Discriminating Discrimination

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On page 29
of its 2009–2010
Undergraduate Catalog
, Bryn
Mawr College
makes the following statement:

“In conformity
with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, it is also the policy
of Bryn Mawr College not to discriminate on the basis of sex in
its educational programs, activities or employment practices. The
admission of only women in the Undergraduate College is in conformity
with a provision of the Act.”

So, does Bryn
Mawr College — which does not admit men to its undergraduate programs
of study — “discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational
programs”? According to Bryn Mawr College and the U.S. government,
that would be a “no” (said with a bureaucratically straight face).
In fact, according to BMC, it is their “policy… not to.” Of course,
we all know that discriminating on the basis of sex would not only
be illegal, but immoral, and downright illiberal. So, of course,
Bryn Mawr College would never discriminate based on sex. That simply
doesn’t happen at Bryn Mawr.

Now, I understand
that such discrimination as a college admitting only one sex or
the other is legal discrimination according to the definition
of the law. But to say that Bryn Mawr doesn’t discriminate
or to say that it is the “policy” of the College “not to” is simply

In fact, nearly
every private business, private or public school, and government
office discriminates based on sex — at least if they have sex-segregated
restrooms or locker-rooms. It is not uncommon for colleges and universities
to have sex-segregated dorms. Every individual who is not bisexual
discriminates on the basis of sex. Any time a business, educational
institution, or government entity opts to use a sex-based title
such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. — there is discrimination based
on sex. When the TSA uses only men to do whatever they do to male
airline passengers, and vice versa, there is sex discrimination.
And every time women are denied a stand-up urinal there it is —
discrimination — shining like the glint in the chrome-plated flush
handle. And what about the poor men whose toilets are bereft of
sofas? Will this injustice ever stop?

We all discriminate
based on sex. We might as well be man (used in a gender-neutral
way, of course) enough to admit that everyone discriminates based
on sex, and we do so shamelessly. It is our policy to discriminate
based on sex because we are hard-wired to do so. And while government
makes it illegal to do so in some matters, it apparently blesses
the kind of sex discrimination that is shamelessly practiced by
Bryn Mawr College (and all other same-sex institutions) — its Newspeak
denial notwithstanding.

Only government
(and their allies in the academy) can look us straight in the eye
and claim discrimination is not discrimination. Of course, one of
the definitions of discrimination is “to use good judgment.”

So maybe there
is something to such denials after all.

27, 2010

Larry Beane [send him mail]
serves as pastor and teaches junior high Latin and Religion classes
at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Gretna, LA. Visit
his blog.

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