I was surprised by the responses to some problems are easy to solve.
First, I want to thank all those who commented and emailed because they really did help me to rethink the problem.
My first visceral response was that, if the rationale for disenfranchising women from the democratic process is that *men* cannot control themselves around women, then the creatures with no self control should be the ones that are disenfranchised. After all, who wants to be ruled by an out of control democratic mob?
The responses, save one by email, gave practical suggestions for how to segregate the genders and still allow women to vote.
But, I want to ask how people would feel if we substituted race for gender?
What do you think about George Wallace's infamous speech that included the line, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,"? You can hear an NPR story with the quote here.
Why must women cover themselves from head to toe, stay imprisoned in their homes, be denied education and autonomy, etc just because *men* say that they are unable to control themselves around women?
Does segregation eliminate the problem or perpetuate the "otherness" of women?
We now (mostly) accept in the US that racial segregation was bad and that racial integration in all aspects of life, public and private, is a social good. We used the might of our government to impose this social good upon communities who did not accept this.
President Eisenhower sent the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect the Little Rock Nine as they tried to attend a historically white high school. The other two branches of government, the US Supreme Court and Congress, also used their might to force integration upon unwilling southern states.
At the time, southern states used the same defense--that racial integration is just their culture and that nothing could be done about it.
Fifty years later, racial integration did not cause the sky to fall and most people, especially young people, see it as the natural order of things.
So why do we accept analogous arguments today for the segregation of men and women?
I really want to know why gender segregation is different than racial integration and why we should accommodate those who insist upon it.