Cambridge University Graduate Blogs On Horrifying Misogyny In Catalogue Of A Barmaid

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BARMAID SEXISM
A student has recounted her experiences of sexism while working behind a bar | Alamy

A student has set up a blog to document the misogynistic and sexist behaviour she has been subjected to while working in a bar.

The Cambridge graduate, who is currently studying for a masters degree, set up Catalogue of a Barmaid in order to record "the sheer volume of bullshit that I, and others in similar jobs, have to put up with on a daily basis".

The woman, who has remained anonymous, said she used to think misogyny "couldn't possibly be as widespread and ingrained as people told me it is until I started working in a bar".

The student works in central London and proceeds to list various incidences that, as she says, are so shocking "you couldn't make [them] up".

"First, the man who thought he could stare at my chest and comment on my underwear.

"Second, the man who thought his ‘I’ve got something hard for you to work on’ innuendo to my 20-year-old friend (who is far too polite to answer back) was ‘just a bit of banter’.

"I explained this to them, and a woman in the group piped up ‘oh, it’s only a joke. Get over it.’ I replied my job is to serve drinks not to listen to innuendo and sexually inappropriate comments from customers. The group seemed to think that this was part of the job ‘because you’re a bar-maid’ and that if I didn’t like my job I should get another one.

"This particular incident really upset me because I am very unhappy in my job and part of the reason is that I am expected to laugh along with customers when they make comments that amount to wanting to have sex with me. It’s the expectation that the customer (who has all the power in this relationship) is allowed to do or say what they want because they’re parting with cash and that my sexuality and my body can be brought into the transaction."

The student says she has worked at the bar for a year and has experienced "some form of sexual harassment, misogynistic behaviour or just plain rudeness from customers on almost every shift and I’m beginning to tire of it".

She recounts one experience, when one customer disputed the drinks price, saying five pounds was too much, adding "I should be getting a shag too for that price".

After the student refused to serve the man due to their inappropriate comments, she was then called a "bitch".

"For some reason that is unfathomable to me, some men think that they can speak however they want to a woman, that sexual remarks are ‘compliments’ and that women’s bodies exist to be critiqued like a car," she continues to write. "And when you explain that this is not the case, you receive abuse and threatening remarks."

Another incident happened to one of her co-workers, who a customer told he would like to see her lipstick on his penis.

The student adds: "There is only one manager on my team who will back me up on this sort of thing, the rest tell me to ignore it and just get on with my job.

"For the company I work for, profit is more important than the safety and comfort of its employees because we are disposable."

She then recounts an experiment she tried with one "particularly rude customer", telling him she was a Cambridge graduate studying for a Masters.

"His attitude towards me changed completely because he too had gone to Cambridge. I was part of the ‘club’ and that meant that I now deserved to be treated like a human being.

"Well done Cambridge for letting that particular slime-ball in."

The blogger's accounts of misogyny are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg. Laura Bates, founder of The Everyday Sexism Project, revealed a culture of sexist behaviour at university. When she sent out a tweet for freshers' week experiences, she was told: "Contest where girls had to dance on stage. Most cheers win. Girls encouraged to take off items of clothing. No guy version."

Another student told Bates: "At our [Student Union]…girls had to suck the choc off a kit kat chunky placed between a blokes [sic] legs."

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One student union - Cardiff Women's Association - has decided to take a stand against sexism on their campus and has started a petition.

The petition is directed at Carnage, an event that takes places in university towns across the UK and is primarily aimed at students. This year, the theme, which students had to adhere to, was "pimps and hoes".

Despite pleading with Carnage to change the theme of the night, the society officers were rebutted by a strongly-worded letter which said the theme was "a fancy dress student event, nothing more".

But women's officer Sam 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'."

In January, online magazine UniLad, which is run by students, was temporarily closed down after writing an article about "surprise rape".

The piece said: "If the girl you've taken for a drink... won't 'spread for your head', think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported.

"That seems to be fairly good odds."

The writer then adds: "UniLad does not condone rape without saying 'surprise'."

The site, which is now back up and running, includes a section titled "a medley of minge".

UniLad touts itself as being voted "#1 lads magazine for students, by students".

Indicative, don't you think?