opinion

"I lived at Baxter College at UNSW. And I sang sexist chants - about the men."

There has been a bit of a fuss about a chant made by students at the University of New South Wales.

The recorded chant, entitled ‘Aruba Aruba’, obtained by Junkee, has been condemned as ‘objectifying women’ and ‘glorifying rape’.

The lyrics of the chant are as follows:

I wish that all the ladies
Were little red foxes
And if I were a hunter
I’d shoot them in their boxes

I wish that all the ladies
Were buns in the oven
And if I were a baker
I’d cream them by the dozen

I wish that all the ladies
Were holes in the road
And if I was a dump truck
I’d fill them with my load

A media release from the UNSW SRC Women’s Collective says the chant took place at Phillip Baxter College’s ‘Boys Night Out’ and is a ‘reflection of the daily experiences of women in residential colleges’.

I beg to differ.

Although its not my intention to minimise rape culture or sexual assaults that occur on university and college campuses, as a female former resident of Phillip Baxter College, I think calling out men ignores the whole picture. Because, the women of Baxter College would give as good as they got.

College is a strange place. You’re fresh out of high school, have just moved out of home when all of a sudden you enter this bubble filled with intense friendships, heavy drinking and bundles of free time. For me, moving into college felt like a rite of passage. It’s the halfway point between living at home and adulthood. You have all your meals cooked for you, your sheets cleaned and you never have to worry about paying electricity bills on time. It made perfect sense.

I’d been warned about the drinking. When you gather more than 200 18 and 19-year-olds under one roof, who could now ~legally~ buy alcohol for the first time, drinking excessive amounts was inevitable. Drinking is the heart of college-life.

Yes, some would argue it’s the life-long friendships or the bonding over the stomach-churning food we were served, but drinking was always the centrepoint. During the semester we’d have around three purely drinking events a week, and that didn’t include the mandatory going out on a Saturday night.

Drinking has always been a large part of college culture. Image via iStock.
ADVERTISEMENT

One of these events was 'Boys Night Out'. This usually included downing a case of alcohol (that's around 24 standard drinks) and visiting a strip club somewhere. Similarly, we girls would have 'Girls Night Out' on the same night. We liked to think we were more mature, opting for cocktails instead, yet we'd always end the night by hiring a male stripper. Because class.

The chant recorded on this year's 'Boys Night Out' is not uncommon. It has been part of the Baxter vocab for years and isn't limited to a singular evening. No, this chant was rolled out on the way to all our events or in the safety of our hallways during an in-house party. It was a way of getting riled up for the night. And the girls would sing it right back. Sometimes we would freestyle our own lyrics, but they would usually go a little something like this:

I wish that all the fellas,
were in IT!
And I was a keyboard,
they'd always hit my G!

I wish all the fellas
were candles all a-glow
and if it was my birthday
I'd give 'em a big blow!

I wish all the fellas
Were hot dogs in a stand
And I wanted a snack
I'd touch their wieners with my hand!

I wish all the fellas
were tools in a shed
and I was a hammer
I'd nail 'em to my bed!

I wish all the fellas
were hurdles in the way
and I was an athlete
I'd jump 'em right away!

I wish all the fellas
Were sailors in the navy
And I was their sergeant
I'd spank 'em like a baby!

I wish all the fellas
were Santa's in a sleigh
and I was Mrs. Claus
I'd give 'em a nice lay!

I wish all the fellas
were horses in a row
and I was a jockey
I'd ride 'em nice and slow!

I wish all the fellas
were ice-blocks on a stick
and I was real hungry
I'd give 'em a nice lick!

And so on.

Looking back now, I realise how the male chants can be interpreted as 'objectifying women', but what does it mean that the women gave as good as they got. I know now - a little older and wiser - that the chants could have made people who had been sexually assaulted feel pretty bad.  But at the time, as a young person, they were a harmless way of getting exciting for the night ahead. They were a form of unity, not exclusion.

A fellow Baxterian told me they'd heard the Aruba chant in at least three different continents by both men and women. "To accuse people for inciting rape by chanting this is no different to accusing people for inciting rape by singing Lil Wayne (and other such explicit artists, male OR female). They may have terrible lyrics but you sing it because it's catchy. Let's not tarnish a certain few people's reputation for chanting something millions of people have done."

It's a valid point. Baxter is a scapegoat in this situation. The deeper issue here is college life in general. A life dedicated to drinking, making friends, drinking more and doing stupid things.

If we really want to make a difference we need to first start by changing the culture. This means the excessive drinking, the misogynistic tendencies (which reflects life in general) and the reason why we think chanting songs like this is okay.

I like to think of myself as a level-headed woman. Yes I am a feminist. Yes I am all for women's rights. And yes I am ashamed that I failed to connect how these lyrics would affect victims of rape. But it is a two way street. Something we need to think about before placing the blame on one gender only.

00:00 / ???