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26th April 2023

Pole and Burlesque Soc rehearsal labelled ‘degrading’ by senior staff member

During a rescheduled rehearsal outside the AGLC, two members of the Pole and Burlesque Society were attacked for their outfits and activity by a member of staff.

On April 18, members of the University’s Pole and Burlesque Society claim to have been told by a senior member of University staff that their rehearsal was ‘degrading to women’.

Iona, a law student, and another student who wishes to remain anonymous, rehearsed in tops and underwear on the Alan Gilbert Square, after a mix-up with room booking stopped them using a room in the Students’ Union.

Practising here, they were allegedly told by a female staff member that they resembled the ‘girls on page 3 of the newspaper’. This was presumably a reference to The Sun’s now discontinued practice of displaying topless women on that page.

When the students did not understand this reference, they were told that this was because they were international students who didn’t know ‘how things work’. This has been described as a ‘micro-aggression’ by the students involved.

The students were told that what they were doing would have been acceptable in ‘gym gear’, but that in the clothes they were wearing, it was provocative and degrading.

One student involved described the incident as “using unbalanced power relations to her advantage to promote her own misogynistic views”.

She continued, saying that “my friend whom I was rehearsing with felt so threatened by this woman she does not feel comfortable reporting her for fear of her degree or rights of residency being impacted.”

In an Instagram story posted to the @uomfeministcollective account, the student wrote that ‘if you can’t shake your ass, that ain’t my business or my problem.’

‘If you wanna wear conservative clothing, you go right ahead [….] So keep your whorephobix a$$ [sic] out my business.’

The University’s Instagram account @officialuom contacted one of the students involved, citing a zero tolerance to all ‘forms of harassment and discrimination’.

The message invited her to submit a formal report, which she has now done.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The University is strongly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and has zero tolerance to any forms of harassment and discrimination. We encourage students and staff to report any incidents to our Report and Support platform. Matters reported by students go to a trained advisor who will take a student-centred approach and help with support options.”

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