Port & Policy Rape Row
Tory students under fire from feminists after asking: “Are women who dress provocatively more likely to be victims of sexual assault?”
• Tory students hold debate asking: ‘Are women who dress provocatively more likely to be victims of sexual assault’.
• Women’s Network outraged at ‘victim-blaming’. One member says: “I feel sick”.
Tory students are at the centre of a rape row after feminists accused of them of blaming sex assault victims for dressing provocatively.
Nottingham University Conservative Association (NUCA) held a debate asking whether women who dress more provocatively were more likely to be victims of sexual assault at their Port & Policy event.
The proposed motion outraged members of the Women’s Network who expressed disgust on their Facebook group at the fact that the topic was even being discussed.
Edith MacLean said the poster “made me feel sick”, adding “That’s just awful. Makes me want to crash their event and call them out for how terrible a poster (or even debate topic that is).”
Costanza Bergo wrote: “Can’t the University do something? I’m pretty sure this isn’t acceptable even as a debate.”
The ‘victim-blaming’ row comes a fortnight after Tory MP Richard Graham was condemned for suggesting women wearing short skirts and high heels risked being raped.
But one NUCA member, who was the victim of a horrific sexual assault, defended the society as they “were the only social group who offered me any kind of friendly support in the aftermath” of her ordeal.
The student – who The Tab has chosen not to name – claimed the Union, Women’s Network and University offered her little support in comparison and her attempts at raising awareness of her attack have been rebuffed by the SU.
Luke Black, VP of NUCA, said they invited the Women’s Network and the Women’s Officer Rose Bonner, but neither turned up.
He said it was normal for the society to discuss controversial topics and while he strongly disagreed with the motion, he “was glad it was discussed. It ended up being defeated by quite a big majority”.
NUCA President Thomas Barlow told The Tab he was “disappointed no one from the Women’s Society showed up” as it would have been interested to have people disagree with each other, as is commonplace at their Port & Policy nights.
On why the topic was discussed, Barlow said they “did as we always do” and that all of the committee agreed the topic needed debating and was not put forward because they all agreed with the motion.
The £10 Port and Policy evening is described on the SU website as an “infamous event, set in a hall library, that sees the most controversial motions being discussed, copious amounts of port consumed and inevitable drunken toasts to Her Majesty the Queen and the Iron Lady.”
‘Fuss over nothing’
In the wake of the incident, Labour club social secretary Beth Clare O’Dell defended the Tory society. Having attended the talk she saw no harm in the topic being debated, calling the reaction of the Women’s Network, “a big fuss over nothing.”
She said: “I think the people on the Women’s Network are reading it in a way that they want to read it because its obvious that the poster is not promoting ‘Victim blame’ for sexual assault but merely suggesting that if you dress in a provocative manner you might attract more unwanted attention then if you didn’t.
“Although I don’t agree with this claim, I don’t see the harm in it being debated. I don’t think the wording is necessarily offensive but I guess it could of been worded better if people are still kicking off about it. The poster was obviously not trying to cause offence but promote curiosity to come to the event which is fair play.”