ON RUPERT READ

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by Robyn Sands

At the end of last month Green Party parliamentary candidate Rupert Read caused widespread offence by posting a series of tweets appearing to question the validity of trans women’s gender identities and claimed to be ‘troubled’ by use of the word cisgender, in opposition to the term ‘transgender’.

He then tweeted a blog post he’d written in January 2013 in which he defended feminist writers, such as Julie Burchill, who had been accused of transphobia, and described trans status as a sort of “opt-in version of what it means to be a woman”. His tweets were a response to a controversial and transphobic poster seen in women’s toilets in Bristol University, which heavily implied that allowing trans women in to women’s toilets would lead to them assaulting cis women, and he seemed to be defending that position. He has since issued an apology, and responded to criticisms by saying that he only meant to “discuss a hypothetical philosophical position”. He further stated that “All that I have done is join many feminists in saying that it is up to women, not anyone else- and certainly not me- to decide who gets let in to women-only spaces, such as women’s toilets”.

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NO MORE BREASTS – A “HUGE STEP FOR CHALLENGING MEDIA SEXISM”?

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by Robyn Sands

Topless page 3 models have been a seminal feature of the Sun newspaper since 1970, less than a year after it was bought by Rupert Murdoch. You would have had to have been living under a rock to miss the media furore surrounding page 3 last week as the Times, the Sun’s sister paper, reported that the paper would be pulling the feature, before the Sun revealed it had all been a spectacularly banterous effort to make women with dissenting opinions look stupid.

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ON SPLITTING THE LEFT

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by anonymous

Over the Christmas period, I had the unusual experience of being asked to speak with the Burgess Hill Labour Party about why I don’t believe a Green vote splits the left. With the rising profile of the Greens due to controversy of their proposed exclusion from the upcoming leaders’ debates and Sadiq Khan’s appointment to deal with the ‘threat’ posed to Labour by the Green Party, it seemed a germaine subject, but it was quite a difficult sell. Burgess Hill Labour party is a branch of Labour that behaves as if Tony Blair never happened and I am all the more sympathetic towards them for it, but when I hear members of the radical left talk about fighting their corner within the Labour party, I begin to despair at the state of political discourse in this country.

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LET’S CHECK OUR THIN PRIVILEGE- AGAIN! A RESPONSE TO MATILDA CARTER’S “CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE A LITTLE MORE THOROUGHLY”

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Matilda Carter’s original article here.

by Robyn Sands

It doesn’t take a long look at society to see that ‘fat-shaming’ is a problem. Katie Hopkins recently put on 4 stone for a TV project called ‘To fat and back’, going from 8 to 12 stone (am I the only one who thinks she looks great?) with the express purpose of ‘proving’ to fat people that being fat is their fault for being ‘lazy’. And while her particular brand of in-your-face nastiness might not be representative of the entire country, her attitudes towards size are unfortunately widely held. Despite the average size for women in the UK being 16, shop mannequins and clothes models are nearly always a size 6 to 8, a ‘plus size’ model wears a UK size 12, and moral judgements about body size and shape are rampant in our media. This particularly affects women, who are taught from an early age that we are entitled to a smaller physical space than men.

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FERGUSON AND BEYOND: WHAT TO SAY NEXT

by Cadi Cliff

When a celebrity says something explicitly racist, we make a noisy ritual of shunning them. We’re able to do this because the multiculturalism movement changed the rules of civility.  It has taught us what not to say to each other, but not what to say next.

Michael Brown, 18, was shot on August 9 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The black teenager was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the subsequent protests have ignited debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans and use of force by the police. The grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer over the death of Eric Garner came ten days after a grand jury in Missouri decided that Darren Wilson should not face criminal charges. The failure of any prosecution in both the Brown, Martin, and Garner cases highlights a trend in the American judicial system; once is a tragedy, twice is a pattern.

Every time toxic, tragic events reveal the unequal ways that different Americans experience re-segregation and state violence, we talk about having a productive discussion, but we never really have it. Instead, we’ve regressed a half-century in our racial progress.Continue Reading

WORK IN A POST SCARCITY WORLD

by anonymous

Unemployment in this country, as well as in most of the Western world, is the buzzword on people’s lips. Our generation is constantly demonised as lazy, feckless and unable to face the harsh realities of adult life. We lack the work ethic of those before us, or so people say, and our entire country is doomed to economic failure because of it. Many of us choose to live off of minimum wage jobs and pursue other interests; there are even some people, though few in number, who choose to live off of welfare. Why? Well the right wing press would tell you it’s because our parents did a bad job of raising us. I would argue that it’s because we’re undergoing a fundamental shift in our way of life, and we’re still wedded to old, outdated ideas.

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CAN BUSINESS BE RADICAL?

by anonymous

Business seems to be the very opposite of a radical political strategy. Businesses are, after all, the primary unit of the way capitalists view the world and are, by virtue of their definition, intrinsically linked into the capitalist system. When left-wing radicals talk about how goods and services would be distributed in a post-capitalist world, they focus on need rather than profit, and social good rather than endless innovation. In the long-term, businesses as we know them are terrible for our livelihoods, our understanding of each other as people and for the majority of the human race. However, given the distinction between short-term and long-term strategies I laid out in my last article, the question remains: can business be part of a short-term radical political movement?Continue Reading

THE BLURRY LINE BETWEEN EVOLUTION AND REVOLUTION

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by anonymous

As Russell Brand and his particular form of revolutionary politics has seemingly become the popular voice of the disillusioned left in recent months, disengagement from electoral politics among us seems more and more prevalent. Brand’s views on the current political system are legitimate, insightful even, but as many left wing commentators have written in recent months, his conclusions are at best incomplete and, at worst, highly dangerous. Given the rise of UKIP and the right across Europe and growing inequality, it is important for us to acknowledge that revolution and evolution are not mutually exclusive. Continue Reading

ADULT EDUCATION AND THE FLYNN EFFECT

by anonymous

In a rather incendiary headline earlier this year, The Independent presented findings from a survey for Kings’ College London and the Royal Statistics Society that seemed to prove that the British public were “wrong about everything”. From overestimating the number of migrants in the country to believing that crime is rising whilst all the evidence shows that it is falling, it seems that we live in a society of stupid people who believe stupid things, which I’m sure The Independent are delighted about.Continue Reading

IN DEFENCE OF THEORY

by Jack Palmer

Like any well-trained student, I’ll open with a quote. It’s one from the forever-sniffing, forever-scruffy, cultural critic and contemporary theorist Slavoj Žižek: “We need theory more than ever today. We should not feel terrorized by this false sense of moralistic emergence: ‘no time for theory, people are starving’ and so on. My god, it is only through theory that we have at least a hope to learn what to do!”

Žižek’s assertion is a provocative one: it challenges our understanding of that word ‘theory’. In the scientific sphere, ‘theory’ means a comprehensively proven idea – one, crucially, that forms the foundation for knowledge. In the humanities by comparison, ‘theory’ is abstract: it’s speculative, faddish and maybe even a little indulgent. But the claim staked here is that theory in the humanities is not all groundless conjecture; for Žižek it’s vitally grounded, and where the real work of thinking happens.

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