Over the past week we have received complaints from students, about offensive T-shirts being worn on campus. During the weekend of the 1st May, a group of students were seen wearing T-shirts printed with the phrase ‘No Means Yes’ and due to the implications of this message, it has upset a number of our members. Although we have been unable to identify individuals involved we feel it’s important to acknowledge our zero tolerance towards this and explain why it’s not okay.
Individuals may be unaware of the impact of this phrase, but it suggests the idea that consent is not important. Rape Culture is not ‘banter’ and supporting this phrase is not something that should be classed as fun.
Consent is an incredibly important matter and should not be trivialised. We live in a country where rape is illegal and yet still a quarter of woman will suffer sexual abuse throughout their lives. Rape Culture (the normalization of sexual assault in a society) is on the rise and it’s an issue that we need to tackle, not just on our campus, but also within our communities and society as a whole.
Whilst this may not be something that affects you personally time and time again we see incidents that prove otherwise. Rape and sexual assault happen, and they have probably happened to someone you know. Rape is not a punch line and attacks should not be normalised.
These slogans question consent and belittle rape. Rape and consent are not something to joke about and are very real problems that exist. The recent ‘NUS Lad Culture & Sexism Survey’ (2014), found that a quarter of students had experienced unwelcome sexual advances. This is a chilling figure that is simply unacceptable.
People should be more aware of the consequences of supporting ideas such as ‘no means yes’. These messages suggest rape is acceptable, as well as countering the hard work that many people are doing to create a safer society. Yes, this may be a joke to those involved, but there is a clear line between harmless fun and making people feel like their safety is at risk.
So lets get this straight.
It is not okay to disguise Rape Culture under casual ‘banter’.
It is not okay to think sexual harassment is the norm.
It is not ok to disregard basic human rights around the importance of consent.
Vice-President Welfare & Community, Jeni Day
President, Richard Brooks