said he started Chariot for Women in response to instances of female passengers being assaulted by drivers of other ride-hailing services. There are other examples like this, too, in women-only buses and rail cars.

These services may well prove popular if they help keep women safe, but it is heartbreaking to think that in 2016 such services are necessary.

Segregation is not the answer. Of course women cannot be sexually assaulted in a club or in a shrine if they're not allowed in. But are we seriously saying that keeping women away from men is the best we can do? That men don't have enough respect for women or enough impulse control to keep themselves from groping or raping them? Surely men are better than that. Surely we can all do better than that.

If we want to have a truly progressive and harmonious society where women are equal, they need to truly be treated as equals. This means they should feel secure and be equally represented in boardrooms and in clubs, in temples and on trains. And they should be able to sit next to men without fear for their safety.

Cheryl Stepan

The Spectator’s View: Segregation not the answer for preventing rape

Opinion Apr 17, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Do we ever have a long way to go to become an inclusive and equal society.

Last week, an officer of a prestigious and secretive Harvard social club said allowing women into the men's only club would make sexual assaults more likely. The statement, by a highly educated man, put in writing on behalf of an organization that has not spoken at any length in public for 225 years, is shocking, to say the least.

The comments, made by Charles M. Storey of the famed Porcellian Club, were in response to the Harvard Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault, which said Harvard must deal with all-male social clubs in order to bring about a culture shift. Instead of recognizing the obvious need for change and inclusion at Harvard and society in general, the club fought back, saying: "Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct."

Storey, who has since apologized (his words "came out all wrong") was quickly pilloried on social media. As one Twitter user remarked: "Isn't that like admitting they're rapists?" And another from a U.S. politician: "Instead of blaming women, you could focus on teaching members of your club to NOT sexually assault people." Education would certainly be a good start.

Storey's comments echo those of a 94-year-old Hindu swami who said last week that allowing female worshippers into a religious shrine in India raises the risk of rape and crimes against women.

In a related vein, there was news last week of a women-only ride-sharing company being launched in Massachusetts. The owner said he started Chariot for Women in response to instances of female passengers being assaulted by drivers of other ride-hailing services. There are other examples like this, too, in women-only buses and rail cars.

These services may well prove popular if they help keep women safe, but it is heartbreaking to think that in 2016 such services are necessary.

Segregation is not the answer. Of course women cannot be sexually assaulted in a club or in a shrine if they're not allowed in. But are we seriously saying that keeping women away from men is the best we can do? That men don't have enough respect for women or enough impulse control to keep themselves from groping or raping them? Surely men are better than that. Surely we can all do better than that.

If we want to have a truly progressive and harmonious society where women are equal, they need to truly be treated as equals. This means they should feel secure and be equally represented in boardrooms and in clubs, in temples and on trains. And they should be able to sit next to men without fear for their safety.

Cheryl Stepan