When open misogyny apparently passes for debate…

This post was written by Dan on November 28, 2009
Posted Under: Feminism,Gender Politics

Next Friday my Students’ Union will host a ‘Playboy Mansion’ themed club night. Over the past few weeks at what is still quite a new University for me I have been more and more bothered by the sexualised atmosphere promoted by the union’s venues. But, with my attentions largely elsewhere (on job cuts, the fact that Joe Glenton is imprisoned just down the road and the small matter of a Masters Degree), this has mostly taken the form of low-level grumblings with like-minded individuals. However, this seems to be the last straw, and our Womens’ Officer, to her credit, launched a facebook group against the theme on Thursday.

I should make it clear that I agree with her, and the campaign is being conducted in exactly the right way. Women (and men) should be allowed to dress however they like, but Students’ Unions should not be promoting such hyper-sexualised objectification. This is not about censorship, it is about what is appropriate for the Union. The fact that some people find it fun should not trump our commitment to equality and liberation. Promotion of such a narrow conception of sexuality compromises that commitment. However, this isn’t what I wanted to post about. Instead I wanted to share some of the appalling comments that have appeared on the facebook group from those defending the night:

“sounds like [NAME DELETED]  needs a good shagging to me….”

“im extremely worried for you girls as you are acting like feminists which is just as bad as being sexist”

But it is scientifically proven that women have smaller brains and less brain cells, as a result women are considered inferior species.”

“you’re just an ice queen in need of a good humping”

i propose that women shud not be allowed to dress up in any clothing. problem solved.”

WTF, get over it you mardy bitches. No one is asking you to take your clothes off. Sort your life out and do some uni work instead of making pointless Facebook groups.”

The extrardinary level of sexualised vitriol aimed at young women who have a problem with this (largely from men, though not always) is terrifying. It’s almost like it proves a point about women’s liberation being a long way off, or something…

The statement which inspired such aggression:

At the start of the term, the SU organised and planned on holding a Flirt event themed as ‘Playboy Mansion’ in Sub Zero. Though this was cancelled, they have now re-scheduled this event for the 4th of December! Why is a Union like ours, which promotes equality, allowing such sexist and degrading events to take place?

Events like Playboy Mansion simply degrade women solely to sexual objects! In the past we’ve had other similar events like Bunny Auctions held in Sub Zero, which were justified by the SU as trying to ‘strike a balance’ between differences of opinion, as it has been argued that some women find such events liberating. However, is this not because we are constantly being exposed and normalised to these sexist views in our daily lives through the media and other sources, that some have come to accept that this is liberation?!

An academic institution supposedly representing the students should, of all places, be the last to organise and promote events like ‘Playboy Mansion’!! Essentially what the SU have done is sell nights to private companies who organise events to make money, without putting thought into ethics or the student welfare. We want our Union to be a place exempt from discrimination towards women. Let’s bin the bunny!

Let’s fight sexism on campus and fight for true sexual liberation for all – Join us in our Campaign to oppose such SU events from taking place!

If anyone wants to add their name onto the list of signatories, feel free to do so by messaging the group Administrator.


• Zeynep Koc (Women’s Officer)
• Hannah Prime (Women’s Committee & NUS Women’s Delegate)
• Balqis Abdulkadir Mohamud (Women’s Committee)
• Kaileigh Clarke (Women’s Committee)
• Emma Milne (Women’s Committee)
• Mark D. Bergfeld (Campaigns Officer)
• George Papaioannou (Ethics and Environment Officer)
• Jevanni Letford (Black and Ethnic Minorities Student Officer)
• Nibras Hadi (Equality and Diversity Officer)
• Robert Wayman (LGBT Officer)
• Beatrice Blois (Charity and Fundraising Officer)
• Saul Jones (UAF President)
• Elizabeth Mantzari (Stop the War Soc. President)
• Iolanda Gomes (Portuguese Soc. President)
• Sam Potter (Campaigns Commitee)
• Waleed Rahmati (Campaigns Committee)
• Joe Poser (Campaigns Committee)
• Nathan Street (Ethics and Environment Committee)
• Sophie Parr (Ethics and Environment Committee)
• Daisy Blench (Ethics and Environment Committee)
• Munira Abduletif (Equality and Diversity Committee)
• Kate Douglas (General Rep)
• Savin Koc (1st Year Rep)
• Nathan Bolton (1st Year Rep)
• Dan Swain (Mature Students Committee)
• James Burch (UAF)
• Miguel Borba (SWSS)
• Oliver Lowe (SWSS)
• Stuart Burrows (SWSS)
• Tim Allen (Workers Power)
• Rix Payne (Workers Power)
• Waheed Raja (Stop the War Soc.)
• Izzat Shamroukh (PSC)
• Max Morris
• Charlotte Doman (Red Radio DJ)
• Matt Hutton
• Margarida Santos-Silva
• Louis Gigon
• Hannah Rebecca
• Matt Murray (SU Equal Opportunities Officer 07-08)
• Professor Peter Lynn (Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Colchester)
• Anna Rocks
• Eloysius Nightingale
• Carlos Rivera (PHD Student, U of E Psychology Dept.)
Katrina Suzanne Michel

