“If the girl you’ve taken for a drink [...] won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.”
I’ll let you think about that for a moment.
So those of you who are active on Twitter will probably already be aware of the #UniLad thing. According to the Huffington Post UK, an “article” (I use this term loosely) was published on the Uni Lad website, a website “made by lads, for lads”, called “Sexual Mathematics”. From this article, the above quotation was taken. Chances are, you’ve heard comments of a similar sentiment before, boys and even sometimes girls themselves say “It’s not rape if you shout surprise!” etc, making light of a serious subject, the way that many comedians make jokes about race or disability, appearance or nationality. It’s funny cuz it’s shocking, right?
Apart from, this whole UniLad thing… it’s not really funny. It’s kind of just a bit, well… rapey.
Truth is, this what has been deemed “rape banter” isn’t original to #UniLad. Those dickheads have just been stupid enough to put it in print, on the internet, where people can tweet them saying WTF? STFU! etc. Truth is, it’s a popular form of “humour” on university campuses and elsewhere around the country. Not least the ones that I’ve been present on. While I in no doubt want to cut them any slack at all, the UniLad lads are not the first group of young men to openly refer to girls, their peers and contemporaries, as sluts, slags, whores, wenches, or whatever. This is commonplace, and it’s a worry, no doubt. The question is though, is it a crime?
The LondonFeminist was quick to point out that this week has also brought us news of an Irish national being questioned for five hours upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport having tweeted a friend “”Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.” See here for the full article. Mr Bryan, the man in question, was ultimately sent home with his tail between his legs having also been called up on his tweet referencing TV show Family Guy, saying he was going to be in LA “annoying people and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up.” This is, I don’t think anyone can argue, “banter”. No one is saying that Mr Bryan was actually going to destroy America. How would he do that? There’s only one of him and he’s just trying to be LOLZ for his Twitter followers. And yet, he gets punished. The Uni Lads, they are made to say sorry after a barrage of protest on Twitter, but they can put their site back up after it all dies down. This freedom of speech thing, it’s a tricky subject.
So. Banter. UniLad Magazine has been temporarily shut down. It has issued an apology and intends to reopen in just under two weeks. But with regular articles like ”How To Shag Your Lecturer” and ”How to pull a fresher” which has the opening line of: “Fresher girls are especially vulnerable”, is it really ok to let this whole “rape banter” thing slide? Personally, I would hasten to guess not. You only need to look at the Facebook thread following the apology (below) to see that there’s a lot of worrying opinion surrounding the UniLad publication. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humour. On the contrary I think I’m quite adept at laughing at stuff. Not this though, this is misogynistic and I believe it to be influencing boys who are inexperienced with women and desperate to make a good impression on their mates to think that to treat girls like objects who are ultimately worthless apart from in sex is ok when it really isn’t. Should the site really be allowed to reopen? My vote’s on no.
Don’t get me wrong, I think laughing about shocking subjects is an important part of our culture; irony helps us deal with sad situations and break taboos. Rape though, you can’t joke about that when all the evidence points that you judge women by their looks, don’t view them as your equal and think that they, as a whole, owe you something.
This article by AWOT may be something you’d like to read. What do you think?