Comment | Rape Is No Joke

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and the flogging of tat though salacious adverts. As my generation are primary targets for sexualised marketing, we are no strangers to sexual images. However, there comes a point when using sexuality and promiscuity as a means of advertising oversteps the already strained boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Tequila, a popular Leeds student night at Mezz, has done just this. Their recent promotional video, shot at their Freshers’ night ‘Violation’, created a tidal wave of social media outrage, leading to the video being removed the same evening as its release. In true Tequila fashion, the video lived up to what every Leeds student has come to expect from the classy night, and more: slow motion images of girls eating each other’s faces, whipping down their tops for body shots, and dancing in cages: all while being drenched in tequila. I’m sure that the artistic shots of tequila being dribbled out of excessively drunk girls’ mouths onto bouncing double Ds gave the director pride in his honed skills as a filmmaker.

As the name ‘Violation’ suggests, the video took a more sinister tone than the usual American Apparel style sexual images we are sadly accustomed to. In the first 30 seconds, the host asked drunken male clubbers “Who are you going to violate tonight?”, with the most poignant response ending in “she’s going to get raped.” Another male interviewee answered with explicit detail how hard he intended to ‘fist’ a girl, before telling the camera that he was a Leeds University student, as well as what course he does, entirely unashamed. These revelations were rewarded with more camera time, like barking seals being thrown fish, As you would expect from this disturbing depiction of clubbing, women were portrayed as idiotic and submissive. The host, who appeared to pick girls almost too drunk to support themselves, goaded one girl into confessing her desire for anal sex, before asking what it would take to get her into bed. Another was mocked due to her inability to comprehend the sadistic question and how she was going to avoid “being violated”.

Tequila’s campaign preys on the lad culture brewing in Leeds that students are exposed to daily. Only two nights prior to watching the video, my female flatmate and I were confronted while walking home from a party. Three boys, I refuse to call them men, decided to shout sexual remarks at us. When one slapped us both on the bum he appeared shocked at the torrent of abuse he received: stunned that we weren’t prepared to bend over in response to his obvious charisma. Although the boys didn’t touch us again, we received further remarks along the lines of “I like them violent…” for the remaining five minutes of our journey. Pretty shaken and angry, my flatmate tweeted the Everyday Sexism Project to dispel some frustration. What else could we do?

This is the behaviour Tequila is encouraging: ‘players’ forcing themselves on submissive girls (all the better if they’re too drunk to protest right?). Although women are obviously victims, it is easy to overlook the pressure put upon men to conform to this mentality. It must be tiring living under the stress to be a ‘big man’. The final minute of Tequila’s video included the host calling what unfortunately would be called a ‘nerdy’ looking male a virgin as a means of humiliation. A mature and hilarious way of eliminating anyone who is not prepared to ‘violate’ a woman – I mean, rape is cool right? It is easy for brands to mould a mentality that people will follow in order to feel accepted, segregating those who won’t conform with the excuse that it’s just a bit of fun.

What scares me is that the people in the video are allegedly well educated, mature and look like your average students. As educated young adults, surely we should have the capacity to rise above this sleazy form of entrapment? How is it that supposedly smart and socially aware people are not ashamed of publicising their desire to “rape” or “dry fist” drunk Freshers? What saddens me most is that come Thursday, hundreds of students will flock again to Mezz’s doors, completely indifferent to the messages in the video, and come next year, there will be yet another “F**k a Fresher” night. The students of Leeds need to hold themselves accountable for the longstanding lad culture mentality, and actively resist entertaining this grotesque form of injustice.

Sammy Gooch

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