The Oxford Young UKIP society has come under fire recently for its decision to distribute condoms bearing the slogan “Don’t waste an election” at the University Freshers’ Fair.
Whilst some regarded the slogan to be no more than a harmless pun, a number of students have expressed concerns that the slogan trivialises the issue of consent. Alice Nutting, the editor of Oxford-based feminist magazine Cuntry Living, responded:
“If we go with the idea that ‘election’ is an attempt at a witty pun on ‘erection’, they seem to be suggesting that not having sex when you’re horny is some sort of missed opportunity, which undermines the importance of obtaining enthusiastic consent. A far more appropriate message would have been ‘Got consent?’, especially given the high prevalence of sexual violence in this country.”
She also stated that such actions from UKIP were hardly surprising. Concerning the society more generally, she stated:
“UKIP seems far too focussed on scaremongering the public with immigration myths and making sexist gaffes, and not concerned enough about the real issues, such as protecting public services, prioritising welfare spending, and building more affordable housing. Their recent election success is sadly unsurprising, given the failure of the three main parties to properly address our national living standards crisis.”
Jack Duffin, Chairman of the Young Independence group linked with UKIP, was keen to defend the society’s actions. He wrote: “Youth pregnancy and STIs are on the rise, we are keen to address this issue rather than ignore it. It is ridiculous that the word election is instantly being linked to rape. Rape is a serious issue and people trying to belittle this with pathetic political point scoring is disgusting.”
Ian McDonald, also a member of the Young UKIP group, tweeted about the “positive response received at Oxford freshers” but made no mention of the distribution of condoms. He wrote: “Its [sic] been great sharing policies on how #UKIP can help young people.”
One Mansfield second-year student commented: “It is fairly clear that, given the endemic issues surrounding respect for women at UK universities at present, a slogan in which female sexual agency is totally ignored and imperative male action is championed represents UKIP’s anachronistic disregard for this fundamental problem in our society.”