Tag Archives: FAN

Why don’t you, “find out about these camps yourself instead of listening to rumours freshers have blown out of proportion” A feminist story from the UWA Scandal, 48 hours of hell

Written by members of the Feminist Action Network and The University of Western Australia,

The last 48 hours have been a nightmare.

On Friday, the Feminist Action Network was compelled to issue a press release in response to this article, and this one, and the front page article we knew would run in The Weekend West. So what’s this all about?

Allegations have emerged that

Scratch that. We’re not buying into this ‘allegation’ crap. The media has published horrendous details about what one student has encountered at orientation camp. They based their reports on information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and directly from student statements. You can read some of the details here.

Our media release was met with a barrage of comments criticizing FAN from every available angle and we feel we need to respond. One critic urged us to “find out about these camps yourself instead of listening to rumors freshers have blown out of proportion”. Well, now that you mentioned it, we have interviewed a friend about her experiences at O’Camp in 2010. Our friend verified all of the details the media had published and recalled how she was supervised by male leaders that poured goon on her while she showered. She also told us about the ‘taco game’ in which male students ate tuna from a taco that was placed between a woman’s legs.

Need further proof? The Talk About It Survey, released in 2011, questioned over 1500 women on their perceptions of safety, their experiences of sexual harassment and assault and their experiences of how it was dealt with once it was reported. 67% of respondents said they had an unwanted sexual experience. Only 3% of those respondents had reported it to the university and only 2% had reported it to the police.

Surely, in the face of so much evidence, we can accept that university club culture is fostering unsafe environments for students. Surely we can also accept that, since women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment and violence, that female students are particularly at risk. Apparently not. Having moved on from denying the allegations our critics have turned to blaming the victims: “As sordid as these allegations may be, they are between people who are supposedly mature enough to give consent. Their choice to pursue such actions is their own”

OK then. Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment here and return to our interview with our friend.

FAN: Did you feel like you could leave the camp?

That would involve asking the people who had been pressuring you to participate in the activities I hadn’t been comfortable with. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that and I know others didn’t either.

FAN: Why didn’t you refuse to participate?

As a fresher I thought maybe this was what University life was like. I didn’t want to not fit in. The circumstances, the environment and the pressure to participate – students were ridiculed if they refused to participate or decided to go home – I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable to attacks. In the circumstances it seemed like the best thing was to just go along with it.

I know there was girl in my group who decided to leave the camp. After she left she was named and shamed and made fun of. She was the butt of all jokes and when we started university everyone knew who she was and that she had “pussied out”.

We are so tempted to respond to the myriad of other criticisms from, “nothing about sexual assault is sexist” to “mad hippie bitches burnin bras” but let’s pick our battles and turn to this one: “Why has FAN chosen to only speak out only after this flimsy West beat-up?”

Glad you asked. FAN has been agitating for O’Camp reform for months. We have strategies. We have shared our concerns with council. We have met with other students well placed to demand reform. However, it is only now, after the story has broken, that we can share these concerns publicly.

And right now, our foremost concern is for the women who have been harassed or assaulted and are having to read the vitriol on our page. The Feminist Action Network is a collective. We can support each other. We can take it on the chin. But the individuals who have had an unwanted sexual experience should not have to read this.

We cannot address what we won’t acknowledge. We can blame the media, we can blame the victims, and we can pass it all off as bullshit. Or we can take a serious look at our campus culture, and at the data available from surveys like Talk About It, and we can try to move forward.

Our own VC has acknowledged that “there is a pattern of behavior here” and FAN wholeheartedly agrees. We are drafting policy documents, motions for council, networking with supporters and just trying to keep our heads above water. And we will not back down until this pattern is undone.

FAN is a feminist group on campus. You can ‘like’ their Facebook here and head over to their website here

Stop Being Dicks: A public service announcement

Recently there was significant attention given in the Western Australian press to the actions of a group of UWA students who thought it was appropriate to create an event, vaguely associated with a university club, that advertised women’s tickets to ‘sluts’ but not ‘crying sluts’.

Profound men that these were they also included a survey for prospective attendees which questioned the women’s bra size and their capability in the field of fellatio. Because, these women having achieved the goal of attending one of the most prestigious universities in the country, should count themselves lucky to be in the company of the kinds of men which sign on to these events.

To those involved I can only say, most emphatically, STOP BEING DICKS.

No, really, just stop being such unimaginative, misogynistic fucking pricks.

To them, and those that think of engaging in similar hilarity, I inform you of a fact which it would appear has escaped you. Women are people too!

They appear women in shape and size and not simply as walking orifices to be penetrated. They have faces, and eyes and noses and mouths and they all have brains too. Brains that have thoughts, thoughts that you are all just massive dicks.

I don’t even want to accuse these sorts of events of backlash, they’re not that profound or well thought out. These events are not about backlash against the theories and ideas which demand equality, they are just massive, underdeveloped dicks.

Stop being this way, no one really thinks it’s funny and I like to believe that we now live in a world where this sort of behaviour is no longer accepted by mainstream society. A society which has realised what these people have not. That women are not things but people, not orifices but individuals, not sluts but women.

There is, as with most things, a significant downside and danger to these sorts of events. Which is, that these sorts of ideas feed into a concept which says that women are worth less than men. These ideas and events translate into an acceptance and condoning of a society which allows violence against women to continue.

In the Talk About It survey of 2010/2011 86% of women reported being sexually harassed on campus. 67% reported having an unwanted sexual experience. The acceptance of these statistics is an acceptance of these sort of attitudes. To continue this behaviour is to state that women are some how worth less than men. That they  have some less intrinsic value. This is an attitude which must be rejected.

We as a society, as a community, need to stand up and say emphatically Women are people too- stop being such massive dicks.

I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s harmful. And so does nearly everyone else.

As a group we need to stand up to these people. Until we do more than half of the women you go to uni with will experience unwanted sexual experiences. More than three quarters will be harassed on campus. They will be heckled, they will be abused and they will be raped.

Enough is e-fucking-nough .

Stop being dicks.