In previous issues of gair rhydd, the issue of the ‘Spotted’ pages has been discussed. The Facebook pages were created and used mostly around exam period, when the University’s libraries are in frequent use by many students.
The pages allow students to message the creator of the page and anonymously post comments, as the page was originally intended for, about fellow students they had been eyeing up in the library.
However, some students believed that the pages got out of control when people began posting hurtful comments and criticisms. Some students even voiced concern that they felt too intimidated to visit libraries for fear of comments that might be made. As a result, many of the pages were stopped or at least censored after warnings from the Students’ Union.
However, the appearance of the new page, ‘Spotted: Sexism on Campus’, has proved that student awareness of what is going on around them, and their ability to post these events in a public place, can help raise awareness and combat sexism.
The page posts comments from students from universities across the country including Exeter, Warwick, Loughborough and Leeds.
An example of things posted on the page are comments about student life that people interpret as sexist, or at least representative of unequal favouring to either male or female students.
For example, an Exeter student wrote: “just read the Exepose’s (Exeter University’s student newspaper) 8 page spread on the Rugby Varsity match between Bath and Exeter. Absolutely no mention of the ladies’ result. I was genuinely interested. A side column would have done. Awful.”
A male student from Loughborough posted: “talking to some girls on a night out, we all seemed to get on okay and then one of them asked me if I wanted to go back with her to her hotel for the night and she grabbed me rather inappropriately. I politely declined. Thinking I had done the right thing and pleased with myself for taking the high road the girl then decided to say ‘You’re a shit guy, all guys want to sleep with someone, are you gay?’ ”
The page voices opinions of both male and female students, posting stories that could likely be applied to both sexes across universities nationwide.
Many of the stories are light-hearted, and in general, the tone of the page is interesting and thought provoking. There are times, however, when posts seem gratuitous and excessively embellished. For example, an Edinburgh University student posted: “I’m on a train […] and there’s a man sitting with his young daughter (about 3 or 4) a metre away from me. He just said to her, ‘so where will you go then darling, Oxford or Cambridge?’ The child didn’t understand the question, so he said, “Oh f*ck it, you’ll end up as a bloody hairdresser anyway, that’s the option for stupid b*nts’.”
Whilst stories like these seem over the top, they are in the minority.
On the whole, the page points out sexism from both male and female perspectives. Living in an age of social media and sites such as Facebook and Twitter that can make everyday events prominent among certain groups in a single post, the page gives a platform to students who are concerned about sexism. It could even be said to help combat sexism by raising awareness.
Generally, the response to the page has been positive and is certainly an improvement on the criticisms experienced on the library ‘Spotted’ pages. As we concluded in our previous articles, the content of the page is mostly decided by the page’s creator, but the ‘Spotted: Sexism on Campus’ seems to have been received positively so far.