This is a topic that has come up in Mpls/St. Paul, where there is a large Somali Muslim population. There was
a very good restaurant that was gender separated, and, when people expressed frustration on chowhound, others
stated that it is was actually the women's preference. I posted the response below, but I am curious to hear
what other folks think. Should we endorse cultural relativism or should the people who own the place go by
"when in Rome. . . "?
I wouldn't go to the restaurant, but I accept its existence. That said, it is a facile argument to say that the women prefer it that way. It is a way to rationalize sexism so that it can be coped with by both the oppressor and the oppressed. If you are a woman in that society, you can be angry, which probably feels
futile, or you can not only accept the situation, but claim that it is preferable. It is a system that is
enforced by men, period. If a woman said that she wouldn't mind sitting with the men, you can bet your bottom dollar she still would not be allowed to do so.
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