- Arts & Literature
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By James Restall
A Cherwell article (available to read in full at the bottom of this page) which claimed that “posh girls lose their virginity at 15” has been removed from the newspaper’s website just one day after its original publication on Monday 20th August.
The lifestyle piece entitled “A guide to dating posh girls” provoked a storm of controversy both on Facebook and on the Cherwell’s website, with readers branding it “misogynistic” and “condescending”.
In a section entitled “Sex”, the article reads: “She’ll have had a lot of it, way more than you […] Posh Girls lose their virginity at 15, often to the same floppy-haired bloke (remember, they share everything). She duly worked her way through the Eton rugby team before re-eloping with the same floppy-haired wanker on her gap year in Phuket.”
The guide goes on to warn that spending time with a posh girl’s friends will “embody all the warmth and intimacy of a court room” as “Posh Girls share everything with one another” and that “they know more about your sex life than you do.”
OUSU’s Women’s Campaign Officer, Sarah Pine, commented on the article saying: “Treating women like objects that lack any autonomy in who they date or sleep with is outdated and boring. If this article is trying to be funny, the author needs to realise his audience won’t be impressed with such irrelevant stereotypes about women. If he’s being serious, then I am appalled at his inability to move into the 21st century and treat women like real people, who might have their own ideas about dating.”
The article also drew several negative comments from readers who criticised both its sexist tone and its similarity to an article in Vice magazine entitled “A Vice guide to dating rich girls”.
Jesus undergraduate Natasha Frost wrote on Facebook that the Cherwell guide was “offensive”, stating that it was: “misogynistic, and in a frighteningly casual way.”
She added: “There are a lot of substantial similarities with the Vice article (the idea that ‘posh/rich’ girls lose their virginity at a strikingly young age; the implication that they’re all inextricably right-wing; the comments about Mummy and Daddy) and the general theme – and tone – of the article might not be out-and-out plagiarism, but certainly constitutes cribbing. Boring cribbing at that.”
Sean Wyer, a student at Balliol, wrote: “Formula: take a Vice article, remove all the funny bits, replace them with shit half-baked Oxford references and some moronic ‘wry observations’ (read: bollocks) and you get… a passable piece of student journalism? Alas, perhaps more predictably, you get a steaming piece of “oh Christ how did this get past editing?”
Cherwell’s editors later replaced the feature with an apology but denied that claims of sexism or plagiarism had forced their hands.
The editors wrote: “we have removed the piece largely because we would hate for a misunderstanding of the piece to lead to the belief that stereotypes of the kind [author] Tom [Beardsworth] is satirising are a part of Oxford life or that misogyny is something that is accepted by the University or its students.”
They added: “In our view this piece was attempting to satirise the misogynistic (and, indeed, misandrist) ‘how to…’ dating guides that pervade the mainstream media. However, this tone was perhaps not conveyed as well as it should have been, and if it caused any offence then we are very sorry.”
Brasenose undergraduate Tom Beardsworth, the author of the article and Cherwell’s comment editor, declined to comment. Cherwell editors Grace Goddard and Barbara Speed were both unavailable for comment.
The original article in full:
A Guide to dating posh girls
Oxford is a melting pot of tastes, quirks and interests. A talent we all develop is to slice and dice people into certain categories in order to make sense of them, in order to pitch ourselves appropriately. Class, depressingly, remains the chief distinction. When it comes to finding a mate however, class differences throw up hilarious befuddlements for both sides. In the interests of averting mutual bafflement Cherwell brings you the Guide to Dating Posh Girls.
Meeting her parents
Contrary to expectation, her parents will be smashing. They’ll wine and dine you, take you to the theatre and maybe even abroad. Go on admit it, swallow your pride, her parents are lovely people. Sure, they’re viciously judging you but hold back the resentment – you’re doing exactly the same to them. Touché.
Meeting her friends
Posh Girls share everything with one another.
This makes meeting her friends difficult. Whilst the Spice Girls’ famous adage ‘if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends’ will bear you in great stead, it is devilishly difficult.
Posh Girls, ‘practically sisters’ since their years together in the boarding house, tell each other everything. Consequently they know more about your sex life than you do (and yes, this includes all the embarrassing cock-ups and habits she promised not to tell anyone). Relations between you and them will therefore embody all the warmth and intimacy of a court room.
Officially, it is very bad form to bring up politics. You’ll rarely hear the young lady mention something newsworthy and she will profess ignorance when you reference a current political controversy. Don’t be fooled however. Posh Girls can feign an apolitical apathy because their allegiances are a given, duh!
About 3 months in, the inner Tory will flash. Her godfather, it casually emerges, is a Cabinet minister. Or she’s leaving town for the evening to ‘have supper in the Lords’. From this point on, your ears become antennae, acutely aware to her every utterance, lacing it with meaning and innuendo.
Even if your sensibilities are centre-ground, be prepared to discover a socialist conscience. A passing mention of her grandfather, who leads to county hunt, will inexplicably lead to you embracing the Animal Rights lobby, disavowing meat and sponsoring a stray fox called Arthur. Beware, dating a Posh Girl has the same political effect as going to Port and Policy: it turns you into a raging lefty.
She will be exceedingly well travelled, having had the obligatory gap year in Thailand. In between the annual pilgrimages to Cloisters at Christmas and Cannes in summer, she will be frequenting the European capitals, visiting prep school pen pals and Pablo, her Barcelona tennis-camp coach.
Within her own country she remains firmly settled in the South. The furthest north she will have been is LMH and even that she found ‘a bit grim’.
If she does brave it and travels north to see you, be sensitive. As she disembarks the train, refrain from mocking her attire (wellingtons and a ski jacket – ‘but I thought it’d be freezing’) and instead congratulate her on having made it thus far. When driving her back to your place, it’s a good idea to make a detour past the local Waitrose. This will settle her down considerably.
She’ll have had a lot of it, way more than you. Do not believe any assertions to the contrary, she is massaging your fragile ego. Posh Girls lose their virginity at 15, often to the same floppy-haired bloke (remember, they share everything). She duly worked her way through the Eton rugby team before re-eloping with the same floppy-haired wanker on her gap year in Phuket.
Mercilessly, most of her past conquests will be at Oxford and you won’t be able to bust a move in Park End without bumping into one of them. Aesthetically he is a beautiful man: taller, broader, and handsomer than you will ever be. But Posh Girls can see past that right? (Ha!)
This will happen. Prepare for the inevitable eventuality.
Suspicions, aroused by her indefatigable flirting, that she is cheating on you are wholly accurate. Take it on the chin. This was always her plan. You weren’t dumped, just duped.
The article can also be viewed in cache form here