Civilization = Accommodating Different Beliefs?
March 6, 2008 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Harvard University has banned men from one of its gyms for a few hours a week in order to accommodate Muslim women who cannot exercise comfortably in their presence for religious/cultural reasons. Some people don’t like it, including, predictably, a well known “news” network. Some people contrast it with another Ivy’s unwillingness to accommodate Orthodox Jewish undergraduates who sought exemption from the university’s rule requiring freshmen and sophomores to live in dorms, which they considered incompatible with the moral requirements of Orthodox Jewish life.

Personally, I’m looking for more hours per week when people would be required to keep their religious beliefs, costumes, and rituals out of my face. Via.

(This may not end well, but one can hope.)
posted by cogneuro (40 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is a pretty flawed way to try to present this as a not-doomed thread. -- cortex



 
Your last two sentences are pretty much a guarantee this won't end well.
posted by mrnutty at 4:13 PM on March 6, 2008


Personally, I’m looking for...

Please tell us more about how you feel.
posted by vacapinta at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your right to have crazy religious beliefs ends where my right to use a public space begins.
posted by DU at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry, meant to label that [Touchy News Filter]
posted by cogneuro at 4:15 PM on March 6, 2008


Wait, we have a right to use Harvard's gyms?
posted by agentofselection at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2008


Some people don’t like it, including, predictably, a well known “news” network.

I read the FoxNews article you linked to. What's your evidence that Fox "doesn't like" it?
posted by jejune at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2008


Interesting that there is a "tolerance" tag but not a "discrimination" tag.
posted by jejune at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2008


Amendment 47: Everyone can use Harvard's gym. Also, free pizza in the cafeteria.
posted by DU at 4:20 PM on March 6, 2008


Bring on the histronics.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:23 PM on March 6, 2008


people would be required to keep their religious beliefs, costumes, and rituals out of my face
They are required not to impose them on you and I concur with you they ought to stop ruining my world, when they do.

But question remains : should you wear a welder mask like Bababui does ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2008


Bring on the thread-closing.
posted by vacapinta at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2008


I heard that Hillary Clinton said something today about how Obama likes to work out there. As far as she knows.
posted by billysumday at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


What, no links to the Crimson about this? Here, here, and here.
posted by rtha at 4:26 PM on March 6, 2008


Wow. It's almost as if this entire post was crafted from an ingot of pure Wendellite.
posted by Avenger at 4:26 PM on March 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Or crafted to givewell.
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on March 6, 2008


Wait, we have a right to use Harvard's gyms?

if you pay, how much is it, their two trillion dollars a year tuition yes, you're fucking right you can use them.

but since we're not talking about an underfunded state university, I think Harvard should build a womens-only gym for Muslims, Orthodox Jews, separatist lesbians, etc. open 24/7 and get it over with, it's not they are exactly PC-impaired there.

the irony is that it's OK to kick people out of the gym in the name of a minority's religious opinions, but if you mention aloud that you watched a burqa-bukkake movie, you're probably going to sensitivity training for at least 3 months.
posted by matteo at 4:27 PM on March 6, 2008


This is Harvard's prerogative; they're a private university, they can set whatever rules they like.

I say this as a Yalie who doesn't mind seeing Harvard do the occasional stupid, stupid thing.
posted by gurple at 4:28 PM on March 6, 2008


Civilization = Accommodating Different Beliefs?

Yes.
posted by flatluigi at 4:28 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


You could be churlish, and look at this as "banning men from the gym for a few hours a week", or you could be reasonable, and see it as "granting women the privilege of using the gym without the presence of men for a few hours a week".

And hey, if you're not allowed in there, you won't have to be exposed to their beliefs, so wouldn't that be a win-win?
posted by padraigin at 4:31 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


They already have multiple gyms; if demand can still be met even when one is converted to female-only, why bother building a new one?
Also, I don't see how this is different from having separate men's and women's locker-rooms, except that they've converted an already-existing gym instead of building a new one (oh no, something changed! I have to change my daily routine!)
posted by agentofselection at 4:32 PM on March 6, 2008


What if I don't like working out around short people? What if I'm a member of a club that, collectively, doesn't like working out around short people? What if we feel really strongly about it? When do they start assigning Minimum Height Requirement hours?
posted by gurple at 4:34 PM on March 6, 2008


