TRIGGER WARNING: Rape.
“I’d say rape only happens because lasses can’t handle the banter”, “No such thing as rape only surprise sex”, “When people ask me what I do, I tell them I test rape alarms. It sounds better than saying I’m a rapist”. Just a choice selection of comments on the Uni Lad Facebook page which has over 77k likes.
I’m not shocked or appalled. I’ve heard it all before. I’m used to hearing rape jokes. They’re just another ‘meh’ moment in the day along with a “the awkward moment when…” Facebook status or anything Holly Willoughby says. The scary thing is that, unlike the Daily Mail, the site hasn’t been created by some patriarchal media overlord. It’s been made by and for supposedly intelligent male students.
One of its articles this week caused a twitter storm after it published. “If the girl you’ve taken for a drink happens to belong to the ‘25%’ group and won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported.” The bottom of the article had this ‘disclaimer’ “Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’.” Naturally tweeters laid into the site. They faced a backlash from Uni Lad. One tweet even asked if one of the women complaining was a ‘dyke’. Very in keeping with its misogynistic and homophobic style guide.
After ardently defending the article it was eventually taken down, an apology issued and the whole website closed. More pearls of wisdom from the site have been passed around from blogger to blogger since then. .
This is not an isolated case of a messed up uni student, who is now facing disciplinary action from his university. Articles like this keep being printed. Like the London School of Economics newspaper article that promoted ‘donkey punching’ and included the standard “it’s not rape if you shout surprise” line in there.
Exeter University Students’ Union has also been in trouble for printing a joke in one of its leaflets about the number of calories a man could burn by stripping off a woman without her consent. These leaflets were handed out with every ticket bought to the Safer Sex Ball, the biggest event in the Exeter Uni calendar. If the university bodies themselves are jumping on the sexist bandwagon can we be surprised that more and more students are becoming outwardly patriarchal? I mean none of this is new. These jokes have been printed for years in the original Lads’ Mags.
A lot of this LAD culture is harmless ‘banter’ but there seems to be an undercurrent of misogyny where women are just sex toys. To quote the Uni Lad article – if a woman “happily” has sex with a “male after one date” she’s branded a slut. But really the words ‘slut’, ‘slag’ and ‘whore’ are interchangeable with the words girl or woman. With student shops still selling Lad’s Mags and some university presses printing these kinds of things it’s not surprising more people are responding to the ‘jokes’.
I’m sure no SU shop would stock racist publications so why are sexist magazines any different? By using sexist and objectifying advertisements for SU club nights and running events with pole dancers and strip teases just reiterates the view that women, female university students, are there to be had. And like a truLAD you should ‘man up’ and ‘go for the gash’.
For something to change Student Unions need to take a ‘brave’ stand against sexism by doing everything they can to rid Universities of hateful views. Only by addressing this on a national level through an organisation like the NUS will uni students get the message that sexism is not okay, that women are not on this earth to make sandwiches and that saying misogynistic crap definitely won’t land you that graduate scheme.
Written for The People’s Republic of South Devon.