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Fury at rape joke in student ball magazine

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2011

Exeter University
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Organisers of a raunchy ball at Exeter University have been forced to apologise over an "incredibly insensitive" rape joke which was printed to publicise the event.

The booklet, dubbed "Shag Mag", has been withdrawn over the offensive gag, which estimated the number of calories which could be burned tearing off a girl's clothes without her consent.

In the past, around 2,500 students have attended the ball, where revellers dress in skimpy outfits and are issued with free condoms. Some students have previously raised concerns that the event promotes promiscuity, but organisers have insisted that it does highlight the need for safe sex, as well as raise thousands for charity.

The sick joke was part of a two-page spread on the energy spent on various sexual practices in the leaflet, which is given out with every ticket for the Safer Sex Ball, a charity event to highlight the importance of using condoms. The booklet will now be reprinted without the gag.

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The ill-judged material has been widely condemned and has caused outrage on social networking site Twitter, with members branding it "beyond ugly" and "unacceptable".

Sophie Odgers-Roe, the Guild's Racial Equality Representative, told University website Xmedia that she was "horrified" by the joke.

She said: "When I saw it, I was shocked, horrified and outraged.

"I just can't believe the sheer audacity of it."

She is now pushing for a separate Guild body to examine all publications before they are allowed to go to print, to avoid a repeat of the scandal.

Fee Scott, service manager of the Devon Rape Crisis Service which is based in Exeter, said she was "shocked" at the content.

"It is still amazing that there is such a degree of thoughtlessness and insensitivity about sexual assault, particularly when one in four women will experience rape or sexual assault in their adult life," she said.

"I was pleased to note the speed at which the magazine was withdrawn and the apology was issued but we should all be highly concerned about a culture where such remarks and sentiments can get through an editorial process".

Research fellow Natalie Garrett tweeted that the joke was "beyond ugly" and demanded: "What message are you trying to send to undergraduates? Lead by example."

PhD Medical student Rebecca Wordsworth wrote: "It's not big, clever or funny. Incredibly insensitive."

RAG, the society which puts on the annual Safer Sex Ball, issued an apology for the joke. They said in statement: "We would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by an unacceptable comment made in the SSB magazine. RAG does not condone abuse in any way, shape or form and we're deeply sorry that it was allowed to be published".

The Students' Guild has also apologised, stating the joke should never have been published. A spokesman said: "An investigation is under way, looking at how this happened and ensuring that nothing like this happens again".

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  • GRIBBLE666  |  November 29 2011, 10:29AM

    Some you really need to get a sense of humour it was a JOKE When my dear old dad comes to vist me and my girlfriend the first thing he does is slap Anna's behind and tell her what he'd like to do to her if they were alone this is in ear shot of my mum who laughs and laughs he is JOKING.

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  • oxshire  |  November 29 2011, 12:24AM

    maybe you should wait for the results of the investigation before coming to any conclusions. and maybe actually ask those that were involved before making broad statements about them. some of them were just as horrified when they saw what had been printed.

  • pantouffles  |  November 28 2011, 4:45PM

    The fact that "(joke!)" was written under the original post in the '**** Mag' shows that the writer knew he was on unsolid ground when they fist came up with it. How it then got past the proofing stage is just another worry, and I am glad that the Guild are now investigating it. Also, hypercritter, yes, we laugh at jokes on the television, but we choose to watch them and generally know what the comedian is on about. I'm a Frankie Boyle fan, who is hugely offensive, but his jokes are often said in a way where he doesn't wish to advocate what he's talking about. One of his jokes is "They say that Viagra takes half an hour to work. By half an hour I find the woman has usually managed to wriggle free." There isn't any advocating there. It could be interpreted in a number of ways. This booklet was almost actively encouraging students to follow through the ideas printed within it, and there wasn't room for interpretation. Yes, the argument of 'if you don't like it, don't read it' stands, but it was handed out with the intention of all those attending the SSB reading it, and so it is hard for the audience to avoid. Comedians, TV programs, etc, tell you beforehand however, a bit about their content. The '**** Mag' doesn't come with someone saying 'readers may find some of the following material offensive.' There is no disclaimer, and in the future there should be one. In short: rape is not funny. Attempted rape is not funny. Advocating rape, in any way, shape or form, is not funny. This was an awful mistake and should never be repeated.

