Soton students have been sending hate messages in to Catwalk4Consent’s sexual assault survey
They exploited a survey intended to be for victims of sexual abuse and assault
Over the last few weeks, the UoS Feminist Society have been posting a survey for victims of sexual assault to anonymously send in their experiences so it can be used at Thursday's FemSoc Catwalk4Consent event.
However, the survey has been "invaded" by hate messages according to FemSoc president Fleur MacInnes, with messages saying that events like this are "causing the problem" because "everyone knows what is and isn't consent".
One individual submitted a message saying "the reality is that sexual assault is not that common and constantly doing things like this is only pissing people off instead of making people safer" and that because of the frequent events that attempt to raise awareness of sexual assault their "immediate instinct is not to believe them [the stories of the victims]".
A second comment said: "These issues shouldn't be brought to light as a 'normal' thing as it spreads fear among us – I feel significantly more uncomfortable walking around now than I ever have in my life despite the only difference being 'feminists' continually shoving it in my face".
This is the second year that FemSoc have put on Catwalk4Consent – a fashion show which aims to raise awareness for sexual consent, and to deconstruct ideas of victim blaming.
The event is made up of a catwalk as well as an exhibition, centred on the stories of those who have been victims of sexual assault, with the models wearing the clothes that the victims were wearing at the time.
This is not the first time the event has provoked such responses – last year FemSoc also encountered similar responses to their survey, despite it only being the first year that the event was hosted.
Fleur MacInnes told The Soton Tab: "When we open this survey, we read through submissions where people open up to us. Over the last two years, I’ve read submissions about child sex abuse, about domestic abuse, about someone being assaulted by their best friend. It doesn’t get any easier to read them, because a person stands behind each one.
"We need people to recognise that sexual assault is a problem, and a huge one at that. Suggesting that individuals are lying about their assaults (on the survey, or in general) is disgusting and we completely refute this suggestion. It also completely ignores how prevalent sexual assault is in our society – everyone knows someone.
"The Catwalk4Consent aims to remind us that there are people behind these stories. All these stories come from a person who has experienced sexual assault. We hope that this event raises awareness and, crucially, money for Yellow Door, a charity that helps survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
"To the person on our survey who said that our talking about sexual assault makes them uncomfortable, how do you think survivors feel when you suggest that they're making up their assault? This is why we need awareness. This is why we need societal change."’
Catwalk4Consent takes place in The Cube at 7pm this Thursday. It is free to attend and there is the opportunity at the door to donate to Yellow Door.