Be A Better Human

This year, Be A Better Human

This year, Arc @ UNSW has decided to run the Be A Better Human campaign, which was originally launched, extremely successfully, at Flinders University, here at UNSW. The campaign aims to encourage every person in our university community to do their best to be just a little bit better when it comes to matters of respecting other people.

Here at Arc we stand with survivors of sexual misconduct, racism and discrimination.

As part of this campaign, we are asking each and every one of our UNSW community to commit to trying our best to be better humans. It’s time for all of us to learn a little bit more about the experiences of the people around us, to recognise our privileges and to work harder to be better


Consent means saying yes...and respecting the right to say no. Under current NSW law, consent only exists when a person freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in sexual intercourse and must be an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ not just the absence of a ‘no.’

Take for example the story of Josie and Drew. They have been seeing each other for a couple of weeks and things have been going well. After dinner one night they chat about having sex but after a few hot and heavy kisses, Drew notices that Josie is cringing a little and starting to pull away. What does he do?

A. Wait until Josie says something. She’s a big girl, she can speak up if she’s uncomfortable.

B. Get upset and angrily ask her why she isn’t into him.

C. Stop what he’s doing and ask her if she’s alright and if she’d like to take a break.

That’s right! C! Be like Drew and make sure you’re always paying attention to the messages your partner is sending you – both verbal and non-verbal.

What Drew has just sought is called affirmative consent – the searching for an absolute ‘yes’ rather than simply the absence of ‘no’.

Example Two: Jack and Xavier have been dating for a long time and are regular sexual partners. Xavier doesn’t drink or take drugs however, one night Jack is significantly intoxicated after drinking heavily for a couple of hours at a party they both attended. When they get home, Jack is slurring and unable to focus due to being significantly drunk, however, he voices that he wants to have sex with Xavier. What should Xavier do?

A. Do what Jack wants. He has consented so Xavier has a green light.

B. Tell Jack no and watch a movie instead.

Correct! B! And the movie is a cute romcom so that will be fun anyway!

There are some situations in which you can’t give consent. This includes if you are:

· Significantly intoxicated or affected by drugs

· Unable to understand what you are consenting to (i.e. there must be informed consent)

· Intimidated, coerced or threatened

· Submitting to the abuse of authority of a professional or any other trusted person

· Held against your will.

· Under the age of consent (16 years)

· Sexual intercourse without consent constitutes a sexual offence, whether you said no, were unable to say no, or didn’t say yes.


Consent and Communication

Before getting intimate with anyone, have a chat about the kinds of things you’re into and what you are expecting. Setting up boundaries, understanding wants and needs and communicating how you expect to be treated will create a positive and open environment. Have a chat about your sexual health status, and whether you’ve both been tested recently too. 

Start off by asking whether you can kiss, or touch your partner before jumping right in. Look for signs your partner is comfortable, such as enthusiastic participation, encouraging language and verbally saying ‘yes’ throughout. If you’re ever in doubt, make sure to ask. 

If your partner asks you to stop, or if they aren’t into it, slow down and give them some space. While it might not be what you want, respecting their wish to slow things down, take some time out, or stop all together is necessary. Talk to your partner and ask them what they’re feeling, and most importantly, listen. 

You have the right to be comfortable and confident in what is happening or what might happen, and the right to say no, no explanation necessary. Even if you have previously consented, and in whichever way you say it, your ‘no’ needs to be respected. Sex without consent constitutes is a sexual offence. [ON THIS SIDE INCLUDE A VISUAL VERSION] BEFORE Have a chat, set boundaries DURING Ask, look for signs 

IF THEY ASK YOU TO STOP Stop. No questions, no hesitation.



What are microaggressions? It’s a term that’s thrown around a bit these days but what does it actually refer to?

Microaggressions are everyday statements or behaviours often performed unintentionally that communicate hostility or discrimination towards a marginalized group. They are often based in harmful stereotypes and can contribute to a culture of fear and non-belonging.

