This post is vaguely linked to my internship as I am concerned about student welfare in much of the work I do. Having previously posted about racism, I thought I would tackle the subject of sexism in higher education.
This morning there was a small segment on BBC news about the idea that sexism is “rife” in Universities. The presenters spoke with a University student and a writer from a men’s magazine. The conversation was short and touched on the experiences that the student had. She told of instances where female students told her of experiences of sexual harassment. Where male students had used derogatory terms to signal their interest in them. The men’s magazine writer said that there had been sexism at University when he was there and it was seen as part of the independent and increasingly sexualised lifestyle of living away from home and being a student. He did “bow down” to the current student’s knowledge on social media such as Facebook and twitter as a means of further insulting women and continuing the sexism in a more public and permanent way.
There are three things I’d like to mention on this subject. First of all there is the “lad’s bible” group on Facebook, in many forms, which is openly sexist and generally rude about women. It mainly mentions “laddish” behavior which consists of getting drunk, pulling girls and making an idiot of yourself. There are also pictures of women used with “witty” captions such as one girl in a certain position and the caption being “think of the possibilities” – Gross. I have read lots of blogs about the lad bible before so I won’t bore you with a massive rant on it.
The second thing I’d like to mention is University Societies and their attitudes. I have personally come across events with derogatory names on Facebook,which are insulting to women, more than once. Upon asking student union representatives there are no rules about this anywhere. They are insulting and yet people do not feel able to speak out for fear of being viewed as weird or in some other way inferior to their student peers for not joining in on the “banter”.
It’s a strange circumstance and one that strengthens my view of University being like a bubble. That is to say that a person’s behavior when they are a student is temporary and is separate to their behavior in other social situations. They are shaped by the experience of being a student but it cannot last, once their 3 or so years of Uni are done, they will find it less reasonable or acceptable to act the way they do (drinking alcohol, staying up until stupid o clock, always having friends around to do things with).
Lastly, my direct experience of sexism in University has ranged from expectations of dress, what girls should wear on a night out (not very much) and being grabbed in a certain local bar/club. There was also an instance where a guy I knew asked me why I thought I could speak while he was speaking, but some put that down to his cultural background and his miss-matched expectation of women’s place in society.
I have also seen it in some male friends, whom I have known from a very young age, who have attended a different University. They have returned home (Christmas break of first year) with a detestable attitude towards myself (an outspoken women, I will admit) and some of my female friends. There were instances where we were “shushed”, spoken over and generally told to be quiet. They seemed to have had their egos inflated by attending University in London. Where, apparently, although intelligent, women are not viewed as academic equals. – Correct me if I am wrong here ladies
Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a link to the segment on the BBC’s website to support this with. Maybe that just represents the seriousness of this debate in society’s eyes. They’re students – let them get on with it.
Uh-Oh! I sound like a feminist.