College Under Fire for Banning Men From Doing Laundry
Sexism, sluggish bureaucracy, or a simple misunderstanding?
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A university in Madrid is under fire for banning male students from using the on-campus laundry facilities. According to reports in local newspaper El Mundo, men are instructed to ask their female friends to wash their clothes for them, or use the university's complimentary off-campus laundry service, which is available just once per week.
The origins of the long-standing rule at the Duque de Ahumada de la Guardia Civil residence are unclear. What is clear is that it's become a public relations nightmare for the school. That's because according to the rules, male students who use the academy's sole on-campus washing machine will face "expulsion, ranging from 15 days to three months."
The rule is just one of many at the school that has been criticized as overly harsh and out-of-date. That's hardly surprising, considering that the Duque de Ahumada de la Guardia Civil is a prep school for the Spanish Civil Guard—a police force historically known for its rather casual approach to human rights violations. Still, considering the country's recent moves towards more enlightened gender politics, this particular rule seems overly archaic.
We're all for the inevitable paradigm shift in gender-based laundry duties, and on the surface, the rule currently enforced at The Duque de Ahumada de la Guardia Civil residence is blatantly sexist. Still, we feel it's necessary to clarify a few points.
The rule in its current form was introduced when the school's lone washing machine was installed in the female dorm. That happened back in the mid-1970's, a far less progressive period in Spain's history. Furthermore, male students are forbidden from entering the female residence full stop, and it's unclear if the penalties mentioned are for using the washing machine in question, or for entering the female residence to begin with.
A university spokesperson recently addressed criticisms regarding the laundry situation, and while the school does not deny that men are forbidden from using the female laundry facilities, it denies that the penalty is expulsion.
All of this could be a simple misunderstanding, a symptom of sluggish bureaucracy, or just plain old-fashioned sexism. Far be it from us to tell others how to handle their own problems, but the solution seems simple enough: Just give the men their own washing machine. You're welcome.