My name is Camilla Turner, I graduated from Oxford University in June 2012. While I was in my final year, some friends and I set up a facebook group called ”Misogyny Overheard at Oxford Uni”, as a forum for students who have overheard, witnessed or experienced sexism directed at women. The initiative was led by Bethan McKernan.
We felt that there was a certain stigma attached to speaking out against sexism and misogyny among students, for fear of being seen to ’overreact’ or not be able to take a ’joke’. We wanted to create a space where student didn’t have to brush it off or pretend it doesn’t matter: somewhere to report it, share it, and have a supportive community to engage with.
The ’lad culture’ which this group was set up to combat, we felt, is not always ’just banter’. If it demeans and demoralises women, it is not ’just a joke.’ We felt that standing up to it now matters, because, due to many other factors than just merit, many Oxford students will take their attitudes toward women with them in to parliament, banks, law firms and on the pages of national newspapers in 20 years’ time if we don’t challenge them now.
Following the success and popularity of our group, other universities started facebook groups e.g. ”Misogyny Overheard at Durham” and ”Misogyny Overheard at Kent Uni”. Around the same time, The Everyday Sexism Project was started by Laura Bates, a project with a similar mission, only on a national scale.