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Dear Spotted: Loughborough Library

As Spotted comes under fire from the university and union again, Loughborough Students' Union Women's Officer Rachel Dykins writes an open letter to the page.

January 26, 2014 · Rachel Dykins

Dear ‘Spotted: Loughborough Library’,

Firstly,  I’d like to point out that a couple of weeks ago when you reappeared on my screen during exam time as you inevitably always do, I was pleased. Brilliant, I thought. Yet another way to shamelessly procrastinate and enjoy a window into the bizarre world that is a student library where we have nothing better to do than pass a degree.

Then, things started to change.  I started to wonder why you were posting some of the things that were being sent in. I didn’t understand why you weren’t screening things which to me didn’t seem funny at all… but it’s ok, don’t worry. I understand now.

I can see that you are heroically providing a useful place for us students to be able to discuss the important things online, in a “freedom of speech” style public forum (as I think you described it) without censorship.

First of all I would like to thank you for this.

Thank you so much for creating an online forum currently reaching 8,000 people that is publicly linked to the University I go to and the Library I attend every day as I try to make my way through my education.

Thank you for making me feel nervous every time I visit the Page. Nervous that me or someone I know may have been singled out under the guise of a witty joke that is actually alerting me to the fact that the guy next to me has a boner watching me work, or letting me know that the way my friend is “fiddling with her iPad” is making her male neighbour think that she wants him to “fiddle with her”.

Thank you for making me annoyed on behalf of the girl studying on Level 3 who someone has pointed out is wearing gym lycra shorts and a tight top, considering your page encourages guys to “go find her”.

Thank you for making me feel increasingly uneasy when I read hilarious post after post addressed to the female Physics student whose “Uranus” is threatened to be destroyed; to the “hot Black girl” told to “Come and de-stress daddy”; to the girl eating lunch told to “use her munching skills” on a male student in the silent area; to the female Asian student who is told an anonymous guy in the library wants to “touch her in ways her father wouldn’t approve of”, to the girl alerted to the fact that she is now alone with someone in the library who wants her.

Thank you for making me feel sad for the girl who the page has pointed out is crying due to a breakup with her boyfriend, who has then been summoned via the page to go and “entertain” some boys who want her to go home with them “because he’s probably cheated on you”.

Thank you for making me feel incredibly anxious for a good half an hour after reading a post instructing someone to tell his girlfriend that he spent his money on “porn and a bag for her fucking head”, knowing that I needed to get over my nerves and build up the confidence to write on the post, despite feeling awkward and being scared about the response I would receive if I decided to.

Thank you for making me feel momentarily threatened; when your forum meant that my comment calling for tighter screening was greeted with several anonymous (of course) comments telling me I was a “dick-hating feminist” and to place a bag on my own head as he was “going in dry”.

Thank you for providing me with the stress of the next half an hour I watched these comments you did not delete accumulate likes from other students.

Thank you for making me feel frustrated, that for every person I’ve seen publicly summon the courage to challenge the anonymous creepy, violent or harassing comments to female students provided by your forum, there is someone ready to quickly shut them down with a hilarious and easy put down which subsequently accumulates 20 reinforcing ‘likes’ within seconds and continuing silent (or verbal) consent from yourself.

Thank you for making me feel embarrassed when friends and siblings at other universities around the country look at the Loughborough Spotted page and let me know how “backwards” my university is and how much less would be tolerated or encouraged at their own universities.

Thank you for making me feel lonely for a moment.

Thank you for letting me know that it is probably me that needs a better sense of humour or needs to accept freedom of speech because, if “if I can take a dick; I can take a joke”.

And finally, thank you for letting me know in a personal message on Facebook -  “By getting rid of (the misogynistic comment) and not dealing with the issue publicly then you are complying. If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.”

Thank you admin of Loughborough Library Spotted page. I understand now. I am the problem.

Rachel Dykins

Rachel Dykins

Rachel is Loughborough Students' Union Women's Officer.
Rachel Dykins

Latest posts by Rachel Dykins (see all)

Posted by on January 26, 2014. Filed under Comment,Featured.
  • Bollos

    Ur welcome

  • Anonymous

    You deserve an award for this. I agree with every sarcastic barb and would love to add even more if I could write as well as you. *applauds* (also thank you Spotted: Loughborough for making me feel that I can’t post my name on these comments for fear of the backlash that you described)

  • Minash

    Well- written, absolutely agree with everything you’ve said!

  • Jennifer

    Thank you and well done; both a million times over.

  • sayNoToBacklash

    THANKYOU RACHEL ! YOU ARE AMAZING. simply brilliant.

  • Anonymous

    Well said Rachel. As a male at this university I too felt ashamed that this page existed. Fine – of course freedom of speech exists and I’m glad it does. But for these comments to be placed on a forum explicitly attached to the university library is not on. If these comments were elsewhere I would accept it as part of life. But when students fear studying at the library because of this then something has to change – the library should be accessible to all. The university still have a lot of work to do but following their press release I feel this work may have begun.

