There was student elections over the past month, in case you didn’t notice. I wanted to reflect on the experiences of women in the election and propose some things for all of us to consider moving forward.
What I think is an undeniable testament to the progressive nature of Sydney University political and feminist scenes, is the fact that the three candidates for SRC President this year, all identified as women.
We also have a decent majority (19/33) of councillors who identify as women. Which is an excellent improvement on immediate years prior.
These are excellent achievements that we should all be proud of.
Unfortunately, there are some things those of us who adorned colourful t-shirts should be unbelievably ashamed of.
Foremost, for women to be properly represented in the student movement, they must be brought to the table for the machinations. It is imperative that women know how to run campaigns so that we deliver holistic equality of participation and therefore an inclusive, vibrant student movement.
What I think is most immediately pressing for serious consideration, however is the way we treat women-identifying candidates. I know women, especially those who put themselves forward as candidates for President and editors of Honi Soit, who were particularly affected by the levels of vitriol and misogyny levelled at them. Brief examples of this include being followed by men twice their size as a form of intimidation, Being rammed and pushed by men as they moved towards voting booths, rumours about their families, sexualities and sexual activities and vicious critiques of their appearances.
This is not okay. When we look at shitty statistics about women’s disengagement from politics, we need not look further than this for explanation.
I know this issue is nuanced, and my recount is many kinds of problematic, but the short space is limiting, which is why I will be taking submissions on personal experiences and recommendations for next year and compiling a report for next years Women’s Officers and Returning Officer. Please, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org all submissions will be anonymous.