In the course of a week, Kirk Sneade has become one of the most talked about figures at UCL. For those of you that haven’t been on Facebook, Twitter or pimedia.org.uk, let me get you up to speed. Kirk Sneade and his campaign manager, Mark Stander, have launched a campaign for Kirk to be elected women’s officer, voting for which closes on 8 March. Kirk Sneade has openly admitted that the whole campaign started as a joke but is one which he is now taking seriously. I’d like to refute that, the whole campaign is still a joke.
Feminism, in its purest definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Anyone can be a feminist, regardless of sex and I believe that the majority of people are. Whether Kirk Sneade is a feminist is a question I cannot answer. With that said, when your campaign video is of Captain Kirk punching a woman, you claim to offer the same support to women as their bras, and you’re running because “bitches deserve better”, I’m left with the nagging suspicion that women’s rights aren’t high up on Kirk’s list of priorities.
I fully believe that we need a women’s officer, a view which Kirk doesn’t share. Women still do not have equality with men and still require representation. We face issues of unaffordable childcare, unequal pay, harassment and discrimination by men. One in four of us will be subjected, or has been subjected, to domestic violence and we exist in a culture where accusations of rape often result in the raped being accused. I know that many men stand with women in facing these problems. Feminist rallies are not after all, only for women attendees. However, one face I have yet to see at a rally, the women’s forum or the gender and feminist society is Kirk Sneade’s. It is not because he is a man that I think he is unfit to run, it is because he doesn’t care about women’s rights. Kirk Sneade has never been involved in feminist campaigns at UCL or external to it. How can someone with such inexperience, such disinterest be given the role of women’s officer?
Kirk claims that he will end the role entirely, preferring for there to be a single equalities officer. This statement is utterly absurd. UCLU did have an equalities officer but the role was impossible. One person cannot represent the needs of women, Black and Minority Ethnics (BME) students, LGBT+ students, disabled students and any other groups in a university as large as UCL. Kirk is living in a dream world if he believes that we are all treated equally. Each of those aforementioned groups face differing forms of discrimination which needs targeting. I’m sorry Kirk but that’s the harsh reality of the world we live in.
Another harsh reality is that the position of women’s officer can only be abolished by the union council, not Kirk Sneade. A point put forward by Daniel Thomas in his article, Captain Kirk to the Rescue. Given that a referendum of UCL students endorsed the position being made full-time in the first place, such abolition appears unlikely.
That leaves us with the ludicrous scenario of Kirk Sneade being women’s officer. I personally couldn’t imagine going to speak to Kirk if I faced harassment, abuse or discrimination. How could I when his removed manifesto suggested “herding up the pretty girls you see around campus and keeping them ready for emergency transport to the Roxy later on when things start to get a little dry”.
If this article does nothing else I would like it to end the ridiculous misconception that Kirk Sneade and Mark Stander are some kind of anti-heroes, standing up to the big bad union. Kirk Sneade and Mark Stander are two individuals who created a misogynistic campaign to get a few laughs and generate some memes. Now that they have faced criticism, and been told this stunt could affect their employability, they’ve claimed it’s a serious campaign. I’d like to argue that had Kirk and Mark targeted their campaign towards the role of BME officer. Had they created memes mocking the struggle for civil rights, the UCL student body would be in uproar. Imagine the pair mocking BME students, claiming that the need for an officer to represent them was ludicrous. It is unthinkable. Just as it should have been unthinkable for Kirk and Mark to run a campaign mocking the need for a woman’s officer.
Can a man be a woman’s officer? I think so. This might anger a lot of women but I believe there are men out there who passionately care about women’s rights, who work hard to champion them and would strive for equality. Kirk Sneade is not of that number. Please withdraw yourself from the elections Kirk. Your campaign wasn’t funny at the start and its continuation is alienating you from many students and causing offence across campus.
Those who wish to voice their disapproval can sign a statement calling for Kirk’s candidacy withdrawal at http://ucluwomensnetwork.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/statement-on-kirk-sneades-candidacy-in-the-uclu-womens-officer-elections/