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  • Writer's pictureOpine

Make University Debating Great Again

Why there is no need for gender divides in debating.

By Oliver James Pike

Views expressed in the Gaudie Opine are those of the individual writers and do not represent the opinions of AUSA, The Gaudie, or The University of Aberdeen.

Credit to Penn State

University debating has been in the gutter for a while. Safe space policies and speech codes along with mob harassment and the assailing of people's careers have created an atmosphere of silence and, with it, an overwhelming sense of boredom.

I remember debating in 6th form where we tackled all the bread and butter debates: does God exist? Is abortion moral? Or should gay marriage be legal? It didn't matter what your position on these questions was, debating back then was a game. You would be tasked to defend something even if you actually didn't agree with it. The result was a series of interesting devil's advocate style discussions. Yet when I came to Uni, the debate club (named The Debater for some reason) appeared more concerned with debates about dragon ownership and the spice girls. (They genuinely held these debates!)

I was once told that an abortion debate was not needed because the issue was no longer politically relevant. At the time, feminists were protesting the appointment of Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court with pro-choice signs littering the crowds, Brazil and Northern Ireland were aflame with debate and the very campus I suggested hold a debate was gripped by an argument over the affiliation of ALES. How in any world was this an irrelevant issue?

I have heard similar responses to suggestions such as a debate on feminism, Israel, immigration, Islam, transgenderism and many more. What we are left with are endless debates about Scottish independence, climate change and Brexit. Even with these, any take deemed too offensive or humorous will result in waves of virtuous gasping and (if you are lucky) a ban.

It appears that with the new year, The Debater will be continuing its descent into madness, go woke and as a result go broke. It was announced recently that The Debater (I really hate that name) is introducing the UK's first "Dudeless Debating". Said events will be only for those identifying as women in an attempt to provide a safe space for women to build up their confidence in public speaking.

Not only is this highly offensive to women because it assumes they need their hands held to be able to compete with the boys but it is divisive and exclusionary. Why (as has been done before with professional conferences and corporate quotas) have beneficial events and opportunities been fenced off for young men? Surely the same assistance should be provided to all regardless of what is between their legs. Unless The Debater provides similar events titled "Debate Don't Menstruate" then they will have shown themselves up as sexists.

If they don't, I will create my own debate club solely for straight white men. We will discuss topics such as boobs or bum, Fifth Gear or Top Gear and, of course, How to properly drain a radiator. No Girls Allowed! We will even have a secret password to our debating fort.

But seriously, imagine for a second if the tables were turned and male exclusive events hosting debates on topics in dire need of discussion were held. Imagine if men (only men) got together to discuss unequal treatment in the family courts, the performance of boys in education being in free fall and the record spike in male suicides. I doubt the identity politicians of University campuses would allow such a display of toxic masculinity to pass unnoticed.

The real problem with Dudeless Debating is that it reflects the mask slipping for these people. Their faux progressivism has receded to reveal a cliche of chauvinist ladies wishing to paint men as a problem. They don't just want Dudeless Debating they want a dudeless world. Of course, I and many others (around 26 confirmed) were unhappy with the decision and took to the comments section to voice our concerns. Some females noted it was patronising, some said it was anti-men and others suggested that it actually breached AUSA bylaws. All aforementioned comments were deleted faster than Hillary's emails leaving the two remaining positive responses. Not only do the organisers of debating at Aberdeen Uni want to create a hostile environment for groups of their choosing but they are covering their tracks in a censorious manner. This restriction of free speech and DEBATE around the very polices the society has adopted ought to disgrace any organisation wishing to call itself a debate club.

The Debater needs to abandon all this nonsense and begin to embrace what makes debating great: free speech, fruitful topics, and a sense of humour. Oh, and change that bloody name!


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