I'm amazed people are pissy about this. It's 6 hours out of the 70 total hours the gym is open, and this is only one of Harvard's gyms, the smallest, most unused one. I bet you anything the equipment there is not the most up-to-date either, and basically any women sticking to the policy will only be able to work out once a week. You don't get much more "back of the bus" than this; it's clear Harvard is throwing conservative Muslim women a bone, rather than giving them the whole steak.
posted by schroedinger at 4:35 PM on March 6, 2008


MetaFilter: You could be churlish
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:35 PM on March 6, 2008


Why bother using a gym when there are so many better things to do with your parents' money?
posted by Postroad at 4:36 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


2nding schroedinger...
posted by onepapertiger at 4:38 PM on March 6, 2008


schroedinger, the problem is with this camel's nose under the tent, how much of the rest of the camel -- both in terms more stupid Muslim requirements, and even more stupid requirements of sexist, racist, homophobic, and religiously intolerant people will follow? Six hours here, six hours there, and pretty soon you've given the whole week to these assholes.
posted by localroger at 4:39 PM on March 6, 2008


This is a step in the right direction. But if Harvard really wants to be the center of the progressive universe, here are some other things it needs to do:

Ban condoms in the dorms for a few hours every week so that Catholics do not have to feel uncomfortable in the presence of contraceptives.

Close down the dining halls for a few hours every week so that anorexics do not have to feel uncomfortable being the only ones skipping lunch.

Ban anyone from going outside a few hours every week so that those with generalized anxiety disorder do not get overwhelmed when traveling between classes.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 4:39 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed people are pissy about this. It's 6 hours out of the 70 total hours the gym is open, and this is only one of Harvard's gyms, the smallest, most unused one.

You can't do that. You have to argue the general principle.

If you disagree, consider this conversation a few years down the line:
Admin: Ok, so the Women-only hours are being extended to all gyms and during half of the peak-hours.
Student: What?? Thats completely unfair!
Admin: Well, if you object to the principle, you should have argued that when this policy was first introduced. But you didnt, did you? All we're doing now is extending the hours!
posted by vacapinta at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2008


I agree with norabarnacl3. Let the circus begin.
posted by phaedon at 4:41 PM on March 6, 2008


Wait, I'm confused. Who are the religiously intolerant assholes? The ones whose religion you're calling stupid?
posted by padraigin at 4:41 PM on March 6, 2008


Super, just invite the lady orthodox jews to work out with the lady orthodox muslims. And any other lady orthodoxes. Problem solved.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:42 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


LOLPEOPLEWITHBELIEFS
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:43 PM on March 6, 2008


...see it as "granting women the privilege of using the gym without the presence of men for a few hours a week".

How would this be any different than "granting whites the privilege of using the gym without the presence of non-whites"?

Or granting heterosexual males the privilege of using the gym without the presence of homosexual males?

Somehow those all look like discrimination to me. I don't see any qualitative difference that makes one of those acceptable but the others unacceptable.
posted by Class Goat at 4:44 PM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I swear, they'd better announce some Pastafarian-only hours pretty soon, or else there are going to be some seriously meatballed embassies.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:44 PM on March 6, 2008


Six hours here, six hours there, and pretty soon you've given the whole week to these assholes.

Note: My opinions on this are not aligned with that of localrogers.
posted by vacapinta at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2008


I encountered the same prejudice and closed-mindedness when I was in college and wanted to practice my central religious rite of taking mushrooms and loitering in the women's shower room. You bigots make me sick!
posted by squirrel at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a SubGenius I demand the right to work out away from the presence of pinks, glorps and blank food tubes.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:46 PM on March 6, 2008


PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!
posted by basicchannel at 4:47 PM on March 6, 2008



Somehow those all look like discrimination to me. I don't see any qualitative difference that makes one of those acceptable but the others unacceptable.


Maybe the difference is that your examples are based on fear and hatred, while the religious example isn't, it's just about modesty, which isn't even limited to religious people--women-only gyms are successful all over the country.

I don't know why I'm always surprised at how weird this place gets about religion. One would think I'd be used to it by now.
posted by padraigin at 4:48 PM on March 6, 2008


gurple, norabarnacl3: So do you think I should get to use the women's locker room? If they don't like me there, they can leave. If your answer is no, then can you conceive of the possibility that some women are uncomfortable being ogled in their workout clothes, which are more revealing than their street clothes?
(Disclosure: I am in favor of mixed-sex everything being made available, while single-sex options are still provided. Hopefully someday the single-sex options will be totally unused and can quietly disappear, but while people still feel the need for them, I think they should be available.)
posted by agentofselection at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2008


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