Oxford University, that so, so old bastion of upper-class English traditions, of port and fine wines, of the moneyed establishment, has long been a fertile habitat for public-schoolboy clubs and drinking fraternities, insouciance, high jinx and bad-lad behaviour. And everyday sexism which often turns vile and nasty. Cheerful chappies in the city of dreaming spires, some of whom will go on to be world leaders, still think it’s OK to shout obscenities when females are in the vicinity or to act up like apes on heat, to spike the drinks of young women, or to touch them up and worse.
Last November, St Hugh’s, which was founded in 1886 as a women’s college, banned the Black Cygnets, a club that invited chosen lovely, young, female undergraduates to dress up as foxes to be chased and hunted by males as they went to various drinking holes. The Bullingdon boys keep out women altogether, so that they can get properly drunk and merry. Now help is at hand for these saddos who are so out of place in the modern world. They can go to workshops and learn to be nice to women, to respect them, to talk instead of leering and jeering; in short, to grow up. So far, about 200 have been through the be-good sessions.
It is a nice idea, but cupfuls of gentle coaxing may change little. Misogyny is in the cultural water of the place. The only way to get the message across is to expel any men who behave inappropriately, even in their spare time. But the spires will crumble and meadows turn to lakes before Oxford is ready to take that step.Reuse content