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Reader Comments


I remember when, as a third year at Cambridge, I brought a similar motion to the SU council about similar “ents”. This was challenged in the same way, with certain members of council not being able to see the difference between feminist critique and prudishness. Part of the reason that this has become so hidden is the structural change in the role of students’ unions from being political organisations to simple service-providers. As such, any question of what an SU should or shouldn’t provide is transmogrified into the the limitation of a paid-for service. In fact the Women’s Officer of the union at the time made a spoiling speech in abstention (possibly the worst political option, I was reminded of that last sentence in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus reread through the lens of capital as domination.) But yes, the only way in which we can solve these specific problems is through the proper structural repoliticisation of our student unions.

Written By Jacob on November 30th, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

Oddly I don’t remember this Jacob. Did she really abstain? Sad.

Written By Dan on November 30th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

Well she wasn’t even there, didn’t even bother to read the motion, and yet still sent a speech in abstention. Interestingly, this failed motion was my last involvement with student politics. Didn’t even get a thank you from CUSU after doing lots of work for a couple of years.

Written By Jacob on November 30th, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

Sadly, as a feminist blogger, I can tell you that the blog in question has probably got away lightly with abusive comments. We feminist bloggers lie through this on a daily basis. There is clearly something about the anonymity of the web that brings out the woman-hater in a certain type of reader.

Sometimes it is merely amusing – like the number of people who responded to an article I wrote criticising Jeremy Clarkson to tell me I was wasting my time – and thus wasting their own time in the process.

Other times it is rather more sinister. I did have a series of anonymous threatening phone calls which included rape threats (although thanks to the can’t-be-bothered attitude of the police we still don’t know whether they were related to my website or not).

But then in a way it’s good that we find out what people really think. Hopefully in the long run it will lead to a wider acceptance that there IS a big gender problem in this country which needs radical action to tackle it.

Written By Cruella on November 30th, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

Does anyone have the link for the facebook group so that I can post a message of support to the Women’s Officer?

Or the Groups Administrator referred to in the article.



(PS the previous post to mind seems from the web link to be a commercial ad.)

Written By Grace on December 1st, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

Hope this works:


If it doesn’t I can forward the message to her. We had a deeply frustrating Union Council meeting yesterday, where the Welfare and Sports and Societies Officers defended the night, and even suggested the comments above were provoked and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

I’ll delete the add above.

Written By Dan on December 2nd, 2009 @ 10:14 am
Julie Howorth

Hi Dan, deeply disturbed by this but not overly surprisedm come across this sort of thing all the time in one guise or another. Saw this posted on ukfeministaction.org, by Grace. I’m sure, like me, lots of women would love to make a huge noise about this. What do you think is the best way of going about this? Would you be comfortable with telling us the name of the university – we can then bombard them with emails directly.

Written By Julie Howorth on December 2nd, 2009 @ 10:24 am

If people want to send emails of complaint you can do so to president[at]essex.ac.uk or vpservices[at]essex.ac.uk. I should stress that the majority of the executive is against it now too. If you can CC or BCC campaigns[at]essex.ac.uk then it keeps those of us opposing it informed.
It’s Essex University, as you probably guessed from the emails.

Written By Dan on December 2nd, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

I think the problem is far wider than what happens on blogs but it is as though derogatory comments about women are now the expected norm.

This has been fostered by the media and that fact that lad culture is now aspirational – and in fact rewarded think Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross.

Not forgetting of course the way in which women are depicted and written about in pop culture.

And sadest of all is the fact that young women have now been so conditioned by this onslaught on public degrading of women that they accept and sometimes participate in it.

It seems so strange that of all the liberation movements of the 70s eg Gay Liberation and Black Liberation, that it is only Women’s Liberation that has become the object of public ridicule.

An example of how far the backlash against feminism has gone is that a response to a CiF (Guardian) article was a man saying that feminists are the same as the BNP and white men are the equivilant to members of BME communities suffering racism??!!

So part of me isn’t surprised that young people bought up in a culture permeated with acceptance of laddish culture should think that putting on a Playboy Mansion event is somehow acceptable.


Written By Grace on December 3rd, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

There is some hope, maybe your SU can make links with some of these groups mentioned:

The March on the New Feminists http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-march-of-the-new-feminists-1830514.html

Written By Grace on December 3rd, 2009 @ 3:52 pm
Name Deleted

I’m the person referred to in the post as “name deleted”… Good article, shame I didn’t see it at the time. What a horrid group of people, make me ashamed to be part of the same race. Argh.

Written By Name Deleted on March 28th, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

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