It is so easy, and almost enjoyable, to debate issues of modern female sexuality and the body politic. The controversial YUSU Women’s Officer election exemplified a paradox of progressive attitudes and narrow-minded dogmatism. The whole pandemonium endeavoured to argue that prejudice against women has dissipated.
“Hurrah!” you may yell, “the 21st century has finally embraced the liberalism it has been struggling to understand for the past three centuries!” But, no: Peter and Mark’s attempt at eliciting a ‘non-issue’ was done in such a backward thinking, ‘ironic’ way, that it ultimately served to undermine any purpose they may have had to question WomCom’s necessity. They assisted in demonstrating the exact opposite of their argument: women’s issues are just as potent as ever.
The whole drama of the event was kind of fun. Everyone loved mocking the duo, yet what the theatrical chaos does not represent is the real problem of issues that underlie the economic and cultural web of society, such as gender-salary comparisons. Or how female magazines subliminally make the average woman feel fat, ugly or poor (usually all three, plus a few added doses of sexually conservative and generally dull for good measure). It is an issue the human race may never be able to comprehend: sexual violence.
sexual attractiveness is still somehow conceived as a fault of the woman’s
The new statistics provided by the NUS are alarming and perhaps unexpected. But most shocking is the amount of sexual violence occurring in supposedly safe student campus idylls across the country. The mind-set of sexual perpetrators is too psychologically complex for us to ever realistically understand, and must partially involve the biological power relations inherent between men and women from birth.
What is less scientifically baffling, but equally shocking, is the percentage of women who refuse to tell neither their institutions nor the police after an attack, as they feel that the incident is their fault. We read pre-20th century novels such as Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Pamela with some sense of complacency. “That would never happen today!” you may remark. “We have legislation against this sort of thing now!”
But the terrifying reality is that the attitude still remains; sexual attractiveness is still conceived as a woman’s fault, something that the aforementioned magazines tell us that we must possess.
Whilst we may hail what American feminist journo Ariel Levy dubs ‘raunch culture’ as liberating, the irony is that physical violence towards women is symptomatic of a society still saturated with an acute sense of sexual prejudice, heightened by its desire to bring sex to the forefront.