The news that Rebecca Meredith of Cambridge University debating society who being shouted down by a group of male ‘neanderthals’ from Glasgow University at a debating competition at the Glasgow University Union last week is enough to make a gentleman’s blood boil.
Ms Meredith is a highly skilled orator having been ranked 13th best speaker in the World Debating Championships in 2013. With her partner Marlena Valles she had returned to her home city of Glasgow for the competition and after the first five rounds of debating the pair was rated as the top of the remaining team. As Rebecca rose to speak for the final round, a group of men from the Glasgow union started a stream of focussed and misogynist shouts, cat calls and sexist comments. A female member of another debating team sitting behind the men told them to be quiet to be greeted with: “Shut up you frigid bitch, don’t you know anything, you’ve no right to speak here.” followed by a stream of abuse.
Male members of other universities who rose to speak later in the debate were not heckled in a similar way. Their comments were listened to with respect.
I have now read a number of reports of this incident and while I can find details of other female audience members coming to the defence of Rebecca, and being shouted down for their efforts, I am unable to find any suggestion that one single man in the 100 strong audience came to her defence against this verbal assault. Apparently this is a regular occurrence in the debating ‘bear pit’ of Glasgow University, a place which still has has an annual dinner to commemorate the men who, as recently as 1980, voted to exclude women.
I use the word ‘men’ here because it is clear that there wasn’t a single gentleman in the chamber. No gentleman sits quietly through such disgusting behaviour without speaking up against such appalling conduct. Whether or not drink was involved no man should be allowed to behave in this way and go unchallenged. No gentleman should sit quietly by while his fellow males abuse women in such a fashion whether it occurs in the hallowed halls of an ancient university or in a bar or on the street.
Only by stepping up and standing alongside women, defending them from such abuse and forcefully pointing out the error of their ways to the ignorant and misguided will gentlemen truly be able to hold their heads up in today’s society.
Stand up now gentlemen!
It is time for all true gentlemen to come to the aid of women.