In small doses microaggressions can be annoying but in large doses they can be extremely harmful.

There are many different types of microaggressions:

· Microinvalidations – subtle denial or attacks of people's experiences or feelings

o Example: "I don't see colour"

· Microinsults – insults that demean or discredit

o Example: "you don't look gay"

· Microassaults – explicit attacks

o Example: slurs, "Black people scare me"

Importantly, any of these types of microaggressions can be harmful to people's wellbeing. Call it out. Do better. Be there for those who may be affected by these statements and behaviours.

How to avoid using microaggressions:

1. Accept responsibility if you slip up and acknowledge the harm you have caused. Don’t get defensive when you are called out. You did wrong, there is no excuse, now all you can do is accept responsibility.

2. Simply commit to trying to be better. Do some work by reading, watching and listening to the experiences of people not like you. Work to change your behaviour/speech.

3. Educate yourself. The more you learn about others experiences, the more you will naturally start to avoid harmful behaviours and speech.


Online Dating | The Good, The Bad & The Fuckboys

Whether good or bad, dating apps are changing the way we communicate and well... date. The fact that we need to specify to friends that we met someone IRL, not online, speaks volumes. And unfortunately while many experiences of dating online can be extremely positive, a lot of us feel that if we are sent another unasked for picture of a penis we’re going to lose it.

Example: Skylar is browsing Tinder and has been chatting to a nice person for a little while. Suddenly, *ping* Skylar has received an image of that person’s genitals. Skylar never asked for that image and feels very uncomfortable. What should Skylar do?

A. Report the person to Tinder and/or submit a confidential report of the incident (by clicking the “...” icon)

B. Ask that person to not contact them again and remind them that it is not appropriate to send content like this to someone without consent

C. Unmatch the person and talk to a friend/confidant about the experience

D. Report the incident to the police

The answer is, that Skylar could do any of these options. Whatever they feel comfortable doing is totally the right thing in this situation.

Get to know the inner workings of your dating app or website of choice and how the reporting feature works. In situations where you feel your welfare is in danger (1) take screenshots of the conversation, and (2) call the police directly.

Image-Based Abuse

With the invent of technology has come many improvements to the way we live our lives but unfortunately, it has also opened up new opportunities for people to exploit others and commit crimes. One of those new online exploitations is Image-based abuse (also known as ‘revenge porn’) and it is extremely serious. In many cases image-based abuse is not about ‘revenge’, nor is it restricted to ‘porn’, and while it is mostly about the sharing of images without consent, it can also include the threat of an image being shared.

What you need to know:

· Posting nude images without the other person’s permission is illegal regardless of the person’s age or whether they originally consented to them being taken. If you post an intimate image of someone online without permission you face 3 years jail.

· If you learn there is a photo of you posted online without your permission, you can do something about it: (A) If it has been posted on social media, you can contact the relevant website and ask to have it removed, and (B) contact the Office of the E-Safety Commissioner or the police to report the matter. It’s easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed if this happens to you, but know that you are not to blame. You should be safe engaging in normal sexual activity – this is the perpetrators’ fault alone.

To receive assistance in removing an image online and reporting a matter, visit the E-Portal through the Office of the E-Safety Commissioner: esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse


Understanding Patriarchy

Before some of you say “Patriarchy doesn’t exist. It’s 2020 god dammit! Jacinda Ardern is one of the world’s most beloved leaders and Rey is arguably the most badass of all the Jedi's in Star Wars”, know that ‘patriarchy’ isn’t just a women’s issue, and it’s not a made up concept tied to feminism or trans and gay rights.

What is patriarchy?

A. Your father

B. Trump

C. A term that describes the societal system in which men and intrinsically valued higher than women and gender diverse people.

