Feminists have frequently called for the opening of all male groups to women. In the 21st century, most people would call equality and equal opportunity a good thing, however it seems that many who are calling for ‘equality’ are actually creating a new double standard. While the Kate Kennedy Club has been forced to accept women, the Lumsden Club has not come under the same pressure to accept men. In this light perhaps it is time to look at the more ‘exclusive’ of St Andrews’ societies in a different perspective.
Demographically, St Andrews has more females than males. The Undergraduate body is divided roughly into 60% female students, and 40% male students. Despite this dichotomy there is only one girls’ club, Lumsden and one co-ed club, the Fellowship. Compared to other societies, Lumsden is still relatively young however it has been going strong, whilst the Fellowship appears to have been losing steam since the end of the 600th celebrations.
Meanwhile there are many more male societies such as, but not limited to, the Kate Kennedy Club, The Kensington Club, The Kennel Club, The Benedictine Club, and the one and only Jewish Fraternity. However, perhaps this greater number of male societies is not so much a reflection of the patriarchal nature of the university, an image that seems to be losing weight as more females are attending, but rather a lack of interest by females to form and join societies.
This year, for instance, the KK application process saw only four women apply. Despite the fact that women made up nearly 70% of this year’s entering class, over 90% of the KK applicants were men. One point to consider is why do all-men’s clubs tend to be the most popular groups to criticize?
In St Andrews, it seems the number one club that everyone loves to hate is the KK. Despite the widespread disdain for this club, it hasn’t actually done anything to warrant hatred. In many cases the KK has actually been beneficial to the University. In addition to throwing arguably the best ball in St Andrews, they also throw, what is most likely, the first ball that you attended during your time at St Andrews. They do charity work and have helped contribute to some of the most memorable events at St Andrews such as the May Dip, by cleaning up glass from the beach prior to the event. Like the KK, the Kensington Club also faces a degree of loathing from many students. Despite the majority of students not actually knowing anything about these groups, except that its members all wear the same tie, these societies are largely criticized for their exclusivity.
The exclusivity of a club is not something that should necessarily be deemed bad. The same exclusivity of these clubs could be said of a group of friends going out for drinks. The only difference is this group does not wear an article of clothing that identifies them all as part of the same group.
Furthermore while people may dislike certain members of the club that’s no reason to dislike the rest of the club members simply from association. Today it is accepted and generally agreed upon with feminists that women be given equal rights as men. However feminists must be reminded that if they desire equal rights, women must also accept equal responsibility, and as a result, must be willing to deal with the same issues and pressures men face. To what extent this is possible is widely debatable, after all, for many, feminism ends with the draft.
For those who advocate for equal treatment and equal rights you cannot place pressure on the-all male groups without placing the same treatment on the all-female groups. If an all-male group decides on their own that they wish to accept females then that should be their choice and encouraged. However bullying and placing pressure on male clubs to accept females should be strongly discouraged and is grossly inappropriate behaviour by any group. Rather than trying to change the traditions of clubs by sex-shaming them, the university should work on fostering an environment that encourages the creation of co-ed or more all-female societies.