Meanwhile, also at UK universities, there’s laddish “banter”…
This week, a video of the men’s hockey team at the University of Stirling appeared on YouTube, showing the male students on a packed bus, engaged in a shouted chant. The chant, filmed on a mobile phone, begins: “I used to work in Chicago, in a department store …” and becomes increasingly misogynistic, racist and offensive as the journey progresses. Now the video has been viewed tens of thousands of times online, the University says it has launched an investigation.
But this video represents so much more than a single, isolated incident. In just two horribly uncomfortable minutes, it sums up the reality of what female students are facing up and down the country – a reality that isn’t going away.
This is not a one off. This is not even unusual. In the last month alone, the Everyday Sexism Project has received more than 100 reports of similar incidents from students at universities up and down the country. It is becoming the background noise to their education. And many of these reports reflect exactly the same attitudes that emerge in the Stirling video. The message is loud and clear: sexism and sexual violence is a joke, and woe betide you if you dare to object, you frigid, uptight bitch:
“The other day in class at university, I was sitting as the only girl in a group of 20-year-old guys, and they started making jokes about how they were going to rape girls after their night out later on … I was really angry, but felt like they wouldn’t listen to me if I said something about it… or tell me to lighten up.”
“I was walking from my university accommodation to the club on campus when two guys started walking next to me. They asked if I was going to the club and I said: ‘Yes I’m meeting my friends there.’ They then asked if I wanted some ‘action’ before I got there and one of them put their arm right round me so I couldn’t pull away. I said: ‘No thank you.’ . They said it was OK they could still do something to me if they wanted because it’s not rape if the woman’s wearing socks.”
And on and on.
Marvelous, isn’t it. On the one hand theocratic misogynists who want the women herded into a separate space, on the other hand shouting “bantering” bullies who want the women silent and legs-open.
Laura Bates sums up:
We urgently need to listen to these young women’s voices. These are just some of the stories we have received in in the past month alone. Though individual institutions are dealing well with events in some cases, we need to step back and see the bigger picture here. Until we do, and until this wave of violent misogyny is recognised as an urgent nationwide problem by University heads, the hundreds of the reports we receive from young women will continue to end in that same, bewildered question – how is this still acceptable?
Hint for the heads: accepting gender segregation is not the way to solve the problem.