No one says it, but I hear it in all their actions. I hear it as goon is poured down people’s shirts
and coleslaw thrown at their mouths. I hear it in people’s cheers as nudie runs occur in Garema Place. I hear it as they tell me that ‘the college doesn’t ask us about the details and we don’t do anything that could fuck us over.’ And throughout the night, we didn’t do anything wrong. People had fun, and nobody was made to do anything that made them uncomfortable. Should that stop us from critically evaluating our traditions, though?
Even, in essence, the tradition of bucks and hens is inherently sexist; the traditions of marriage generally are. However, the norms of a pub-crawl that separates men and women are fundamentally hetero-normative and problematic. Yet, we shy away from this by saying that it’s opt-out, so you have a way out if you can’t stand the pressure. It’s not opt-in though, is it?
If you go to the college and you want to be a part of Bush Week, then you go to Bucks and Hens, and you act the way they expect you to at Bucks and Hens. You take part because ‘it’s more fun if everyone takes part’ and you join in chanting the name of a different college when everyone else starts doing it so we don’t get in trouble for doing things that could ‘fuck us over.’ The problem isn’t how they act; it’s that we must take part if we want to be a part of that night. It’s the expectation that men should act like this, that we should separate girls and boys for these depraved activities and that all the bucks are lusting after their hens.
It’s a good fall back, tradition. It sends the blame back generations to the people before people who were here before even we remember. ‘It’s out of our hands – it’s just how we do things,’ because the people who don’t like the tradition either don’t show up in the first place or don’t show up a second time to properly take it in.
I wish that I could write this article without sounding like I’m attacking the event. The greatest risks with opposing traditions is that its controversial. This causes people to become instantly defensive of opposition to an event like this. I invite you all, instead of reading this and ranting in an outrage, to engage in conversation with people to reassess. Nothing in this world is perfect, and we are all people who promote the idea of making things more accepting and better for people, this is simply another forum to do this.
If the event were properly opt-in, then it would be fine. However, the way that the college works, and the way I’m assuming most res-halls work is that you take part if you want to fit in. So, this is one tradition I would be happy to scrap and completely start again.