‘Ranty feminist’. That’s how I described myself at a party last weekend, because it’s just easier that way. To me, it says I will rebuke you for a comment that is sexist in nature, no matter how harmless you think it is and I will not make apologies for it. To others it says something entirely different, but in that sort of environment there isn’t always time to explain the nuances of my gender politics. So I set the bar low and hope for the best. And hope, perhaps naively, that once you see I’ve shaved my armpits, you’ll be so confused that you’ll ponder on my application of the F-word and find me later on in the party to ask to hear more.
Certain conversations of my youth stick out in my memory as milestones. Possibly the most important was in Freshers’ Week at university. A particularly mixed-up young man who had the misfortune to share a flat with me was overheard to state that “women who masturbate are dirty.” Challenging his stunted and hateful view of women rated way above not looking like a fruitloop in front of my new friends on this occasion. Suffice to say I tore him a new one and for the next year he professed to finding me “fucking terrifying”.
When Unilad reared its ugly head to a liberal crowd on Twitter last week, some argued that it was best not to bring attention to it. But I, like many others, knew I couldn’t leave this one alone…
“And if the girl you’ve taken for a drink […] won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.”
An extremely shocking line that you might expect to see written on a pro-rape forum in the deepest darkest recesses of the internet, where monsters lurk, but this was written on an openly available and ‘mainstream’ website called Unilad.com. Given that a group of men and women participating in a study at Middlesex University found it difficult to differentiate between statements given by convicted rapists and lads’ mags descriptions of women, I guess it’s hardly that surprising that it’s hard to place it.
The site has been temporarily suspended, but in a nutshell, the stories on Unilad have been inspired by ‘real-life’ stories in lads’ mags like Zoo and Nuts*, which usually involve something along the lines of two female friends who didn’t know they were lesbians until they shared a changing cubicle in Topshop, suddenly finding themselves wet and horny and tearing each other’s clothes off. But Unilads’ stories are not ‘titillating’, they are violent and contemptuous towards the female ‘protaganist’.
In one story, There Will Be Blood, a ‘lad’ is sick on the breasts of a woman whose period comes during sex and wipes menstrual blood on her walls. In Stirring The Porridge: a ‘lad’ pressures a girl who has arrived at his house for sex to make herself available for the whole household, despite her seeming ‘uncomfortable’ with the idea. Terms and phrases like ‘slag’, ‘whore’, ‘she was asking for it’ pepper the nonsensical and grammatically heinous language. I paraphrase as the site has now been removed with an apology.
‘Shell’, a commenter on the Facebook page, has been threatened with rape and murder, which she is now taking to the police. The threat was made by a ‘fan’ of the site, not a Unilad writer, but the page is acting as a forum for men to spew hate speech at women in the name of ‘lad’ banter. These are probably men you work with, go out with, live with. Hopefully not, but the fan page has over 84,ooo fans. How many of those are men that think rape is OK if she’s so drunk she can’t remember if she invited them in or not? Hopefully less than the thousands who think it’s funny to joke about it. Trivialising rape in the media leads to less convictions as the myths that lads’ magazines and tabloids perpetuate enter the public perception.
Call it ‘banter’ if you’re fucking stupid, but whether or not violence is intended, the comment represents everything we should be fighting against in the name of ending violence against women. 1 in 7 women at university will be raped or sexually assaulted. A woman is raped every 9 minutes in the UK. Tell me when this starts being funny?
“We are certainly going to be cleaning up our act on unilad.com”, they say. I very much doubt they have any idea of the danger of their content. They are simply hiding from a very large baying crowd of women who have had E-fucking-NOUGH of this bollocks. I look forward to seeing what the newly launched site has to offer when they’ve crawled out of their fetid holes.
*Pardon the misleading links. But Zoo and Nuts can kiss my big fat lesbian ugly virgin beehind.
Visit uniladevidencemag.tumblr.com to see a running feed of violent language affiliated with Unilad.
Excellent ode to Unilad in the Guardian, by @NaomiMc