Has Student Event Carnage Taken Sexism Too Far?


This upcoming Monday marks the return of one of Southampton’s favourite student events… Carnage. A bar/club crawl stretching over seven venues with a choice of ending destinations: Myth or Café Parfait. However, after reviewing the dress code for Monday’s event and attending the very first Carnage of the year, why the event is so popular and ‘ALWAYS sells out weeks in advance’ (as the official Carnage website claims) is the myth I am faced with.

The event allows the student (after paying £10 for a t-shirt) free entry into seven of the city’s most popular student venues with the aim of encouraging them to dress up to fit the events theme, and arguably to get extremely drunk along the way. The first Carnage event began with good intentions for an honorable cause; set up by Birmingham University by the Raise and Give society with all proceeds going to charity. Unfortunately, the event seems to have taken a more sinister turn.

My problem with this event is the fancy dress themes. Although admittedly, not all themes have an inherent sexist nature, I find it hard to ignore the types of dress the last and next event had/will have. November’s event saw thousands of students hit the streets in their emergency service costumes… one search of ‘emergency service fancy dress’ on Google brings back endless hits of Photoshopped women in skimpy latex outfits with fishnet tights and knee high leather boots. However, for the men of course, baggy outfits covering the whole body is the perfectly acceptable. I am not blind enough to ignore the implications these kind of outfits have on gender stereotypes and the sexist attitudes these outfits have for today’s society, although as a liberal I do believe we are all entitled to dress as we choose, and would be lying if I said I haven’t/wouldn’t wear this type of outfit.

However, when asked by my flat mate if I wanted to get tickets for the upcoming Carnage with the theme of ‘Playboys vs. Bunny Girls’ I failed to be so open minded. For this event, the degree of choice in what each sex wears is non-existent. The boys shall be pimps, and the girls their bunnies – and another quick search tells me a bunny girl outfit is a revealing swimming costume. Once again, it is not the bunny or the pimp that I have a problem with – it’s the way in which the event delegates the outfits to each sex and the endless implications this has: women being owned by men, men being able to sell women and women being on level with animals (a lower being) to name just a few. But then again, I shouldn’t really be so surprised by these implicit messages, considering Carnage’s sponsors: Nuts, Zoo and Loaded Magazine (with the motto ‘for men who should know better’ – what a great line for a culture trying to tackle issues of consent!).

Regardless of whether I should be surprised or not, this theme in particular makes me feel uncomfortable. Personally, I couldn’t allow myself to pay to dress up as something which clearly implies misogynistic values, all the while supporting companies which (arguably, I know) degrade women. Hence, this sexist nature of the event is just one the reasons I shall not be attending a Carnage event in the foreseeable future. For the time being I shall leave the violence, anti-social behaviour and even a suicide at Bath in 2008 out of my argument and leave it down to you to decide whether you support the event. For more information you could always look at Carnage’s Twitter page, which pleasantly has a background consisting purely of girls (most of which showing a lot of skin) – although I’m sure the event is for both sexes – perhaps just by coincidence the guys managed to dodge the camera on this occasion.


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