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Warwick student backlash against 'sexist, racist and violent' bar decor


A Warwick bar decorated with “sexist, racist and violent wallpaper” has inspired a petition which garnered over 2,400 signatures in three days, organised by the University of Warwick Anti-Sexism Society. WASS is concerned that the images and text used to decorate the bar may “sexualise school girls, slavery and violence”.

The popular Moo Bar in Leamington Spa was refurbished last January, and a portion of its new wallpaper is decorated with fake adverts for prostitutes. Some of the messages inscribed on the wallpaper include ‘Busty Indian schoolgirl’, ‘slave girl needs strict master’ and ‘Black runaway slave girl aged 18 yrs seeks plantation master’.

This incident has been one of many controversies surrounding the group of Leamington student bars and nightclubs owned by designer and local magnate Steve Smith. The style of Smith’s designs has been self-described as ‘shock and awe’, with his previous creations being similarly divisive, such as the nightclub Smack (previously known as Sugar and renamed by Smith so to ‘wind up the local media’) , which won a Restaurant and Bar Design Award.

Supporters of the petition have branded the decor choice ‘ Moo-sogyny’, with many boycotting the bar until the wallpaper is taken down. Sophie Rees, president of WASS and the petition organiser, argues that the underlying misogyny of the choice of wallpaper cannot be justified on aesthetic grounds. She said: “I think there's a line between freedom of speech and art, and presenting prostitution as entertainment does not, in my opinion, register as art.”

Rees went on to explain the importance of protesting cases like this: “I think it's important to fight the sexual objectification of women, especially when it is so blatant and hideous as in this instance. I think it's important for people - including students - to engage critically with their environment and to feel able to stand up and say this is just too far.”

Moo Bar's owners could not be reached for comment.

The petition can be signed online here.