Has a change.org petition really ever changed anything? On the whole: no. But its non-committal brand of democracy has, finally, proved useful, after a student managed to get a Dapper Laughs appearance at her university cancelled off the back of a 700-signature campaign.
In case you missed it, Dapper – real name Daniel O'Reilly – was scheduled to appear at the Cardiff Student Union in February as part of his nationwide tour. It seems like making the leap from being a prick in six-second bursts on Vine to being a prick in half-hour ordeals on ITV2 has served Dapper Laughs well; most of the venues on his tour are relatively large O2-sponsored ones. While a student union building might seem anomalously small, Cardiff's Y Plas actually holds 1,000 people.
Aside from the burning question – i.e. how can Dapper Laughs possibly conceive of enough jokes about his dick to satisfy 1000 or more paying punters each night on a 12-stop headline tour – many see a larger problem with Dapper. And that is that his brand of fuck-her-right-in-the-pussy shouty street banter is basically the antithesis of that anti-catcalling video that came out the other day. His misogynist crap might not just be unfunny, it might be making life more dangerous and stressful for women, too.
I spoke to Cardiff student Vicky Chandler about Dapper, banter and how she made a change.org petition that actually managed to change.org something.
VICE: So why do you hate Dapper Laughs so much? What's your beef, man?
Vicky Chandler: It's not beef with Dapper Laughs, directly. If it was any other overly sexist comedian, I'd have a problem with it, and what I've said from the outset is that this petition wasn't directly targeted at him, it was more at our university for allowing him to perform. I just think his jokes are not funny. They pick on a really sensitive part of society that we still have a massive problem with, which is sexual harassment, and he's tailored it in a really immature way to make young men especially not understand that what they're doing is completely wrong. He normalises it and that's the issue I have.
So many people are getting confused and are like, 'Oh, how can you hate him?' And it's like: I don't hate him, I just hate the situation.
So what was it that he was planning to do? To play at the Student Union?
Well, he's got a tour and it started in February, and our Student Union is the only academic venue he's performing at — the rest of them are mostly O2 academies.
Let's face it, it's not great is it ( via)
How quickly did your petition gain support?
Within four days we had like well over 700 signatures from staff and students – quite a few staff signed it as well – and then I put it in the hands of the SU. They did a campus-wide poll that emailed all 30,000 students with the question "Do you think he should be banned?" Within two days, 89 percent of the people had responded saying "yes". So there was clear support of us, rather than him.
And again, it wasn't about, "He's not allowed to play in Cardiff" – we just wouldn't want him at our Student Union, especially when they have policies. Last year they passed an anti-lad culture policy, which made sure that on our student nights there's no hurtful comments being made about girls, and they also have a zero-tolerance policy that tackles sexual assault. So it completely contradicts that.
It definitely seems a strange choice.
When I told the SU president, he didn't even know Dapper had been booked, so that's a problem. Acts at the students union have been booked from an external venue, so there was no vetting process to stop someone being booked, which they're changing now because of the petition. Everyone has to be vetted now.
So you could have done like a race rally there, or something?
Exactly. You wouldn't have someone that was being incredibly hurtful about gay people, or mocking disabled people or black people.
So Frankie Boyle.
Yeah. You wouldn't have that at a university.
Have your fellow students been supportive?
Actually the funniest comment I got about the petition was this guy who was like, "I'd get it if you were going to start a petition about drug problems." So he called me boring for starting a petition about women's rights, but he said he wouldn't have found me boring if it was about tackling drug issues, which I just found hilarious. Like: he was all up for a petition. "Go ahead, petition, but not about women."
Did you get any grief from the internet's fun and delightful cast of characters?
I made the mistake of scrolling down the Daily Mail article and having a look there. Not great. I think they were just very angry that a woman had even spoken. It's like: "Oh, don't get your knickers in a twist." People saying, "Oh, it's just another boring feminist," and, "You know the girls of Cardiff just haven't been stung in a while," and that was from a girl. Like, a girl actually said, "Oh, some of these girls haven't been stung in a while."
Yeah, charming. But the majority have been very supportive. Loads of men, surprisingly. I didn't think there would be that many blokes actually supporting it, but obviously the minority do speak louder sometimes, you know, it's quite hurtful. Especially when they don't know you and they start, and especially because of Dapper Laughs' sort of jokes, the kinds of men and women that are against you are the sort of people that will criticise your appearance and will talk about you in a horribly sexual way.
Girls? Slags! ( via)
A lot of people explain away what Dapper does under the immortal defence of: 'But it's just banter." Do you agree or do you think it's more than that?
What, do I think his jokes are more than banter?
Would you say "it's just banter" or would you say "it's slightly more than banter"?
No. "Slightly" is an understatement. One common comment I've got is, "My god, you just need to be funnier, you need to know what comedy is." I know what comedy is, I'm going to a comedy show tonight, I love comedy and I can get banter and I can understand banter. I've got a lot of boy mates – it's not banter, what he's saying. Teaching men to randomly go up to girls in the street and say, "Hey, can I have your number?" – that's not banter, it's annoying. Some of it is borderline sexual harassment.
I just really want people to realise that sexual assault is so common. In my three years of university alone I've been groped, someone masturbated at me in a nightclub, he just like pulled out—
At you? Like: at you?
I know – he just pulled down his trousers and went for it. You know, I've been shouted at. The other night I was walking to the shops in tracksuit bottoms and three times a car honked at me and shouted at me, three times in the space of five minutes. And I was just wearing tracksuit bottoms. I just don't think they even look at what you're wearing now, they just go, "Oh look, there's a girl, let's shout at her."
"There's a female, let's just make noise"?
Yeah. They can like smell you from afar. Oestrogen. But the thing is, men can be proper feminists. We live in the 21st century. It's 2014 and people are still shouting "I want to get you proper moist" in the streets to girls. When Dapper Laughs does it, it kind of can come across as being charismatic. But if you have some 15-year-old kid shouting it at you in the street, it's like: no.
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