05/08/2014 Jonathan Taylor

Male students at Guardia Civil expelled for washing laundry in same room as women

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails

And puppy-dogs’ tails,

That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice

And everything nice,

That’s what little girls are made of.

– a 19th century nursery rhyme,

the words of which are still popular today

In an article from The Guardian, a British publication:

It’s not unusual to hear students at a university residence complain about terrible cafeteria food or slow Wi-Fi. But students at one residence in Madrid have added another, less familiar, complaint to their list: a long-standing rule that bans male students from using the residence’s washing machines.

Despite repeated calls for more than three years for a change in the rules, the code of conduct at the Duque de Ahumada de la Guardia Civil residence continues to specify that ‘use of the washing machines by male residents will result in expulsion, ranging from 15 days to three months, from the residence.’

Three years of asking. What could the administration be waiting for? And what are men supposed to do with all their socks and undies?

Male students at the dorm, which caters for the children and grandchildren of Guardia Civil officers, are instead instructed to quietly pass their clothes to female friends to be washed.

And what if the women quietly say now? What if the guy doesn’t have any female friends? What if the entire notion of asking women you barely know to look through your dirty laundry is just ridiculous, not to mention awkward?

The other option for men is an off-campus laundry service which is actually owned by the university. Just one catch: it’s only available once a week. And you must hope and pray that a lot of women don’t decide, for whatever crazy reason, to use it on the one day it is available when they could have been using theirs all week.

There is also the inconvenience that male students would have to pile their clothes into their cars and drive them to the off-campus laundry service, when instead they should just be allowed to do it in the on-campus residence.

And now let’s deal with the predictable deflections, equivocations, and so forth. While this practice is demeaning to both sexes, it is especially punitive to men. Let’s be real: it’s not like the university is threatening women with expulsion for not doing men’s laundry.

Furthermore, the female students themselves requested that the school set up the laundry service this way. Per the article from The Guardian:

…the laundry was set up years ago at the request of female students, to allow them to wash their undergarments.

I suppose it would be rather embarrassing to be throwing your period panties in the wash only to look over your shoulder to see that your crush, whom you didn’t expect to see there that day, had casually strolled in and seen what your dirty laundry looked like.

But here’s a crazy idea: I’m betting that not all the undergarments the young men need to wash are perfectly clean, either. I don’t have irrefutable proof of this claim, but it’s my working hypothesis. One which, I wager, would be well supported by field research.

The association that represents Guardia Civil officers is demanding that the rule be changed. ‘What is being asked of residents is obsolete, unjust, sexist and borderline ridiculous,’ Francisco Cecilia, of the Unified Guardia Civil Association told El Mundo. ‘In today’s world, it makes no sense that male residents would have to secretly pass their clothes to a female or visit a laundromat to do their laundry.’

It’s not the only antiquated rule that the students object to, he said. Male students are not allowed to enter rooms of female students, while others have complained about difficulty receiving visitors, ‘as if it were a prison instead of a residence’ where students pay €465 (£380) a month. Any student looking to change the rules, through taking action against management, risks immediate expulsion.

Some may be tempted to think that this is yet another incarnation of the rape hysteria that is prevalent in higher education and isolates and marginalizes men. But I would disagree in this case, for the reason that the phenomenon is centralized in U.S. and Canadian schools.

So let me tell you what I think this is really about. It’s really quite simple. This is not about a machismo-drenched establishment which persecutes women by forcing them to do men’s laundry, or else. This not about a rape hysteria that treats all women as potential victims and all men as potential predators.

This is about the traditionalist sensibility (if you want to call it that) that women are – and are expected to be – sugar, spice, and everything nice. It’s about society’s reluctance to acknowledge the fact that women – just like men – sweat, fart, piss, poop [1], and occasionally have bad body odor.

Yes, this is about society’s reluctance to acknowledge that women, by default, are just as dirty as men. It’s also, to a fair degree, about society’s expectation that women must always present an immaculate appearance, even if that’s not always humanly possible.

In the context of educational equity the most relevant question is this: are we so desperate to prop up this facade that we are willing to cavalierly disrupt the lives of young men seeking an education and a means to better themselves?

An expulsion for up to three months is a harsh punishment for the offense of washing laundry in the wrong machine while simultaneously being the owner of a phallus. And it’s not like this is a locker room where women are stripping down to their rosaries, either.

Again, it’s really quite simple. We’re all human. We all get dirty. And we all need to be clean.

What more needs to be said?



[1] The evidence is irrefutable. See the compelling mini-documentary here.

Jonathan Taylor
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Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.
Jonathan Taylor
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About the Author

Jonathan Taylor Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.

Comments (3)

  1. If you can dig out an email for the people in charge Jon I would be happy to email them and express my concern over their obsolete and sexist rules.

  2. This would be like have only one toilet – women only! Or only one cafeteria – women only. Ridiculous.


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