The campaign against Tequila UK is misguided and futile. Stopping the spread of rape culture will not come from closing either the club or the weekly event it holds but from sensible engagement with the men who hold these views. I accept that the club should not have promoted these views and the video editor should certainly be fired but the video is a secondary issue compared to the views of the individuals captured in it. So far there has been no thorough analysis of their views. For all the headlines we have learned nothing of substance.
If the campaign is successful and Tequila does close, nothing constructive will have been achieved. The club will have paid the ultimate price for publishing one video, for which it swiftly apologised. Yes, the video was horribly inappropriate, but this is a disproportionate response. Those who attended the club will simply shift to another night and take their views with them. Hiding these views from the public eye does absolutely nothing to further the cause of campaigners.
If you want to shift attitudes and help ensure the safety of women then you have to include men in the debate, and try to understand where these views come from. Feminist campaigners have been highly effective over the last few decades, gradually improving services for women whilst men have been ignored. Despite accounting for 40 per cent of domestic abuse and stalking there are just 33 dedicated refuge bed spaces for men in the UK. There are over 4,000 for women. Men are also the victims of roughly 12 per cent of rapes, with roughly 9,000 officially recorded per year between 2009/10 and 2011/12 (the figure is 69,000 for women). Men are twice as likely to keep their abuse a secret and therefore suffer for longer in silence. While women are clearly at higher risk of sexual and domestic abuse, awareness of violence against men is tragically low. This leads to an unnecessary imbalance in campaigning and perhaps contributes to a dangerous counter-culture among young men.
Campaigners should seek out individuals who give voice to rape culture and discuss them openly. Trying to close down a club, no matter how outrageous and misguided their video, will not stop or even hinder rape culture. The response has to be more mature and inclusive, it has to condemn those in the video above the video editor and should precipitate a wider discussion about why rape culture exists. Culture and individual actions are changed through reason and debate, not through placard waving and the shouting of 100 protesters at those who will most likely forget the protest in their alcoholic stupor anyway. If men were sufficiently informed about and included in the campaign against sexual violence then the demand for Tequila’s brand of booze fuelled sleaze would dry up and videos like this wouldn’t get made.
Photo: Leo Garbutt