  • Penny

    No doubt Rachel will get trolled and abused for this but very well said. I’d hoped these pages would have died a death by now too. It all seems so last year, but I guess each new year of freshers will inevitably think they’re the first to be so ‘hilarious’ and keep the threatening, homophobic, sexist, and racist comments being posted in the name of ‘bant’……..

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for speaking out about this.

  • Anon

    why not just not read the page?

    • Callum Burke

      Because the page represents the students whether you read it or not and people need to speak up against this minority that hide under anonyminity to abuse others.

  • Sarah Catherine Lewis

    Complete support for you Rachel. This is completely unacceptable and needs to be addressed by the university.
    Women at Loughborough deserve better than this misogyny and racism.

  • John Smith

    I am neither female or do I associate myself as being feminist but I totally agree with every you mentioned. Thank you for the courage of speaking against the page.

  • Anonymous

    thank you for this! glad I’m not alone.

  • Guest

    Excellent post, illustrating exactly why this sort of behaviour is so obnoxious. I wrote to the University management about the spotted page as a former student, and the father of a current female Student. However, I was horrified by what I

  • James

    I agree with everything that has been said here and also believe that many of the comments are totally unacceptable. However, I am not surprised that Loughborough’s lad culture formed and has since been allowed to ferment when the university has a 2:1 guy to girl ratio. I am not excusing the behaviour – but it is hardly surprising given the situation. I think that frustration and anger, caused by the lack of females, is breeding an atmosphere of contempt for women.

  • IBH Ardipithecus

    Excellent post, and perfect explanation why this sort of behaviour is so obnoxious. I contacted University management about this, and was happy from the response that they were taking appropriate measures. It also seems (From looking more recently) that they have mostly had the desired effect.

    And for those who would claim freedom of speech – your right to speak freely ends when it contravenes anothers right to be free of harassment, free of abuse, free of stalking and free of fear.

    • Ali C.

      This behavior is not simply obnoxious – it’s violent and threatening to women.

  • Chris Akabusi

    Some people need a real good shagging. Let your hair down Love, you’ll see the world in a much better light. May I relate back to this comment made on January 21st “To the Danny Care Lookalike on Level 1: I’d like to feel your beard on the inside of my thighs. From the tall blonde”. Double standards? Yes, No? I Don’t see any man writing an article claiming to feel embarrassed to enter The Pilkington due to the imense fear and scrutiny they may come under from the prying eyes of the judging “Mean Girl’s” esque women. I am using a Fake identity for fear of the backlash that may come about from proposing an argument to your point of view. The Page is made to create light humor for those bored in the Pilkington it should not be viewed to be anymore than this. Those that do will obviously feel socially awkward. If you don’t like the page don’t Like it on Facebook? Lighten up

    • Zoe

      If you are going to attempt to argue a point it is best not to have your opening line as ”Some people need a real good shagging”, especially when the article you are commenting on/arguing against is discussing misogyny, you are just proving Rachel’s point even more.

      Also, Rachel had the option of going anonymous but she chose to have it published under her name, proving how brave she is when she knew she would have be criticized and receive such comments. She should be applauded, even if you do not agree with what she is saying for having the courage to publish an article which had the potential to receive a lot of backlash.

      • Guest

        So essentially, ‘yeeeeah, you’re right Chris but I have no counter argument to yours, so… Isn’t she brave?! To imply otherwise makes you a misogynist!’

        Today’s double standards everyone, agree or you’re evil, and get a sense of humour is not a valid argument regarding a joke page, not taking itself seriously…

        • Zoe

          I didn’t bother countering the argument because his opening line of “Some people need a real good shagging” undermined his whole point.

          In regards to his point about the male post, yes that is valid. However, have you ever considered the fact a male would not be threatened in the same way as a female because (generally) a male does not face the threat of unwanted sexual advances from a person who could overpower him like a woman does. That’s why an anonymous stranger informing a woman he wants to “destroy her anus” can be seen as threatening, because it is from a someone who probably has the physical power to do that.

          In regards to the page being a joke, yes some of the content on there is harmless and amusing. But don’t you think it is odd that people found the exec video more embarrassing for our uni than spotted? Some of the posts on that page are not doing our university any favours.

  • Daniel McHugh

    Rachel,

    First off; I absolutely agree with every statement on this. However, the delivery left me pulling my hair out!

    Starting almost every paragraph with “thank you” and not actually having a coherent argument smacks distinctly of having a very personal rant, which frankly undermines the real argument here and leaves it open to ridicule on ‘Spotted’ itself. Please use a little more caution when approaching this valid issue to avoid tarring it and preventing a worthwhile debate.

    Thanks.

    • Pun intended

      Totally agree Daniel. I also don’t understand why she abused the Eldridge Cleaver quote at the end there. The point of which was to encourage addressing issues publicly rather than quietly consenting. Ironically she has actively become part of the solution following that conversation with spotted. Perhaps a more positive conclusion on this note rather than butchering Cleaver to encourage sympathy would have been more effective.

  • April

    Thank you for speaking up against this. I do feel more nervous when going into the library, which is not helpful when already stressing about exams/coursework. I know it’s not only women that fell intimated by the page too.

