The success of new no strings attached hookup site ShagAtUni.com (sister site of DateAtUni.com) is incredible, with a membership of 30,000 since its inception this October. The site operates with a 60-40 per cent ratio of guys to girls and only shows the profile pictures of scantily clad female members on its homepage, but founder Tom Thurlow insists the site isn’t sexist in any way. For girls registration to ShagAtUni is completely free of charge.
A recent report entitled ‘Just the Women’ released by organisations Eaves, Equality Now, the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Object has slated the portrayal of women in the British press through page 3 modelling and upskirt photography. In addition the recent decision by the Church of England to forbid women bishops has created a maelstrom of anger and controversy over sex and gender politics: how do sites such as ShagAtUni present themselves and operate?
Liv.History (under the pseudonym Rachel) signed up to find out more.
Immediately after registering a box popped up saying Ahmed (21) from Greater Manchester viewed the profile: was this to be the start of a saucy one night encounter? I decided to survey the field a bit more: the site is evidently not limited to students as most searches unearth 30 year old men in various levels of undress/fancy dress – one girl talks about a key fetish, while another profile picture shows a man with a sword and lightsaber. ShagAtUni might try to sell itself as titillation and tease, but the sordid mugshots of torsos and erections which litter its membership dirty Thurlow’s benign idea that, “meeting new partners for sex is something that can be done with no strings attached. It’s a lot of fun.” After half an hour I’d seen enough, I decided to leave the messages (“Hi Rachel, how are you?” from Brad and “Hey I’m Joe what are you looking for?”) unanswered and try and put the availability of an easy lay into its historical context.
Rupert Murdoch relaunched The Sun in 1969 with his (clothed) glamour models and a year later Larry Lamb printed the first naked breast in the same paper. Page 3 has been controversial from the start: 1986 saw MP Clare Short fail to successfully ban the practice, The Sunday Sport printed Linsey Dawn McKenzie topless on her 16th birthday in 1994 before the law was changed in 2003 raising the legal age of topless modelling to 18.
Pamela Anderson and Katie Price have become champions of neo-feminism after careers in porn – is it prudish to argue page 3 is anything less than a chance for women to find empowerment? The pictures uploaded to ShagAtUni have clearly taken inspiration from the glamour stars: topless or pouting girls professing an interest in hardcore sexual activities – who are we to prohibit this? National disgust at the Anglican ruling against equality for women reveals our societal opposition to any gender discrimination and it could be that sex websites, pornography and page three (as long as they involve willing participants) are merely progressive feminism in action.
In 1275 Edward I instituted the first law establishing an age of consent in England (12 years old) – that is now 16 years for both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the UK. ShagAtUni doesn’t ask for any proof of age and any number of its many thousand members could be lying about the requisite 18 years.
Does ShagAtUni do any harm? The site features predominantly middle-aged men, worried looking virgins, fetishists and voyeurs seeking partners, all set within an incredibly loosely plugged ‘university’ format. Is it nothing short of pseudo porn? All members sign themselves on of their own volition and there isn’t any money to be made… however marketing such a website at barely legal, emotionally vulnerable and self conscious students? Rachel’s signing off for good.