In only three months, St. Andrews Survivors has achieved something incredible. The Instagram account has given a voice to numerous survivors of sexual assault, allowing them to tell their stories and contribute to a nation-wide conversation about campus rape culture. On Monday, the St. Andrews Saint student newspaper joined the conversation. Unfortunately, it completely missed the mark. According to The Times, an article in the new Freshers’ Magazine seemed to argue that “locker room banter” was harmless. The author allegedly wrote “this is a disservice to those men who enjoy innocent bonding of a more masculine, testosterone-y kind.” Yes, you read that right.
At best, the piece is a poor attempt at humour. At worst, it completely undermines St. Andrews Survivors’ efforts at tackling the university’s lad culture. Following The Times’ article on Wednesday, the paper has now published an apologetic rewritten piece. It states it now welcomes pieces addressing “locker room culture.” But wouldn’t it have been better to replace the original article with something along those lines, rather than allowing the author to continue to defend his outdated and misogynistic views? It feels like a missed opportunity.
In fact, the article ironically highlights the importance of St. Andrews Survivors. At the time of writing this piece, the account has published over 100 student stories, ranging from unwanted groping to rape. As we have seen from recent reports of “lad culture” at other universities, these issues are not unique to St. Andrews. In fact, they take place in every university around the country. They happen in plain sight. The more we dismiss sexual assault as ‘just banter,’ the more that articles such as this one trivialise it, the harder it becomes for survivors to seek support.
So, don’t bother reading the Saint article. Follow St. Andrews Survivors instead, to see what the consequences of “locker room banter” really are.
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