Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn
This week has seen a spate of controversy surrounding the culture of male entitlement and sexism that exists at St. Paul’s, but also throughout the University.
We are not concerned about the man who made the sexist post – this isn’t the case of one bad resident. We’re concerned about half the college laughed at it and condoned its message. It’s clear there is an institutional failure within the colleges – especially all male colleges – to address a culture of disrespecting and degrading women, and unethical sex.
This event is just one high profile case that fits firmly within St. Paul’s long legacy of degrading women. In 2009 there was a “pro-rape” Facebook group called “Define Statutory: Pro-Rape, Anti-Consent”. The “She can’t say no with a cock in her mouth” graffiti. Multiple reported sexual assaults and rapes. The “animal act of the year” award going to a man accused of gang-rape. And most tragically, in 1977, an 18 year-old woman who was visiting was found beaten, raped, and murdered on the college oval.
Whilst we are pleased that St. Paul’s will join the Elizabeth Broderick review, the fact that students and survivors had to advocate for change shows how reactive the college’s decision was and how the safety of women is always secondary to reputational risk.
It’s clear that segregating wealthy men from the general university community creates a culture of toxic masculinity and entitlement that is inconsistent with basic codes of decency. With such a toxic culture entrenched in the college system, we must ask ourselves whether they have a place at all in the 21 century. [Short answer: No.]
If you want to join the fight against sexual violence on campus and within the broader community – email USyd WoCo at firstname.lastname@example.org