New feature: A degree in sexism

Going to university has made me a feminist, says Cherry Morris

“Do you swallow?” Three tiny little words, so completely unexpected that it took me a while to register what had been said to me. The group around me was already erupting in laughter; the speaker, staring at me insolently, seemed to expect a reply. Unable to think of anything witty or even articulate to say, I simply shake my head in shock and turn away, the boys’ raucous laughter ringing in my ears. I had only sought to warn him that the cash machine that he was using had swallowed my card earlier that day. I was with a female friend; our group had walked a little way up the street away from us and we were alone.

This, a chance encounter at a cashpoint late at night, sums up for me a year that has opened my eyes to the sexism still endemic even amongst the youngest (and therefore theoretically most ‘progressive’) and most educated members of our society.

University College.jpgYou see, last year I began studying at one of the top universities in the country, somewhere that prides itself on producing graduates destined for the most prestigious and important roles in the country; alumni enter the civil service, the BBC, top banks and advertising companies, taking on responsibility for our politics, our media and our money. Students here have achieved top grades in their A levels and are some of the brightest and most motivated young minds we have. So why, I am forced to ponder, do male students here still subject their female colleagues to such degrading and insulting sexist treatment?

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Image of a university college, uploaded by Flickr user Lawrence OP, shared under a Creative Commons license