Offa’s Dyke is that ditch built to keep the Welsh out of Fair Old England. We might think that now we’ve let Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale over we don’t need it any more. That we let Neil Kinnock over might be proof that we still do. But in order to decide whether we should do anything other than just gawp at it – perhaps fill it in, perhaps deepen and maintain it – we’ve got to consider that first use an the reason for construction.
This is known as Chesterton’s Fence. We walk in the wilds and come across a fence, Clearly, this has no use, let us demolish it. But we can only say that if we understand why it was first built. For only by grokking that can we decide as to whether the justification still holds.
Just under 90 per cent of complaints regarding changing room sexual assaults, voyeurism and harassment are about incidents in unisex facilities.
Oh, that’s a bit of a blow to this gender blindness stuff:
Unisex changing rooms are more dangerous for women and girls than single-sex facilities, research by The Sunday Times shows. Almost 90% of reported sexual assaults, harassment and voyeurism in swimming pool and sports-centre changing rooms happen in unisex facilities, which make up less than half the total.
Gender-neutral changing is growing as councils seek to cut staff costs and cater to transgender people. But one MP said it risked becoming a “magnet” for sex offenders and increased the danger to women and girls.
And yes, it’s out of proportion, it’s not just that most changing rooms are now unisex.
So, what was that Fence reason in the first place? Some mistaken idea of propriety? Some thought that men might be the more sexually aggressive part of the species? The point being not that either of those are right or wrong. But that before we decide to do away with the segregation that we’ve been using for some time now – the Romans had separate areas in their baths after all – we do need to decide why it was originally imposed. So that we can work out whether that reason still holds.
It’s quite obviously true that gender blindness in many to most areas of life is the correct attitude. Why shouldn’t men become nurses after all? It’s not entirely obvious that this is so of all of life. There might actually be areas where gender still matters. Possibly when people are wandering around nekkid. Maybe.
No, this still isn’t to judge the answer. It is though to insist that we’ve got to consider the answer before we act. It’s not entirely obvious that we have though….