  • Jen

    I’m really impressed that you’ve spoken out about something I was too afraid of doing myself, basically for fear of getting creepy/threatening/intimidating replies, probably to do with what’s going to be done with me without my consent.

    It’s so upsetting as a young woman to know that men my own age, born in the same decade, show absolutely no shame in saying such horrific, harassing things to strangers based on their gender and (minor) potential of having sex with them. I’m fed up of being accused by generally white middle-class boys of having no sense of humour, when we’re being profusely discriminated against. I’m sorry, but you really wouldn’t know what it feels like. If you’ve ever been discriminated against, you’d know it’s no laughing matter, especially when it’s a total stranger.

    This behaviour is so incredibly backward, was born out of a different age and is completely unacceptable in this one. Particularly worrying is that it is being shared and encouraged among a group of supposedly intelligent, forward -thinking students. Thinking about the fact that lots of these young men are probably going to have powerful, successful jobs in a few years makes me sick. Grow out of it before it’s too late and you can do even more real damage.

    It’s offensive, whether you like it or not. End it!

  • Zara

    I agree with most of what was said, although i can also see some of the comments as a joke. Just would like to mention that every time someone has a go at spotted pages it seems to be aimed at the posts based on women, guys are getting the piss taken out of them and society is saying that they’re just supposed to take it. Singling someone out is bullying I get that, but why aim this at just women? The page should just be a laugh, pointing out things that we all do, not just one person that makes them feel awful.

    • Anon.

      I’ll agree with that. There is an awful lot of comments relating to normal male behavior being “pathetic.” That’d be a tough break for anyone suffering from feeling of being self-conscious.

  • Betty

    Well said Rachel.

  • Christopher Beard

    I completely agree that the way some people speak about others in this group is occasionally terrible, especially since they are hiding behind the wall of anonymity, however the page in the same way as quite of lot of stand-ups state is “just a joke”. The best kind of censorship is your own, if you feel you may be offended, don’t watch the comedian or don’t go on the page. With regards to the personal attacks on you, that is seriously wrong and them people should be dealt with.

  • Charlotte

    Rachel, thank you for articulating what many girls AND guys at Loughborough are thinking but are too scared to say. Simply “not looking at it” is not the answer. Would you say “cover your ears” to a person receiving racial taunts? No! Neither is it the answer in this case!!!!

  • Lloyd

    Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit

    • Lisa Dover

      And wit is the highest form of intelligence

      • Ba

        Calling the author unintelligent?

        • Lisa Dover

          No, the exact opposite!

  • Anonymous

    She has exercised he freedom of speech, shame it will fall on deaf ears. However this should bring to light the fact that most of this will be forgotten within a few days nearly due to the fact the life goes on, why dwell on events that are as mundain as a Facebook post? I for one exercise my right to ignore such petty actions

  • Anon

    Page should be deleted or be monitored by uni

  • Anon

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9004843/Ricky-Gervais-You-cant-worry-about-offending-people.html

    Personally I do not find the statuses that are posted that funny. They are unoriginal and immature. Yet, you do not have to scroll through the page and find the statuses that offend you, you do not have to visit the page, in fact you can block the page. By visiting the site and writing articles about it, you are perpetuating its notorious reputation. The value of freedom of speech should not be diluted into the freedom not to be offended. My advice to you, as you seem distressed, is to be reassured that able-minded people will not find these jokes amusing and not to visit the site.

  • anonmyous

    amazing. thank you :)

  • Michael

    Sums the page up pretty well. Completely agree with the family finding the uni ‘backward’ comment. Although the LSU Song and Rate your shag had done an equally fantastic job of encouraging similar sentiment

  • Anon

    Well done Rachel! Well written and addressing some important issues. You deserve an award for this

  • Mr Darcy

    Absolutely right. Please never ever accept this as “normal”.

    Please encourage women that they are worth far more than this, because if nobody was giving these overgrown teenage boys what they wanted, they would have to learn to be gentlemen!

    Please accept my apologies on behalf of all men who long for this culture to be different.

    God bless

  • Sophie

    Congratulations on this Rachel. Stand tall as the someone who was brave enough to say something plenty of other students are no doubt sat back and thinking.

    Whilst many of the spotted posts, and their affect on the student population, do come down to an individual’s interpretation of what is classed as ‘humour’ or having gone too far, there is an obvious blurred line (excuse the pun) surrounding what constitutes a ‘joke’ and what can be classed as abusive, offensive and even borderline racist at times and this is something that I would urge anyone posting to or on that page to consider before pressing enter (whether or not you are intending to upset anyone)…

    You should be commended (not ridiculed) for attempting to tackle an issue you are passionate about, no matter how controversial that issue is.

  • Sarahdee

    I think this is giving a voice to those without a voice. It’s great that it’s making people think about comments that are “just for a laugh”. Spotted is “liked” by so many people, but so many don’t think about what they are putting their name to. Go Rachel. Let the silent majority stand up and be counted – the worms are turning!

  • diomedes

    Is this a gag?