Patriarchy is the term used to describe the political and social systems in which men are generally the beneficiaries (more power and more privilege). Patriarchy shapes and continues to inform largely white male heterosexual identity and their sense of self from birth until death, valuing stereotypically ‘masculine’ qualities – power and extreme competitiveness for example –inadvertently devaluing women, people of ‘other’ ethnic backgrounds and the LGBTQIA+ community in the process.

“Patriarchy has no gender”– bell hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom.

The thing is, we can all be guilty from time to time of subscribing to these patriarchal norms, as we define ourselves and try to understand others around us – but men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus. Patriarchy is generally not an explicit ongoing effort by men to dominate women. It is a long-standing system that we are all born into and participate in, mostly unconsciously, feeding racism, sexism, homophobia and toxic masculinities in the process.

Patriarchy also negatively impacts on men as well. For those who do not conform to the traditional image of ultra masculine man, life under a patriarchal system becomes more difficult.


Rape Culture

The term ‘rape culture’ can sound pretty extreme and it elicits all kinds of responses, whether it’s scoffs of anger about the terminology and what it represents, or a deep sigh at the state of things. But what does the term mean?

Rape culture is used to describe the environment where sexual violence is normalised and excused – that it’s “just the way things are”.

Rape culture is perpetuated through media and pop-culture by use of misogynistic language and jokes, the objectification of women’s bodies and the glamorisation of violence, creating a culture that ignores women’s rights and safety and makes sexual coercion seem normal. Why is it so dangerous? Because it reinforces the continuum of sexual violence, starting with so called “jokes”, and finishing with rape and murder.

Examples of things that contribute to rape culture:

· Phrases like “she asked for it” or “boys will be boys”

· Attitudes based on gender stereotypes – that being a ‘man’ means you should be dominant and aggressive; that being a ‘woman’ means you need to be submissive and sexually passive; that men ought to score and women ought to be nice and not act so cold

· Catcalling

· Stalking

· Upskirting

Accepting rape myths only helps to create environments in which many individuals – women, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community – are disempowered.

Although, thankfully, many women and gender diverse people are never the victims of rape, the existence of sexual assault and rape in our community means women and gender diverse people do change their behaviour, whether it’s learnt (“don’t go out wearing that”) or out of fear (“I should get home before it’s too dark”). 50% of Australian women for example, don’t feel comfortable walking a short distance home after a night out for fear of being harassed or assaulted, whereas a guy more than likely would (79.2%).

So who are we kidding? Let’s all try to be better and speak up instead of staying silent. Let’s put a stop to the behaviour that normalises rape culture.


What to do if you see racism on campus

Here at UNSW, the campus is incredibly diverse. Over 30% of our student population are international students coming from a range of countries such as China, India and Indonesia. This diversity is something to be proud of but unfortunately, some people have other ideas.

If you, or someone you know, experiences racism on campus, there are places you can go to seek support.

1. Reporting racism - If you want to report racism on campus, go to the UNSW Student Complaints website. On this website is an online form through which you can submit your complaint about racism.

2. Mental health support - You can access mental health support through UNSW Counselling & Psychological Services. Any student can access this service for free.

3. Joining a community – To join a community of students of colour who are fighting to end racism on campus, join the SRC POC Collective today! To do so, just like their Facebook page and go along to one of their weekly meetings.

If you see racism on campus, you should also CALL IT OUT. Stand up for people by:

1. Kindly point out to the person who has said or acted in a racist way, why what they have done is wrong. This doesn’t have to be done in an angry or even serious tone, you should just tell them firmly that their actions are inappropriate.

2. Don’t back down if the person gets defensive.

3. Express your support to the person on the receiving end.

4. If the racism is happening in person and is being directed towards someone, go over to that person and put yourself between them and the perpetrator. Try to block them from the abuse.

For example: You are on a bus and you notice a man making comments about a woman’s headscarf. What should you do?

