Mark Pickard and Peter Saul, candidates for YUSU Women’s Officer, have been banned from campaigning until 12 March, after making “derogatory and disgusting” comments about women in their election speech at last night’s YUSU hustings.
According to Lewis Bretts, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, the ban has been put in place in response to the large number of complaints received following the candidates’ speech.
Pickard and Saul, who self-defined as women in order to run for the position, were heckled as they made their election promises at last night’s hustings. They pledged to ban “fat women” on campus, and open career opportunities as “housewives” for York’s female graduates.
Janey Stephenson, a genuine candidate for the position of Women’s Officer, stated: “By making sexist comments they have proved exactly why we need a Women’s Officer on campus.”
When asked to explain the purpose of their campaign, Saul today commented: “We are quite clearly joke candidates. The position of Women’s Officer is ridiculous.”
Saul continued: “We might have more sympathy in such a Committee if we were in a country where women’s rights were blatantly discriminated against.”
Although Saul accepted that women had been discriminated against in the past, he believes that in the modern world, there is no inequality between men and women.
When asked to explain the pay gap between men and women, in the context of his arguments, he stated: “Obviously very few women will get highly paid jobs. Men get the highest paid jobs because women always want to take time out to have children.”
Eleanor Hughes, a third-year student who is embarking on a degree in Women’s Studies in September, commented: “This shows a narrow, under-informed and under-researched view of gender equality. Even taking into account the fact that many women take time off to have children, there are still glaring disparities in pay because of discrimination against women, along with other factors.”
Saul continued to say that if gender inequality really is still prevalent, it is “not the University’s place to address this.”
Hughes stated: “Discrimination even takes place here at the University. To understand this, you simply have to look at the pay the porters (a predominantly male group) receive in comparison to the pay the cleaners (a predominantly female group) receive.”
Saul, who claims to be an advocate of free speech, said: “I am happy for anybody to say anything they think as long as they’re not advocating violence.” Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women.
Hughes has branded the way Saul and Pickard have gone about expressing their views as “derogatory and disgusting.”
Stephens, Candidate for Women’s Officer, said she was “glad YUSU is taking the complaints against Saul and Pickard seriously. This proves their policies are not funny in anyway and are genuinely offensive.”