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  • pantouffles  |  November 28 2011, 4:44PM

    The fact that "(joke!)" was written under the original post in the '**** Mag' shows that the writer knew he was on unsolid ground when they fist came up with it. How it then got past the proofing stage is just another worry, and I am glad that the Guild are now investigating it. Also, hypercritter, yes, we laugh at jokes on the television, but we choose to watch them and generally know what the comedian is on about. I'm a Frankie Boyle fan, who is hugely offensive, but his jokes are often said in a way where he doesn't wish to advocate what he's talking about. One of his jokes is "They say that Viagra takes half an hour to work. By half an hour I find the woman has usually managed to wriggle free." There isn't any advocating there. It could be interpreted in a number of ways. This booklet was almost actively encouraging students to follow through the ideas printed within it, and there wasn't room for interpretation. Yes, the argument of 'if you don't like it, don't read it' stands, but it was handed out with the intention of all those attending the SSB reading it, and so it is hard for the audience to avoid. Comedians, TV programs, etc, tell you beforehand however, a bit about their content. The '**** Mag' doesn't come with someone saying 'readers may find some of the following material offensive.' There is no disclaimer, and in the future there should be one. In short: rape is not funny. Attempted rape is not funny. Advocating rape, in any way, shape or form, is not funny. This was an awful mistake and should never be repeated.

    |   -2
  • RozieLee  |  November 28 2011, 2:39PM

    I'd highly doubt any sane person at university, especially a revered institution like Exeter, would be persuaded or encouraged to commit heinous sexual acts towards one another based on a RAG booklet... the majority of people that commit sexual assaults are sane, educated people. As for the plenty of other examples of sexual inequalities in society i couldnt think of a more serious one than rape and sexual assault... or even ripping any womans clothes off without her consent. And no one is picking on a tasteless throwaway line in a university magazine - its the reality of the offense it has caused and what this 'joke' stands for about the social acceptance of such comments that hits hard and needs combating.

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  • hypercritter  |  November 28 2011, 2:10PM

    **** joke, however, I'd wager you all or have all watched and enjoyed comedy where someone or something is being mocked or insulted. Where you considered it funny but someone else might have not. You can't have your cake and eat it, so next time you laugh at a joke or the television or make a negative remark about another person, bear in mind how you felt when you saw this article. And I'd highly doubt any sane person at university, especially a revered institution like Exeter, would be persuaded or encouraged to commit heinous sexual acts towards one another based on a RAG booklet... if you want to be upset about sexual inequality in society, there's plenty of examples out there in the mainstream media which do perpetuate poor ideas about the fairer sex. But, of course, they're popular and instituionalised. Much easier to pick on a tasteless throwaway line in a small university publication, isn't it?

  • The Normandy Arms  |  November 28 2011, 1:23PM

    ot 1 bit funny

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  • RozieLee  |  November 28 2011, 1:04PM

    I am abolutely appalled by this crass insensitive joke. Assume 1/3 of your university female population will suffer a sexual assault at some point in their lives and tell me if this comment even resembles something that is associated with funny. How this was even allowed to be printed and distributed on university property is absolutely beyond me. I think everyone needs some real hard hitting training because your equality policy cannot be being enforced. Gender based violence is not funny or amusing to anyone. I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse - i was a university student and i really feel for any student that has suffered a sexual assault. Universities should be sending out a very clear message that sexual assault and rape is not a joke - for the victims it is a life sentence. I am appalled but most of all did anyone even notice it was Domestic Violence Awareness Week last week?

  • SnowSheep91  |  November 28 2011, 9:48AM

    I'm glad to see this here, I was pleased that the SG issued an apology, but I think people need to be made more aware that this cannot happen. It's degrading and a vile way to talk about such a sensitive subject.

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