Answer: I know it’s a bit scary but, you should go over that woman and ask her if she wants to take a seat next to you instead. Then just talk to her about her life. And physically block her abuser from being able to speak to her. I know it is a scary thing to have to do but doing this as a white person in particular, will show that woman that you support her and you will be using your privilege to block her from receiving further abuse.


Toxic Masculinity

There are a lot of myths out there about what the term ‘toxic masculinity’ actually refers to. In fact, this confronting concept is supposed to positively change the lives of everyone, especially men. It is a recognition that living life as a man comes with a plethora of societal expectations; some positive, others negative.

In order to prove one’s masculinity, to be a man and not a boy, men are told from an early age to distance themselves from femininity (“pink is a girl’s colour”); to suppress emotion (“boys don’t cry”); to be tough and aggressive (“don’t be such a pussy”); to be seen as sexual with women (“hit it and quit it”) and to prove one’s heterosexuality through homophobia (“don’t be a sissy”).

This isn’t good for anybody, and only reinforces attitudes towards rape culture that excuses men’s violence and focuses instead on women needing to protect themselves. These attitudes also stifle men from expressing themselves, leading to depression and contributing to a suicide rate three times higher than women.

Are these examples of toxic masculinity?

?“Men shouldn’t be cooking”

?Having muscles and liking to be physically strong

?‘Locker room talk’ such as laughing and passing judgement about women’s sexual experiences

?Being a man and feeling comfortable and proud of that fact

So what can we do?

So what can we do to break the cycle?

1. Get to know yourself. Define your manhood, womanhood or whoever you want to be, free from stereotypes.

2. Think critically about the media’s portrayal of gender identities, relationships, sex and violence, and be supportive of alternative portrayals – e.g. that men can be empathetic; that women can be assertive.

3. Avoid using language that puts people down, objectifies or degrades.

4. Speak out if you hear a sexist joke. It’s not cool and it’s just lazy.

5. Respect people’s personal space and need for alone time.

6. Learn to communicate openly with your partner, lover or friend; that includes both the speaking and the listening parts.

7. Advocate and practice affirmative consent, never assume it’s given.

8. Know that the myths we mentioned earlier are just that, myths. Take it seriously if someone tells you they were sexually assaulted.

When it comes down to it, this is an issue of equality, not in the sense of ‘who has the most money or power’ but equality in building empathy, mutual respect and the ability to enjoy the same rights.


Gender Non-Conformity

Here at Arc, we understand that gender is varied and unique to each individual. Although there are many different recognised genders, we also understand that gender is a personal thing and that labels may not completely capture the diversity of experience here at UNSW and in the wider world. We do know, however, that we can all try to learn a bit more about gender non-conformity and try hard to be better humans.

There are a number of different genders. We will list some of them below:

· Cisgender – a person is cisgender if they identify as the same gender as that which was assigned to them at birth. If you were born with a penis, chances are you were assigned a

man at birth. If you feel like you are a man and you have a penis, chances are you are probably cisgender.

· Transgender – a transgender person is someone who was assigned a different gender at birth to what they identify with. For example, if you were assigned as a woman at birth but know that in your heart, you are a man, then you are probably transgender. NOTE: Being transgender has nothing to do with whether or not you have had any gender affirming surgeries.

· Non-binary – a non-binary person is someone that does not identify as either a man or a woman. Notably a non-binary person can feel like they have no gender, like they are a little bit more like a woman or man but not totally, or like their gender changes. Non-binary people often prefer to be referred to using different pronouns like they/them rather than she/her or he/him. Always ask someone what pronouns they feel comfortable with before referring to them.

· Intersex – an intersex person is someone that was born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical male or female definitions. For example, an intersex person may look mostly female but have typically male internal anatomy. The intersex experience can vary widely but sometimes can be impacted by harmful stereotypes held by medical professionals.

· Agender – an agender person is someone who feels that they have no gender whatsoever. Being agender does not ‘look’ a certain way and may be varied so always ask before you use certain pronouns or assume peoples’ genders.

