Some current and former
inmates residents of St Pauls College at the University of Sydney set up a pro-rape Facebook group, saying they were “anti-consent.” There seems to be a culture of rape at St Pauls, and at other colleges at the Sydney University. It’s not just the Facebook group – there seems to be a whole lot of other “recreational” and social behaviour based around the denigration, and rape of women at Sydney University’s colleges [link]. FuckPoliteness has an excellent rant about it, Hoyden Mary analyses college rape culture based on her own experiences of living in a college a few years ago, Kayloulee (in comments at HaT) describes her experience of living in a Sydney University college right now, Penguin Unearthed worries about nurturing misogyist culture, newswithnipples notices that news.com.au has rewritten the story to downplay the issue of consent, and Jezebel points out Facebook’s appalling standards – it let the pro-rape group stay up for months, but removes pictures of breastfeeding mothers. Gentle readers, welcome to rape culture. You’re soaking in it.
As Mary says at Hoyden about Town, the rebuttal stories, the counterpoint stories, the ones that point out that there are lots and lots of good things about colleges and it’s all overblown and it’s just a few bad boys and the rest are really all decent chaps, and no matter what, IT”S NOT THE COLLEGE’S FAULT, will start to appear tomorrow. But in the meantime, Dr Ivan Head, the Warden of St Paul’s College, has sent off a very prompt response to the Sydney Morning Herald. (Funny how they never respond to rape allegations quite so quickly.)
The College holds all forms of sexual assault, rape or any proven incitement to rape to be abhorrent and we hold in varying degrees of condemnation anything that detracts from the freedom and dignity of women on campus and within our grounds. We at times work night and day on behalf of the women and men on campus to sustain a 24/7 environment in which learning is enhanced and enriched and in which we aim consistently at good, better and best outcomes.
You can go read the rest of the Warden’s response, and you will see that it does indeed hit all the high points. But what gets me is this. Where the hell does the Warden think the rape culture among residents of his college comes from? Does he really think that it just sprang full grown from the
brow dick of Zeus? Or just maybe, is there something poisonous about the college, which turns otherwise decent young men (of course they are decent young men – they come from the best schools and the wealthiest families in Sydney) into misogynist groups who think it’s funny to say things like, “They can’t say no with a c–k in their mouth.” And it’s quite clear that it’s not just talk; women at the colleges report having been raped, living in fear of rape, not feeling safe even in their own rooms. There is something deeply wrong about the social structures that are nurtured within the walls of St Pauls.
But to top it off, this comment that shows that the Warden just doesn’t even understand how far off the planet he is.
St Paul’s College in the University is … one of those rare places in which the radical possibilities of life in a modern ‘secular monastery’ can be explored by an increasingly diverse group of very able students.
He is so deadened to the rape culture within the walls of the college that he oversees that he regards it as a ‘secular monastery’. Trying to cover up rape and rape culture by cloaking it in holiness, is he? Which reminds me, most of those colleges seem to be run by various Christian denominations. The churches who lend their names to these colleges should be feeling deeply ashamed. Do you think they will do anything about it?