Thursday, 17 September 2009

NUS Opposed to Sexist Freshers' Week Promotions

The NUS National Women's Officer has launched campaign to oppose sexist marketing by a marketing company on University campuses. The company in question is involved in the promotion of the Miss University GB Competition and plan to distribute free copies of FHM at Freshers' Fairs. This competition and the magazine promote misogynistic views of women and promote the objectification of women and help propagate the deeply offensive idea that a woman's worth is contained entirely in her appearance.

Promotions such as these at Freshers' Fairs presents a lack of inclusivity that could well be alienating to young women who should be made to feel welcome as valuable members of the University. Furthermore it privileges heterosexual males and implies by the lack of inclusivity in the promotions that this group is the only one worthy of the marketeers efforts. This is clearly unacceptable.

From the NUS website:

The NUS Women’s Campaign is making a stand against two recent BAM promotions. BAM are a student’s unions marketing company who offer various promotions, advertising and events sponsorship. It has come to our attention that they supported and facilitated the promotion of the Miss University GB Competition and plan to distribute free copies of FHM at Freshers' Fairs and you can help take action.

In a society where 92% of women under the age of 22 have said that they “hate their bodies,” promoting competitions that openly objectify women and the distribution of a magazine based on the same principles is unacceptable. These sorts of competitions and media will only continue to fuel negative, unrealistic and damaging ideals of what women should look like. And, whilst pointing out the obvious, these two promotions are not accessible to all or in any way inclusive.

Olivia Bailey, the NUS National Women’s Officer, has taken action against these promotions and has sent an open letter to BAM, outlining the Women’s Campaign’s concerns about these promotions. In her letter to BAM, Olivia stated that “It is of course vital that we respect the rights of all students to engage in whatever activities they choose to, and as such we never extend our criticism to the women who choose to enter beauty pageants. Our criticism lands squarely on the shoulders of the corporations who make money out of the exploitation of women students.”

The NUS campaign provided a model letter which can be emailed to BAM ( to register a complaint:

Model letter to BAM – feel free to adapt to include your own views

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to express my concern about two of your recent activities. First, I understand that you have written to all students’ unions on your books suggesting they advertise Miss University GB at their institution. Second, I understand that you have facilitated the free distribution of FHM magazine at the fresher’s fairs of the unions you are contracted to work for.

I believe that Beauty Pageants like Miss University GB, and ‘lads’ mags like FHM, send the dangerous message that it is OK to value women purely on a narrow conception of beauty that bears little relation to the majority of women.

I believe that my institution should be free of the sexism and objectification that women face every day in wider society. I am disappointed that you did not more seriously consider the equal opportunities implications of the products that you have chosen to advertise.

I ask that you retract both promotions, and apologise for the negative impact that your action has had on campuses across the country.

Yours Sincerely,


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