This recent article is worth some attention from the Muslim community:
Obviously I don’t agree with the author on what gender equity and equality looks like. Nonetheless, there are some important insights for us here.
In this case, the author shows how the coeducation that swept university campuses in the 1970s was mostly instituted by male administrators who wanted to increase enrollment and retain top male students (who preferred to go to schools with easier access to girls). The administrators realized, in essence, that sex sells. Ironically, many of the notable feminists of the time, including Gloria Steinem, were advocating women-only campuses.
Secondly, the fact that gender separation was dissolved on university campuses for the benefit of men is not an anomaly. Erasing gender separation almost always benefits men. It is the primary way for men to take advantage of women. Why? Dozens of reasons. One reason: Men are more comfortable than women when it comes to being sexually involved with someone without commitment or monogamous exclusivity. Someone might protest that I am being sexist with that assessment, but it’s an undeniable fact about the difference between men and women, their different roles when it comes to reproduction, etc.
So given that difference between men and women, what serves men’s desires at the expense of women (as well as the men themselves Islamically speaking) is to put them in contact with as many women as possible. To allow them to mix and interact freely without restriction or barrier. That doesn’t help women in any way. It forces women to compete in a race to the bottom to attract male attention: and that’s exactly what we see among women in our society today. It all starts by eroding gender separation.
Historical examples like college campuses in the 1970s give us much needed perspective on these issues which, today, are clouded by wrong-headed views and rhetoric that do so, so much to fundamentally undermine the interests of precisely the people they supposedly care about: women.