I’m not annoyed either…

My right shoulder is injured. All day I’ve been walking on the far right of footpaths so that if Mark or Peter walk towards me I could ‘inadvertently’ run into them without hurting myself. Not to cause any pain either, just a nice friendly push of disagreement.

Yes, I am going out with Ellie Kuper Thomas, one of the current Women’s Officers.

And no, I don’t think she needs my help, she’s doing a great job herself (and so is the rest of WomCom). If you think this is what caused me to write this, then you are wrong. I don’t have those kinds of beliefs because I’m going out with her; I’m going out with her because we share those (and many other) beliefs. Not that anyone cares – but I’m sure it will come up in comments.

I think Mark and Peter could have done a good job. They could have made it entertaining and made some interesting points and maybe open a debate. Instead, their jokes were just miserable, their point got lost and even their own group of friends barely laughed as their performance went from bad to worse.

No, I didn’t have a particular problem with it being offensive, I don’t think that’s what matters and offensive humour often is the best kind anyway. I didn’t shout abuse because it was offensive, but because it was stupid and a waste of time. They weren’t unanimously boo-ed off because the audience disagreed, because we were all “ultra left-wing” or felt offended, but rather because they had nothing of value to offer…

Regardless, YUSU had to choose one of two paths. Either they dismiss their claim of transsexuality upfront and take them off the ballot – but telling people how they have to self-define is treading in dangerous waters.

Or, they take them seriously throughout and so don’t pick and choose which lines count as ‘humour’ and which don’t. This is the path they chose: “All men are rapists”, “death to men”, “banning fat women” etc; all this has to be taken seriously now. Maybe it even qualifies as hate-speech and should be reported. I don’t think I really agree with hate-speech laws, but then again I disagree with the smoking ban and still enjoy smoke-free pubs.

I do believe in some healthy revenge though and hope yesterday’s performance will haunt them back when they start looking for jobs.

I think Women’s Committee is important. Yes, men and women are almost always equal under the law, but they are still often judged very differently. Of course you can’t force people not to do that, but this isn’t what WomCom is trying to do anyway.

What you can do though is open up the debate, demystify opinions and try to reason with people, which is exactly what events like Tell., the Living Library, Mind the Gap etc. are doing. I did help with some of the geeky aspects of those events and yes, that was partly to help Ellie, but also because I enjoy it and think that it’s worthwhile.

But I also think a men’s committee is a good idea. Sadly, this hasn’t been set up, but I’m not sure you can really blame YUSU for that.

Charlotte and Janey seem very open to male participation, and most WomCom campaigns are directed at all genders. Maybe once there is sufficient male participation, they will realise that there are some male specific issues too and a new committee will branch off. Or maybe it will just start independently.

But either way, I don’t think it’ll face too much opposition and would just become a part of YUSU Welfare. Look at Manchester’s MENS, they work on issues “from testicular cancer to the high rates of male depression and suicide” and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. Just like LGBT and Women’s currently work together for liberation campaigns, a Men’s Committee could join in on gender equality and many other campaigns.

All the sub-groups of YUSU Welfare have very similar aims even if sometimes directed at different parts of the student population. A Men’s committee would just improve this.

In the end, I really think Mark and Peter actually did a favour to Women’s Committee. It not only raised their profile, but also showed them how much support they actually have. Yesterday was a good day for Women’s Committe and a bad day for humour (discounting the amazing performance of Dave Hansen, of course).

21 comments

  1. Excellent article, good for you Achim/Nouse for responding so maturely.

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  2. Mark and Peter could have chosen to make their campaign
    A) a funny one.
    B) one to make a point, such as the lack of a mens officer.

    They tried to do a bit of both, and failed to do either. at all.

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  3. “What you can do though is open up the debate, demystify opinions and try to reason with people, which is exactly what events like Tell., the Living Library, Mind the Gap etc. are doing.”

    Platitudinous bilge. Whose and which opinions, precisely, do such events “demystify”, notwithstanding the inherent and overwhelming liberal arrogance in the term itself? Or are we simply in Guardianista mode of making ourself feel better by discussing the issue with like minded milquetoast liberals and pretending that the intellectual circle jerk accruing is of any wider benefit? Is there any single fucntion of “WomCom” upon which the University relies? And, since the information isn’t online, how much student money does “WomCom” consume p.a. without the assent of the wider student body, and what procedures exist to make this feminist cabal financially accountable?

