Posters from an advertisement campaign for student smartcards in University College Cork’s (UCC) student centre cafe have been removed following objections submitted by the UCC Students’ Union, UCC Feminist Society and members of the staff and student bodies. The campaign was an attempt to market the discounts offered as part of the college’s smartcard service.
Posters, depicting female bodies, ran slogans such as “Cheap looking,” “Do my buns look big in this?” and “What’s your cup size?.” One advert contained the slogan “How long is your shlong?,” while another poster contained the words “Grow a..” followed by an image of a pear. The advertisements were criticised for their sexist portrayal of women and men, both online and directly to the management of the centre.
The issue sparked debate on social media, following the posting of images of the adverts to UCC Feminist Society’s Facebook page. In a post on their Facebook page, UCC Feminist Society described the campaign as “not only disrespectful and overly sexualised, [but] it also slut shames women with the ‘cheap looking’ poster.”
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, auditor of the society, Ellie Mahony, described what she believes is the wider impact of these messages: “Slut-shaming and comments on how women dress are major issues, as is cat-calling. Signs like this enable a culture in which such behaviour is seen as ok.” She explained that the society “immediately got comments from a number of students via email, that was a red flag and a sign that we needed to take decisive action.” Mahony added that the management of the student centre were cooperative when the issue was raised with them.
The signs were removed by the management of the Student Centre after the issue became known to college authorities. A meeting of UCC Students’ Union executive on Wednesday night led the union to also register a complaint with the management of the centre. Speaking to Trinity News, the secretary to the management team of Student Facilities and Services at UCC, Gráinne Thompson, stated that the advertisement campaign is currently under review by the team.