An initiative of the National Women’s Council of Ireland


An Open Letter To The UCD Commerce & Economics Society

October 17, 2013 at 4:38

**trigger warning for rape**

Dear UCD C&E Society,

I have some very serious concerns about your "Rappers & Slappers" event.

Just to make it clear, this has nothing to do with outrage, offence or me being anti craic. It's to do with real, demonstrable harm arising from events like this that perpetuate dangerous sexist stereotypes.

There can be no doubt that this events does just that. "Rappers" in this instance represent the shallow hyper-masculine male ideal, while "Slappers" is a derogatory term for prostitutes, the archetypal dis-empowered woman. But these aren't just harmless role-play characters that exist in a cultural vacuum. They represent extremes of sexist cultural norms, but these are norms that exist today, in the real world. They cause harm, today in the real world among people like you and me.

They cause harm by the perpetuation and glorification of rape culture, rape supportive attitudes, victim blaming, sexist attitudes and beliefs in traditional gendered power structures all of which scientific literature have linked to a greater likelihood of committing rape.

Do I think this event is going to directly causally lead to people being raped? No. Do I think it feeds into and props up a culture that promotes and justifies the persistent rape and assault of women by men. Yes.

Am I taking this all a bit seriously? Is it not just a bit of craic? Yes, and that is the very point. It is through fun, social events and interactions that young men and women learn socially mandated codes of behaviour. Through media, peers and society the young men of Steubenville learned that it was okay to rape their victim. Through a media saturated in images of women as sluts and slappers the people of Stubenville learned that it was okay to blame the victim for the ordeal she suffered, because she was probably a bit of a slut.

But surely your members and guests all know better than to commit rape and I'm barking up the wrong tree? Between the USI's Say Something report and numerous national, regional, and international studies and reports into reported rapes, assaults, and rape-supportive attitudes among college age men and women, there is incontrovertible evidence that a great many young men don't know any better.

It can't be easy to see this as anything but a personal attack, or an attempt at censorship but I assure you it isn't. I don't believe you have malicious intentions, but I think you are not aware of the dangers things like this represent.

It would be best for you to graciously admit that you made a mistake and re-brand the event, out of respect for your female members and women generally.


George Kaar

YES! Campaign For Consent

Formerly Don't Be That Guy Galway