Feminist Fracas

The Cambridge Feminist Society has been plagued by infighting following a mixed response to a poster warning women to avoid illegal cabs.

feminist rape

A poster warning women to avoid illegal cabs has ruffled the feathers of the Cambridge Feminist Society.

The Society has been plagued by infighting following a mixed reaction to the controversial poster.

The placard in question is a ‘Transport for London’ advert sponsored by the Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police.

However some have accused the ad of laying the blame for rape at the feet of women who opt to take unlicensed taxis.

Cabbin' a laugh: the 'offending' sign

Incensed activists in the Cambridge Feminist Society planned to visit London to sabotage the posters.

However their intentions, discussed on the Society mailing list, caused a flurry of protest.

Other members were quick to express their disagreement with the plan, worrying that it might jeapordise the safety of female travellers.

Colin McSwiggen, an undergrad at Fitz, emailed the thread, ‘This Sunday (the 14th) we're going to go to London and plaster, sticker or marker over as many of them as we can find with something more progressive.’

A later email from McSwiggen suggested  ‘starting right at the beginning of rush hour, so that there will be loads of people on the platform and we'll have the best chance of not being noticed on CCTV.’

Some emails trickled through in favour of McSwiggen’s proposal, but the backlash quickly started.

Siobhan Forshaw, an English fresher at Downing, called the plans ‘horrifically irresponsible’. She responded to the thread, ‘The adverts are simply alerting women to the fact that we have the first responsibility for our own safety, and taking an unlicensed or unbooked minicab is obviously placing yourself in unnecessary danger.’

She continued, ‘I cannot believe that Cambridge students are planning to act in such a juvenile manner and actually tear down some posters that might have caused somebody to rethink what could be a huge mistake with terrible consequences’.

A number of other members subsequently emailed requests to be removed from the mailing list. However it is unclear if these came in response to the plot itself or to the ‘bombardment’ of emails, in the words of one disgruntled recipient.

Ray Filar is president of the Cambridge Feminist Society and admin of the group’s Facebook page. Filar today posted on the group’s wall, ‘Apologies to all those angered by the deluge of email list discussion yesterday. I agree that the mailing list should not be a forum of that kind – emails will be kept to a minimum.’