News Writer Daisy Roberts reports on a survey that says 26% of male students think that their University does ‘too much’ to tackle misogyny
According to a new Savanta survey of 1,600 university students aged 18-25, 26% of male students think their university does ‘too much’ to tackle misogyny. The survey, commissioned by Sophia Smith Galer, journalist and author of ‘Losing It’, revealed shocking figures which, according to Smith Galer, comes down to a lack of sex education for adolescents from primary school up to university.
Named by Smith Galer as a ‘lost generation’, university students are showing the effects of a failed sex education system. 52% of current university students claim they had no regular conversations with their parents about sex growing up. It is no wonder then that without a successful sex education system to rely upon either, university students are severely lacking in education and healthy sexual experiences.
This failure is evident in the 45% of university-aged men and 31% of university-aged women who felt confident labelling the ‘nubis’ on a diagram of the female reproductive system, a statistic that is shocking given the fact that the ‘nubis’ does not exist.
Universities are also failing to give their students the education they need. One effect of this can be seen in the lack of support services made known to university students. Despite being more likely to fall victim to sexual harassment, it was revealed that only 52% of female students versus 70% of male students knew how to report it.
Sarah Champion, a British Labour MP who had a big influence in the introduction of mandatory sex education in 2017, weighed in on these findings. Champion said how the figures ‘paint a clear picture of the shocking gaps in children and young people’s knowledge about sex, relationships and their own bodies’. Champion said how the fundamentals of sex education should be taught ‘long before’ students reach university, and that this failure is actually putting students ‘at risk’.
This ‘risk’ is certainly evident in some of the experiences reported by Smith Galer. Around 40% of students reported feeling pressured into their first experience of penetrative sex, and 34% of female students believed that their sexual partner did not fully understand what ‘consent’ meant. These two statistics alone show the danger that some students are in as a consequence of a lack of sex education.
To investigate further, Redbrick spoke to Emmanuelle Cuccolo, a teacher of 15 years and a second year student studying for a Masters in Research in Sexuality and Gender Studies.
According to Cuccolo, sex education which, ‘teaches you how to be human’, is not being properly addressed by the University of Birmingham.
When asked by Redbrick whether she thought UoB does enough to tackle misogyny, Cuccolo’s instant response was a definitive ‘no’. Cuccolo elaborated saying, ‘They [UoB] don’t take any opportunity to actively engage students in a conversation’.
This, in Cuccolo’s opinion, included the University’s ‘on paper’ attempts to reach out to students with their ‘Not On’ campaign, a campaign launched in 2015 to raise awareness about sexual harassment.
‘Misogyny comes out of ignorance’, said Cuccolo, something which can only be improved by healthy conversations that UoB is not actively trying to have.
Cuccolo also brought attention to the disparity between international and home students. Having run 2-hour consent workshops out of her own initiative in the Spring and Autumn of the last academic year, Cuccolo saw this division first-hand. She said how she noticed that the majority of students attending the workshops were international students who claimed they had ‘never received any sex education in their life’.
Cuccolo said how international students at university, as well as groups like the LGBTQ+ community, are all being left out of the limited sex education available to students.
Cuccolo’s perspective along with Smith Galer’s findings are clear indications that the education system, and certainly the University of Birmingham, is failing to provide people with the knowledge and safe space to begin these necessary conversations.
Redbrick have reached out to the University of Birmingham for comment, however, they have not responded.
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