· Gender fluid – a person who is gender fluid may feel that their gender fluxuates and changes. Sometimes they may feel like a woman, other times like a man, other times like a combination or neither. Again, the experience of gender fluid people varies. Some people might feel fluidity in their gender between identifying as a woman and man exclusively for example, while others might fluidly experience many different genders.

Importantly, a person might identify as one or many of the above genders. Additionally, it is ok to feel like you might be one of the above genders and later realise you are something else. Gender is personal and ever changing.


Being an Active Bystander

Being an active bystander means stepping in and stepping up when you notice something inappropriate is happening. Whether someone is making derogatory comments or jokes, making someone else uncomfortable or not taking ‘no’ as an answer, saying something and calling out behaviour can support the victim, and reframe the behaviour as wrong.

An active bystander will do four things; notice, identify, assess, and step up.


Notice what is happening, what your friends tell you or how others behave.


Try to identify whether the situation is a problem, asking yourself if you would act in this way, if this behaviour is acceptable or if everyone involved feels comfortable with what’s happening.


Assess the situation and whether it would be dangerous for you to step in and say something. Decide how you will intervene, whether its intervening in the moment or checking in at a later date.


Step up, and step in. Choosing to leave a situation, offering assistance and listening to the victim, calling out your friends negative behaviour – these are all ways to intervene.

For example: It’s 1:30am and you’re slaying the d-floor with a group of friends at the club. You scan the crowd and notice a guy is dancing a little too close with a woman he clearly does not know; her body language tells you this. Her posture is turned away from him and she’s looking out to the crowd. What do you do?


Identify – this is not something you would do or is acceptable

Assess – you decide to bring your group over to the girl and form a human wall between her and the guy

Step up – you do it.

This is just one example of how to be an active bystander – there are many more!

Sometimes being an active bystander can be difficult

For starters, we all fall victim to apathy at times. You might fail to notice an incident is occurring due to noise or other distractions or you might find it difficult to judge whether an incident such as the woman in the aforementioned club is at ‘high-risk’ or not – what if you misread the signs?

Research shows that people are less likely to help in situations where the perception of ‘need’ is ambiguous. The trick is to be present and notice what is occurring around you, and to learn to be critical of our own perceptions and attitudes of others. The worst that happens is your loved one understands that you care for them and want to help ensure their safety.

Second, you might feel uncertain about how to best intervene. You might not feel physically equipped to step in, or you might find the whole experience embarrassing, awkward or scary.

Looking out for someone is nothing to be embarrassed about. It demonstrates empathy and concern. Being an active bystander does not always require you to confront the situation yourself. You can contribute to defusing the situation by informing someone in a position of authority that an incident might be occurring – bar staff or campus security for example.

And remember that acting always feels more scary in thought than in reality.


Sexual Health

Sex can be great fun but it does come with some risks and nothing is sexier than preparedness, consent, and knowledge!

It is incredibly important to be open and honest with any sexual partners you have about your sexual health. Even for those in long term sexual partnerships, it is always important to get yourself tested.

Get to being a responsible adult today and head down to UNSW Health which offers a free sexual health test for any UNSW student. Book an appointment today: http://www.healthservices.unsw...


Ellie and Jane have been together on and off for over two years and have almost exclusively only had sex with each other during that time. Do they need to get tested for STI’s?

The answer: 

Absolutely! It’s a really good habit to get into to just get yourself tested on a regular basis regardless of whether you’re having sex with new people. Some conditions can stick around for a while undetected and it’s great to have piece of mind even if you are fairly sure that nothing will come up.


Many believe that if you are not having heterosexual sex there is no need to use contraception as there is no risk of pregnancy. PLEASE DON’T THINK THIS! Contraception is important not just for prevention of pregnancy but also to safeguard against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are a million and one contraceptive options out there, everything from the tried and true condom, to the dental dam. Research what might be right for you but always remember: NO LOVE WITHOUT A GLOVE.