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  4. 3 Mar ’10 at 6:04 pm

    General Alexander

    I bet these boys regret their little performance when they Google their name in a few years’ time.

    And just in case this page doesn’t index properly, I believe their names are… ahem… Peter Saul and Mark Pickard.

    Yes future employers; you really want these on your payroll. Gents; stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Comment edited by a moderator

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  5. I think that WomCom perform an important welfare and campaign role (both for campus issues and for womens lib issues globally). I think that the point about having a mens committee is a very good one. Either setting up a mens committee or having a gender equality committee with womens and mens sub committees could be beneficial for welfare on campus.

    As for Pickard and Saul, well what is there to say? If you’re going to be a joke canidate be funny, if you are going to make a point make one! I’m sure they’ll regret this in the future.

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  6. What so if someone writes Peter Saul and Mark Pickard and then an employer searches the names Peter Saul and Mark Pickard then they will see that Peter Saul and Mark Pickard were offensive and sexist during a serious election and then they won’t give Peter Saul and Mark Pickard a job? Peter Saul and Mark Pickard must be absolutley gutted, maybe they will even change their names from Peter Saul and Mark Pickard, although I wouldn’t want to because Peter Saul and Mark Pickard are such nice names.

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  7. 3 Mar ’10 at 10:35 pm

    A. Politician

    I can’t work out whether or not the point was to cause offence and create a scandal for the hell of it, or whether there was intent to make a serious point here.

    This candidacy could’ve been taken seriously – it raises questions about ‘self-definition’ and could gather pretty strong support from men and women for setting up a mens committee.

    If the aim was comedy, maybe a humerous pantomime-dame style appearance might’ve got a few more laughs and a bit less abuse, who knows!

    That being said, they haven’t broken campaign rules (self-definition is non-biological and stupid policies are allowed ie: aiming a cannon at VCs house) so should be allowed to continue running and campaigning.
    Thanks to YSTV there’s no covering up this embarrassment though!

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  8. Great comment, Marina…yes, Peter Saul and Mark Pickard (to continue your good work) are behaving in a way that I hope will cause them a lot of embarrassment in future job interviews.

    I hope, along with Achim, that an accidental effect of their misguided efforts will be a recognition in the university of the need for a welfare committee to deal with male-specific issues, but clearly this wasn’t anywhere near their tiny minds when they came up with policies like male-only parking spaces, an idea that is offensive to all genders. I should stress that I’m not talking in my GSA capacity (we can’t get involved in your undergrad elections fun), but personally and as a member of womcom I’m concerned that women are still seen as an acceptable target of discrimination and that if we don’t laugh along with the men, we’re stuck-up angry feminists. Anger is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a cliche, but imagine the (justified) uproar if a white person ran for BME officer in the name of ‘banter’ and proposed white only parking spaces. The candidates in question would get serious black marks against their name, if, that is, they weren’t expelled first. Also interesting to note that they claim to self-define as women on their facebook group, yet when I clicked Peter’s profile he defines there as male…

    Apart from supporting Janey and Charlotte and of course, humiliating these two (although they seem to be doing a good job themselves so far), you can also email the YUSU returning officer to lodge a complaint. I’m not sure who this is but I’m going to find out and write to them so that they have to open an investigation. The address is [email protected], or you can get a complaints form from the YUSU office.

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  9. Oh, I hadn’t read the other article saying they’d been banned from campaigning when I commented urging people to complain. Hooray!

    Also, Hythlodaues’s comment is a laugh riot. ‘Feminist cabal’, really, you spoil us!

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  10. Excellent commentary Achim.

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  11. I agree with much of the above and would like to commend you Achim.

