A recent Head STYC training event has been criticised by a number of students present as bringing up “irrelevant and confusing concepts” in a “condescending manner”, as officers in charge were accused of demonstrating sexism towards men and alienating the male audience.
The criticism is aimed mainly at the YUSU Women’s Officers and their choice to include an explanation of ‘mansplaining’ in their section of the training. ‘Mansplaining’ is a relatively new and controversial term which is broadly defined as ‘to explain something to someone, typically a man to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising’. The term was brought up in a list of ‘dos and dont’s’ which were featured alongside topics such as manhandling and calling out sexism and homophobia.
In conversation with future Head STYCS-to-be Nouse learned of how many students were left feeling somewhat ‘patronised’ by the officers. One student who attended the training and who wished to remain anonymous, stated how “mansplaining itself is clearly a sexist term and there is simply no need to create a gender-specific term for simply being patronising, we already have a word for that”.
The student went on to clarify that “the Head STYC training was, for the most part, very informative and not biased against men in any way until the Women’s Officers stepped up to present. Clearly they feel that women are incapable of being patronising and it just seems to be the wrong image to project to freshers.”
The comment took place in the context of a wider discussion on consent and microaggression. The presenters were looking at a wide range of examples drawing on students’ real life experiences on campus
The Women’s Officers appeared alongside the International Officer Roberto Avelar who also delivered a small talk on microagression and discussed how Head STYCs should aim to avoid and combat offending international students and students from a different ethnic origin.
Microagression is a term which has come to generally refer to the cultural degradation of any member of a socially marginalised group. An example of microaggression would be assuming that a person likes a certain food product based on their cultural/ethnic background or their country of origin.
YUSU Community and Wellbeing Officer Scott Dawson responded to the criticism by stating that, “The comment took place in the context of a wider discussion on consent and microaggression. The presenters were looking at a wide range of examples drawing on students’ real life experiences on campus. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with 94 per cent of those attending agreeing that the training was relevant to them.
I always welcome feedback to help improve the head STYC training in the future, as it is important we keep training relevant and up to date for colleges.”
It is unclear as to whether the training will continue to use the term in the future.