Trinity College goes to war with itself over women’s-only breakfast
Because the right to eat high-cholesterol food too early in the morning is one shared by all humanity
Trinity has degenerated into all-out conflict over a breakfast held just for women and non-binary people.
Proposed as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of women being allowed to study at Trinity College, the now-infamous morning respite has been condemned as “exclusionary” by many members of the college.
The free event, to be held on Monday, was announced in an email addressed to “all Trinity women” as a means of celebrating “you, me, and your trin-sisters”. A photoshoot in front of the recently-placed portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was also planned.
Righteous protest abounded, with passive aggressive statuses, angry posts on the Facebook page, comments from the JCR Committee being leaked to the WomCam Self Care Group and – to top it all off – impassioned emails to the Women’s Officer from both men and women.
Accusations of sexism went both way.
One male student said, “Trinity admitting women into the college is something we should all be proud of … men should not be excluded”.
Another argued that the “event description seemed like retaliation or microaggression”, and seemed to convey the message “we’re weren’t allowed to eat here for 400 years so we want to exclude you to see how you feel”.
A female student claimed she felt uncomfortable with the wording of email: “trin sisters” implies “like it’s exclusive”, “like high school”.
Beth Cloughton, Trinity Women’s Officer and organiser of the breakfast, defended herself: “It is not sexism. Sexism implies social, political and economic discrimination based on one’s gender.”
“Men aren’t being oppressed or discriminated against! If they were really that bothered about celebrating women at Trinity, why not organise something else to do?”
College peacekeepers quickly stepped in to reinstate the Pax Trinitariana, with JCR Pres Cornelius Roemer claiming the conflict had been a “misunderstanding”. In subsequent emails both he and the Senior Tutor made it very clear that that – contrary to the original email – everyone would be allowed to attend breakfast regardless of their gender. The commemorative photo, though, would just be for women.
Speaking to The Tab, Roemer said the issue of gender imbalance greatly affected Trinity, with 70% of applicants being male, putting it down to “Trinity’s focus on Maths, Physics and Engineering, subjects with low proportions of women country-wide”.
The Tab understands that Peterhouse, Cambridge’s college with the biggest reputation for quirky traditionalism and latent misogyny, successfully hosted a women’s only dinner recently without bursting into flames.
Master of the college, Professor Sir Gregory Winter, praised the event since “we would like to increase [female student] numbers further”, hoping the “photograph can be used to encourage more women to come to the college”.