I'm sure you will have noticed by now that Loughborough is very much a male dominated university. With our 60:40 male to female ratio, in a sporty university, dominated by so- called "lad" culture, how do women get treated?

Women's sport often comes with a stigma surrounding it, people regularly create stereotypes. This is very different from any male sports, which are broadly accepted across campus. A large amount of people take advantage of the sporting facilities, both men and women feel a huge pressure to stay in shape, something particularly potent amongst athletic females, as was discussed at the Women's network afternoon in November.

Most women cannot live up to this image, often disappointing men who believe that "real" women should be like models. We are all guilty of forgetting that in media, photographs are edited and models usually wear a lot of make up. People feel pressured into creating an image, which may not actually reflect their personality. Unfortunately, it is difficult to stop the objectification of women and alter the way they're treated, particularly on nights out. No woman asks to be treated inappropriately, so why is this behaviour accepted? A common theme of discussion at the network afternoon was the way in which men think it is acceptable to touch women on a night out. When offered a drink, girls often feel obliged to stay and chat to the guy, even if she feels uncomfortable. A lot of this is blamed on alcohol, which may call for closer monitoring by bouncers. It's also good to encourage groups of friends to stay together where possible, to try to limit becoming the victim of any such behaviour.

This year, Loughborough has introduced a Women's Officer, Rachel Dykins, who was "thrilled with the attendance" at the Women's afternoon and there were "many positive perceptions people had of being a woman at Loughborough; although challenges were discussed too." Another prevalent theme was the "experience of everyday sexism, sexual harassment or assault". The afternoon provided a safe, welcoming space to share ideas, feelings and experiences, as well as coming up with ideas on how things can be changed. The most positive outcome from the afternoon was that people were acknowledging the need for change, along. More events like this will be run in the future, so keep an eye out on the Loughborough Women’s Network Page.

Rachel Dykins briefly discusses her role here: "The idea is to be a point of call; represent the views and interests of all female students; encourage initiatives which create an inclusive student environment, free from discrimination. I hope to organize campaigns on the issues of sexism, harassment, women’s safety and in the positive promotion of equality and welfare."

Any problems that men have are not ignored, the new "unwanted" campaign being run by the welfare section of the LSU aims to raise awareness of harassment issues and anti- social behaviour for all students. The women's network won't always hold female- only events, but will be there for all who are interested. For more information, contact Rachel Dykins: lsuwomensofficer@gmail.com or Isobel Ford: vpwelfare@lsu.co.uk with any ideas or concerns.

Katie Wilson


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