Women's Issues Youth Interests

What Can We Do to Counter Rape Culture?

Samuel Young

Naked Politics Blogger 

Last week as many university students were preparing for their summer exams, one poor student at Florence Boot halls of residence on the Nottingham University campus had the displeasure of finding a disgusting message left on the floor of a communal showers. The message read, ‘Uni Girls <3 Rape.’

As a human being I was disgusted at the message but, as a second-year student at Nottingham University I was embarrassed that this had happened on a campus that I lived on in my first year and had daily lectures on.

In response to this act, the University Twitter page tweeted that “This disgusting message was removed as soon as staff were made aware of it. It doesn’t reflect the values of the Uni and the behaviour we expect within our community. We’re investigating to find who placed it there.”

This response may have dealt with the original incident but has done nothing to deal with the deeper, underlying misogyny on campus that had bred a culture where certain students think that these types of messages are acceptable.

I was perhaps, naïve to think that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen at university where young men and women study, work and live together. This got me thinking about what is the reason that there are people think it is acceptable to do this sort of thing.

Nottingham-Uni

One of the things I was most angry about was that the perpetrator is still so immature to think that sexist jokes are funny despite being at least 18 and, therefore, an adult. This ‘joke’ would have taken a while to make. There would have had to have been thought about doing it, then there would have been a period of time where the person wet the tissue and made the message and then finally there would have been the decision once it was finished to leave it in the toilet for someone to discover. It baffles me that at no point during the execution of the message did the person stop to consider their actions. The immaturity to not stop and think of the possible effect the message could have on young women that used the communal shower is what is most worrying.

After this event, it is important that the university looks at ways to stop this sort of thing happening again. The most obvious way of helping to pre-empt this would be to give some basic level of education in halls. One thing that struck me when I lived in halls last year was that there was no talk from the staff at our hall about the fact teenage men and women were living together. They spoke a lot about alcohol and drugs but not about shared showers or about sexual relationships between fellow residents. This basic level of education would help people live together more effectively and hopefully help stop another person from abusing a communal shower in such a way.

Glasgow University students protest
A protest on “lad culture” at universities 

The university also has to be sterner if this type of thing happens again. Currently the university is carrying out an investigation but as of yet no one has been held accountable. I fear that as term ends this incident will become forgotten by the time September comes around. The troubling effect of this is that not only has this person got away with it but this perpetuates the issue and makes it look like this is acceptable at Nottingham University. It is not and the university should make this clear, not just with their words, but with their actions.

This was echoed by the President of the university’s Feminist Society, Queenie Djan when she spoke to the BBC. Queenie said that she “feels the uni isn’t taking enough steps to combat views like this.” She went on to say that, “There have been abundant complaints about sexual harassment at our uni and these are falling on deaf ears.” In response, the university said that, “We absolutely refute these claims. We take all allegations seriously, carry out investigations and take action where appropriate.”

I have no doubt that the university does not condone sexism, but the issue is that their responses are not being seen or felt on campus. If they were, then maybe it would help stamp out this kind of attitude at our university. Until then, there are going to be more young women who feel let down by the university.

We will ultimately have to wait until the university conclude their investigation and see how they choose to act. Personally, I hope that the person who sent this message is punished accordingly and the university sets a precedent for how they deal with this sort of disgusting behaviour.

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