Students at Warwick University have launched a petition against the recent refurbishment of Moo Bar, Leamington Spa. The campaign, headed by Warwick’s Anti-Sexism Society (WASS), objects to the use of ‘sexist, racist and violent imagery’ in a severely misguided attempt by the bar’s management to be provocative. The wallpaper in question depicts slavery, violence, prostitution and schoolgirls, with text such as Black runaway slave girl aged 18yrs seeks Plantation Master and Busty Indian Schoolgirl.
‘But it’s just wallpaper!‘, I hear you cry, ‘if you object to it so much, just don’t go to the bar. Jeeeeeeeeez‘.
Well, not so much.
Sexual assault is incredibly prevalent, not least amongst university students, Moo Bar’s core demographic. In fact, it is thought that 1 in 7 female students will experience some degree of sexual assault during their time at university. Not particularly something to be made light of, no matter how ironic and edgy you think you’re being. Imagery that normalises the subjugation of women such as this wallpaper perpetuates sexist institutions, cultures and societal behaviours. In other words, even if you choose not to go to this particular bar, you can still be affected by the message it projects.
The petition has already made enormous traction, along with the following letter from members of WASS;
To the Manager
“We are writing with regards to the recent refurbishment of Moo. As past patrons of Moo many of us have been shocked by the images covering the walls in the area of the bar and as a result will no longer be your customers. We are sure that you are aware that the wallpaper depicts images of women alongside text that are suggestive of adverts for prostitution.
“The text alongside the images in some cases sexualises school age girls while others sexualises slavery, which I am sure you can agree is incredibly offensive to your black customers. While we appreciate that Moo is a private commercial space we would like to draw your attention to the way in which the wallpaper might be experienced as sexist and racist by your customers.
“Of course it is your right to decorate your bar in whatever way you see fit, however we believe that images such as these contribute to the sexual objectification of women in general and girls and black women in particular. There is some evidence to suggest that where women are sexually objectified this leads to an increase fear of unwanted sexual attention, harassment and violence. We are sure you would not want your female customers to feel so uncomfortable in your bar.
“Having spoken to a number of students, SU societies and sabbatical officers, and Leamington residents it has become clear to us that we are not alone in finding the wallpaper offensive and we are working hard to raise awareness on campus about the intensely unpleasant and problematic nature of your refurbishment.
“We invite you to come and discuss your decoration choices with us at a mutually convenient time.
“Warwick Anti-Sexism Society.”
Multiple attempts have been made by society members, students and media groups to contact the management, which have so far been fruitless despite the fact that every time the petition is signed, a copy of the message and the signature lands in their email inbox.
However, there is only so long they can ignore the increasing barrage of voices opposed to this gross show of racism and misogyny – please sign the petition and help spread the word that it is not acceptable to trivialise these issues.