Now the diver­sity war­riors have taken Cam­bridge, too

The Sunday Telegraph - - Features -

There is a unique sense of sanc­tu­ary in be­ing around other bi­o­log­i­cal women

When I got to Cam­bridge, I was ready for some se­ri­ous man-ac­tion. School had not come up trumps in this re­gard – bluntly put, no­body ever fan­cied me. (The up­side was that I could fo­cus on my A-lev­els.) Any­way, col­lege was the key set­ting for the new kind of life I planned on tak­ing up – lots of par­ty­ing, posh frock op­por­tu­ni­ties and the ben­e­fits of mixed hous­ing. It didn’t dis­ap­point.

How I used to pity the girls over in Newn­ham and New Hall (anow called Mur­ray Ed­wards). They seemed so des­per­ate to get out. They were of­ten the row­di­est, and had the most ac­tive drink­ing so­ci­eties (sin­gle-sex col­lege clubs that would or­gan­ise for­mal din­ner “swaps” with op­po­site sex so­ci­eties at dif­fer­ent col­leges).

But since uni­ver­sity, I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate all-women set­tings, from gym chang­ing rooms to cer­tain so­cial and pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ments. There is a unique sense of sanc­tu­ary in be­ing around other women – and by that I mean bi­o­log­i­cal women. It can be cu­ri­ously re­lax­ing.

So I was rather sorry to learn that the all-women Mur­ray Ed­wards Col­lege at Cam­bridge has bent to pres­sure from diver­sity war­riors to ad­mit any­one who iden­ti­fies as fe­male. The tiny part of the world that re­mains closed to bi­o­log­i­cal men is unique and spe­cial. It may be off-trend, but I agree with Ger­maine Greer that men who iden­tify as women are not au­to­mat­i­cally women. Af­ter all, wom­an­hood is a deeply bi­o­log­i­cal des­ig­na­tion, a fact that we’ve had to pay for bit­terly over the mil­len­nia.

I have no prob­lem at all with men who iden­tify as women or vice versa. But I’m not sure that a woman’s col­lege based only on “iden­ti­fi­ca­tion” as a woman can re­tain that sanc­tu­ary­like feel­ing.


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