Are Swaps Sexist?

Lets face it: swaps are about sex. But that doesn’t mean they are sexist.

Drinking drinking games drinking socie Mahal pennying Sex sexist sexy slags Swap swaps

Swaps are essentially about sex. Anyone who says they aren’t is either naive or… naive.

In hundreds of years social anthropologists will marvel at this Cantab tradition. A group of men sit down with a group of women they’ve never met, throw coins in each others’ glasses and food in each others’ faces until they’re suitably inebriated, and then head to a club – sweat-pouring and korma-congealing – where they dance in a clammy room full of curry-stained strangers.

Swaps: sexy or sexist?

And why? Because ultimately they want sex. We all hope there’ll be some hilarious tales of a drunken shag being giggled around hall the next day. Even if it’s not you that’s having it, you hope it’s been had.

But if swaps are all about sex, does that make them sexist? Girls frequently complain of feeling pressured to behave in a certain way on swaps. You only have to look at a few drinking society names to see their point: the Sidney S.L.A.G.S, The John’s Jezebels (nice biblical touch), the Harlots, the Minxes, the Vixens… the list goes on. The sexier the name, the better – a way of selling the girls before the boys even arrive.

So what’s in a name? On a recent swap I got into this very same (alcohol-fuelled) debate with the president of a male drinking society. Slurring and scantily-clad he protested: “They call themselves slags to get swaps, the girls, they’re worse than the boys…”

He has a point. After hearing of female-initiated games such as ‘leapfrog’ and how-many-sex-positions-can-you-simulate-in-a-minute on swaps, its hard to argue that the girls are just being pressured by the boys. In an odd way you could say the girls are back on top. If a boy initiated these games he’d immediately be considered a chauvinist archetype, but somehow the girls get away with it.

Girls may complain about the expectations of male swappers, and although their society names imply sexism, the balance has been redressed. We still bear the slaggy names of swapping yesteryear but now so do the boys, pimping themselves out with their own derogatory titles – Robinson Rent boys anyone?

So girls, slip into the tight and bright attire and enjoy the feeling of being top of the swap. But, whatever you do, don’t complain of sexism.

Illustration by Claudia Stocker