What we can do
Christina Patterson accepts a little too much.
I accept that people should, except in certain professional situations which involve dealing with the public, be allowed to wear whatever they like, and that laws which prevent this are self-defeating, and that you can’t stop parents, or rabbis, teaching little boys that adult women shouldn’t even be brushed against on a bus, and I accept that some of these things are an inevitable consequence of a modern, and in many ways magnificent, multi-cultural society.
I don’t think we have to accept that you can’t stop parents, or rabbis, teaching little boys that adult women are contaminants. We have to accept that you can’t forcibly, physically stop them, but we don’t have to accept that you can’t slowly and carefully and fairly stop them by teaching them better. We don’t have to just shrug and say “oh well if parents or rabbis want to teach little boys that women are filthy, there’s nothing we can do about it.” Yes there is, and we have to do what we can about it, just as we do if parents or clerics are teaching children that black people, or dalits, or Jews, or foreigners, or atheists are filthy. We have to do what we can, consistent with liberal norms of freedom and autonomy, to counter ideas of that kind: ideas that are baseless and harmful and at the extreme dangerous.