Sign starts debate

A slogan put up in front of a University Ave. house reflects rape culture on campus, activist says

A photo taken of the sign has garnered over 1,400 likes and 50 comments on the Facebook group "Overheard at Queen's."
A photo taken of the sign has garnered over 1,400 likes and 50 comments on the Facebook group "Overheard at Queen's."

A sign displayed in the Student Ghetto on Sept. 1, move-in day, has ignited criticism for its allegedly misogynistic and sexist undertones.

The sign, posted in front of 272 University Ave., read “Dads: winter isn’t the only thing coming”. It was directed at the fathers of first-year students who were moving in to Queen’s residences that day.

A picture of the sign was posted on the Facebook group “Overheard at Queen’s” on Sept. 1, and has since garnered over 1,400 “likes” and over 50 comments.

Katie Hickey, ConEd ’15, said she took issue with the slogan, arguing its insinuations of rape could have had a severe negative impact on first-years.

“Imagine what it would be like as a frosh to see that … you don’t know anybody, you’re going in,” she said. “I think it would have been really scary, and they may have felt really isolated and targeted by the whole Queen’s population, especially when you see the comments supporting it.”

The sign has also come under fire by Toronto-based activist Jeff Perera, who referred to the sign as an example of a “shameful tradition” of promoting rape culture at Queen’s.

Perera, community engagement manager for the social justice organization White Ribbon campaign, condemned the sign in a blog post entitled “Consent: The conversation that we STILL need to urgently have,” published on Sept 5.

He likened the sign to the Saint Mary’s University Frosh Week chants, which came under fire last week for their explicit references to rape.

“The subtext [of the sign] is ‘dads, you used to own these young women’s bodies, now we own them and we will use them when, and how, we choose to use them,’” Perera said.

He added the sign proved similar to slogans put up by students in the past, some of which contained phrases such as “no means yes,” and “no means harder.”

On Oct. 13, 1989, the Journal reported that students created the signs in protest against the “No Means No,” campaign, which promoted consensual sex.

“When you start from jokes like the ones that were put up on the banners, that’s a culture that eventually leads to a space that thinks that joking about rape is funny,” he said.

Duncan Tooley, who is pictured sitting on a couch in front of the sign and lives at 272 University Ave., said the sign never intended to cause offence, adding that the slogan references the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones.

“The purpose of the sign really was that we thought it was funny … we thought we’d get some good reactions to it,” Tooley, ArtSci ’16, said, adding one of his friends had constructed the sign.

“To the people who were offended, I want to give them my deepest and sincere apology,” he said. “It’s a bad representation of who I am as a person and … the people I live with.”

Tooley’s other four housemates declined to comment.

“It was not my intention at all to promote [non-consensual] sex. That’s horrible,” Tooley said.

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