A party with a pimps and hoes dress code encouraging students to dress as prostitutes has sparked a petition to ban the "misogynistic" theme from future events held by the infamous Carnage brand.
The night out, organised by events company Varsity Leisure Group, took place in Cardiff on Sunday night, and is marketed primarily for students. The event took young people from Cardiff University, a member of the Russell Group, as well as other universities around Cardiff, on a drunken tour around the capital city, culminating in the Walkabout nightclub.
Students from the Cardiff Women's Association (CWA) society have voiced their anger at the company's decision to adopt the fancy dress theme.
Cardiff students took to the streets in knickers, stockings and corsets, despite the temperature plummeting.
Despite pleading with the business to change the theme of the night, the society officers were rebutted by a strongly-worded letter from Varsity Leisure Group's media team.
Addressed to a member of the women's association, the letter reads:
" 'Pimps and Hoes' is a common fancy dress theme across the country as can be seen from the costumes available from major fancy dress retailers. Have you contacted Amazon, or indeed any other retailer, to suggest the same, by virtue of those retailers selling the associated fancy dress attire?
Varsity Leisure Group’s aim is to give students the opportunity to have a fun night out with other students from differing ethnic and social backgrounds. Fancy dress is the central focus of all of our events and this has always been the case. The fancy dress themes for our events are chosen by the students and not by us. The selection process is conducted via social media polls in June and July of each year. This year, students across the UK (including the students in your City) have chosen “Pimps and Hoes” as the theme for the first event and “Beauty and Geek” for their second event.
A simple search of Google for similar events will return a large volume of results both for universities and night clubs, which includes a high number of “Pimps & Hoes” themed events.
We understand and respect your personal views on this matter, and apologise for any offence caused to you personally. This is a fancy dress student event, nothing more.
We would like to point out that attendance, of course, is entirely voluntary.
Should you wish to take your concerns to the national press, that is a matter for you. We have no desire to work with Cardiff University Student Union, either now or in the future."
One society member, Megan David, said she was "disgusted" by the response.
"I'm very pleased they don't want to work with us as it would horrify me to have such a thing here," she said, while Alice Pember added: "This email makes me so angry."
Women's officer Sam Hickman has now set up a petition directed at Carnage, asking them to "never use such a sexist misogynistic theme as pimps and hoes again".
One student, although in the minority, voiced concern about the fancy dress a few hours before the event was due to start, tweeting:
But many other messages on Twitter showed the darker side of the Carnage event:
While others appeared to embrace the theme with open arms, tweeting pictures of their t-shirts, which read "virgin slayer" and "mouth slut".
Hickman argues the event has a major influence on student life and the theme encourages misogynistic and patriarchal ideals.
"It encourages [ideas] that men are superior, women can be bought and sold as sex objects, and that if a women dresses provocatively she 'gets what she deserves'."
The petition, which already has 75 supporters, echoes a similar pledge in Huddersfield, which asks clubs and bars in the city to avoid pimps and hoes theme nights.
Bethan Oakley, who started the petition, said: "Themes which glamourise or make light of the abusive and oppressive practises of prostitution only serve to desensitise us to such issues and the lives of the people involved."
Carnage UK is a well-known event which takes place at universities across the UK.
In 2010, one student was captured on camera urinating on a cenotaph in Southampton, while another was pictured being escorted away by police.
It has often received criticism over the state many students find themselves in, due to the copious amounts of alcohol they consume, and was dubbed "student suicide" by one newspaper.
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