    I also have something else to say that I think is worth saying. I will be voting for Charlotte and Janey, I was contacted weeks ago by Charlotte in her efforts to get more men involved in women’s committee. I attended one of the WomCom meetings and found it to be enlightening, enjoyable and worthwhile. I’ve previously gone to clothes swaps (where they have always had a limited range of male items available), the Tell launch party, I cycled past reclaim the night which was fantastically loud and well attended by a mix of genders and most recently I was part of the living library. My experience has shown WomCom to be one of the most progressive and engaging committees on campus and in my opinion they are a paradigm of everything a liberation committee should be.

    On the issue of some sort of ManCom, I’d love to see it go to UGM, but I myself don’t see a sufficiently large amount of male issues that can’t be dealt with in some respect by the welfare officer. I think it is important that we treat gender equality with respect and perhaps a male position on such a committee would be useful, but is it currently an issue worthy of liberation, almost certainly not.

    Finally with regards to the incident itself, I think it worthwhile pointing out that the individuals in question requested on Monday for WomCom hustings to be moved to Wednesday initially and when that failed they requested that it be moved later in the running order of Tuesday hustings on the basis that they both wanted to be there; I admire the commitment of both Mark and Peter to absolutely destroying their reputations.

    Their ban from campaigning is well justified and a good call from the returning officers.

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  12. Playing Devil’s Adocate, you could argue that the voting system is supposed to be democratic, and if the BNP are allowed to take part in local and general elections, it would surely have been no more of an affront to let these guys continue to say whatever they liked and just trusted people to vote against them, recognising that they did help to bring a debate to light.

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  13. Pushing the devil’s advocate in the water, you could argue that there’s a constitution that everyone needs to follow and before voting for a party/person who’ll infringe upon it, you need to change that constitution.

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  14. Look, although many of you wont believe me but Mark Pickard and Peter saul are really lovely guys, who are both quite intelligent (although perhaps not so intelligent the other night). Yes the other night went a bit wrong, I saw Mark afterwards and he even amited it strayed from the point they were trying to make, but this is really getting blown out of proportion.

    Origanaly they set out to show womens committie for what quite a few people on campus feel it is : Offensive, and perhaps by being offensive it was a acurate parody of this feeling ( Although perhaps that is my own flawed logic). Who knows? I personaly find the idea of womens committie as offensive as all women short lists, but then there are others who feel differently

    When did becomeing offended actually matter? Its a social constraint and what offended one may not offend another. This has all become far too silly.

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  15. Ok, so you’re offended by womens’ committee – who campaign for better welfare on campus for women and men (such as better lights on campus).

    BUT, and let me get this straight… you’re NOT offended by Pickard and Saul saying women shouldn’t drive and should be housewives?!

    Wow.

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  16. Hythlodaeus writes like a pretentious arse clutching a biro between its flabby buttocks.

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  17. ….to ‘to eve’…she’s not offended because she has a sense of humour and took them ironically!

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  18. It’s entierly up to women to choose if they do or do not want to drive and the same applys if they want to be housewifes, Im not one to judge either way. As for womens committie, I appriciate the work they do, but I don’t want a committie designed just for the needs of one gender, be it even in name only. Im sorry If this makes you think poorly of me, but it is how I feel.

    Also I didnt say I wasnt offended about Mark and Peter, But I did try to point out the fact that they are good guys (although they have messed it up a bit) and they were trying to make a point which went very badly. They were probably trying to parody enfieilds “women know your limits” but failing in all epic proportions.

    As for offence, as I have said what offends one may not offend the other. To be compleatly honest I wasnt too offended by what mark and peter said, because I know them, and know what point they were trying (yet failing) to make.

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  19. Not sure if the writer was aware of this, but turns out ‘Hythlodaeus’ means “dispenser of nonsense”. So maybe not to be taken seriously?

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  20. Yo Achim can you ask Ellie what she reckons about it being called something gender-neutral like ‘gender equality committe’ or something?

    I talked with her a bit about it last year whilst I was making all of my cheese sandwiches and I think she knows that I pretty much agreed with it all, though in all honesty it genuinely never occurred to me to get involved with it because I regarded it as something that isn’t really directed at men. I think the name obviously gives that impression and I was just wondering what she thought of it.

    Obviously I’d drop her a line myself but it’d be a bit out of the blue and I’m really getting into this whole newspaper commenting lark

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