A motion to rename the St Hugh’s JCR room to the “Junior Common Womb” until the end of Trinity term has been defeated in an online ballot, with 84 Against and 64 For and 5 Abstentions. The motion came out of a wider debate about the inclusivity of college spaces sparked by the Welfare and Equal Opportunities (WEQ) committee women’s reps. In their “Womanifesto” they pledged to tackle the “male dominated” space of the JCR.
The motion follows a “Period Party” thrown by the women’s reps, which saw the JCR decorated in a red theme with anonymous period-related stories submitted by JCR members posted around the walls of the room, and a banner overhanging the event read “Welcome to the Womb”, birthing the name “womb” for the JCR.
One of the women’s reps said the purpose of the event was to “open discussion about a topic that’s often stigmatised and leave a lasting impression on the JCR as a space”.
She was positive about the debate of the motion in the most recent JCR meeting, telling us “I noticed many more women speaking in a JCR meeting than usual, and I myself spoke for the first time.” Although disappointed about the result of the vote she maintained “I won’t stop calling it the womb informally and I will endeavour to keep the banner on the wall”.
The debate caused controversy on the JCR Facebook page, where on a post thanking people for submissions of anonymous period stories, one commenter put “can I just ask why conversations around periods need to be normalised?”. This led to long exchanges which were largely civil, though several individuals disputed the claim the JCR was a male-dominated space.
The women’s reps conducted a survey of St Hugh’s women which found an almost unanimous feeling of wanting to use the JCR more, though the sample size was small, this is seen as evidence there is a serious problem that must be dealt with somehow.
They also stressed that use of the term “womb” was not supposed to alienate women that do not have wombs or men that do, and this was highlighted in social media posts as well.
Image credit: Jpbowen