One in Four Students Experience Sexual Harassment

New research conducted by NUS into the emergence of "lad cultures" on university campuses has shown that 37% of females and 12% of males experience unwanted sexual advances whilst at university. I learnt this during a practical session yesterday, and, alarmingly, a lot of my fellow students were either a) surprised the figures are so low (one female colleague told me it is probably "more like 75%") or b) accepting of a 'boys will be boys' ideology.

None of the people I spoke to in this group had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment first hand, but the words of one girl in particular struck me. She told me a male friend of hers had "technically been raped" when he was highly intoxicated and the girl he went home with took advantage of this. His response to the experience? "Oh well, it's not a big deal." This is MAD. I welcome and relish in the recent acceptance of feminism and wide spread appreciation of the work feminists do, but I do think that more needs to be done to help young males in particular feel comfortable enough to speak out about emotional trauma and troubling experiences such as rape.

50% of people asked in the NUS survey thought that females are more vulnerable than males. A male colleague admitted that harassment against men is seldom taken seriously because women pose "less of a threat" and a girl coming onto a guy instead of the other way round is almost an occurrence to celebrate because it is so unusual. But then there is a line between flirting and showing interest, and harassing someone, groping them inappropriately and generally making them feel uncomfortable. This line seems to be becoming increasingly indistinguishable as "lad culture" prevails and grows, with more people accepting this inappropriate behaviour as 'banter'.

Universities need to put their foot down and do more to tackle sexual harassment on campuses, and codes of conducts and sanctions that prevent this activity and punishes those who perpetrate it. This cannot continue and should never be dismissed so easily.

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