YANGON PRIDE KICKS OFF WITH NEW #LOVEISNOTACRIME CAMPAIGN

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by Lotty Clare

Content warning: sexual violence, corrective rape, sexual abuse, suicide.

Last Friday was the beginning of Yangon Pride celebrations in a country where human rights abuses are rife, and homosexuality is criminalised. The rising profile of LGBTQ+ rights in Myanmar provides precious hope for queer people in the country. However, the road to equality is a long one.  

Yangon’s 2020 Pride festival is organised by &PROUD and runs from January 18th to February 2nd. The opening day in Thakin Mya park attracted thousands of people. The city’s pride events include a boat parade, queer dance performances, drag shows, queer film screenings and panel discussions, and of course lots of rainbows. The films that will be shown include ‘A Simple Love Story’ a short documentary film that was given a distinction in the Wathann Film Festival but was not screened due to censorship, even though there was no nudity. The film centred around a trans couple and asked the question ‘does love have any gender?’. Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 3 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

Part Three (of Three): An Ideological Ambush and Choosing Utopia. Read Part One here and part Two here.

Here, another sinister aspect of the Trump campaign, now verified by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, was the invasive, online method through which I proposed that an amoral moneyed elite was not only manipulating, but also forcibly hijacking the public’s trust. I will again emphasise another, so far unacknowledged, caveat: this method of manufacturing investment not only cheats people short-term – including those vacuous nutjobs at the top- but sustains a deceptive, distinctly digital control well into the destructive future. Once removed and shiny, the technological medium of devices and social media is the perfect way to distract from the escalation of political inequality by cunningly feigning advancement.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 2 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

Part Two (of Three): Bladerunner 2049 and a Tragic Trajectory. Read Part One here and part Three here.

Yet, a year on and the opposite seemed to manifest. Last year’s big, sponsored march was populated by blatant careerists and women who seemed to think the Feminist conclusion lay in just stony vocational power. This was the severe, stifled energy I’d been feeling.  It wouldn’t have been surprising to see a placard that read: ‘Good women Go to Work!’ No wonder then, that there was also interpersonal tension and division between the various organisations at the demonstration: women were feeling competitive. Here, I will emphasise: to fixate on external acquirement such as an invincible social status and intensive office hours and treat them as if a modern romance, is to internalise a toxic masculinity that does not oppose but instead reinforces historic gender inequality. Follow this regressive trajectory, and not only do women begin to undermine their previous progress, but too, start to become foot soldiers in a universally dark tyranny.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 1 (OF 3)

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by Sunetra Senior

Part One (of Three): Bourgeois Beginnings. Read part Two here and Part Three here.

‘Are we in the right place?’ was a semi-serious question posed by a friend of mine at the 2018 Women’s March, which took place in London on 4th March to commemorate worldwide Women’s Day. Having been to many demonstrations between us, including the historic 2017 Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, we had sound reference points between us too. Usually, there’s a friendly, lively atmosphere. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next.

In 2018, however, the big women’s march was sedate, controlled, and most alarmingly of all: conformist. I even got elbowed in the face by a male police officer who told me to ‘stay within the demonstration line’. This was immediately after I’d passed a giant stone pedestal, encircled by a murder of male reporters, gathered creepily at that higher vantage point like  gigantic crows. Hitchcockian voyeurism aside, women also seemed to be adopting the strange, disciplinary mood. One female speaker said to keep fighting ‘even if it took another 100 years’. But where was the urgency? Where ‘was the anger’? as feminist performer Sophie Cameron tweeted out.Continue Reading

ON ANARCHY, ANTIFA, AND APATHY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

In a left wing social media group I am part of, a member recently asked whether anybody supported Antifa, before continuing on to state that he personally feels that “they sound like the fascists they are trying to rid the world of” and harming the potential of the left. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. Why do the words “anarchist” and “Antifa” provoke such strong negative reactions?Continue Reading

THE 2017 PAPUA NEW GUINEA ELECTION: BAD LUCK?

by Maud Webster

The 2017 Papua New Guinea election was fraught with allegations, violence and anger. Yet the object of the disquiet – Peter O’Neill – was still re-elected as Prime Minister. He represents the People’s National Congress Party, which has been rising rapidly in popularity over the past couple of decades. In 2002, they were in opposition with two votes, but entered government in 2007. Now, they hold twenty-seven. O’Neill has held the position since 2011 and just about holds it still, by obtaining support from minor parties and scrabbling together support for his party’s re-election. Following coalition discussions, his vote support margin stood at sixty votes to forty-six.

The election itself was blighted by disorganisation and electoral roll irregularities, in addition to initial dissatisfaction with O’Neill’s first term. Voters expressed concerns about the chaotic economy, rife with extensive borrowing. Whilst statistics show growth in GDP, growth has dropped from 13.3% in 2014 to a mere 2% in 2016.

The election itself was an appalling farce. Continue Reading

GOING BACKWARDS – OXFORD AND THE UNIVERSITY CLASS PROBLEM

by Laura Potts

I was shocked to see in recent news that Oxford university has been accused of ‘social apartheid’ after their student intake was analysed. This story joins the long standing and highly complicated debate around the wider concept of university equality and educational fairness, revealing some worrying patterns that have begun to emerge in recent years.

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IT’S A GIRL!

by Paige Selby-Green

“They’ll never do it,” I said, with total certainty. “I mean I’d love it – if it wasn’t Stephen Moffat writing it, at least – but they’ll never do it.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be so wrong.

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WHO DESERVES TEF GOLD? AND DOES IT MATTER?

by Laura Potts

Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.

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OUR LEADERS ARE DRAGGING US BACK TO THE COAL AGE

by Laura Potts

We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.

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THE URGENCY AND STATE OF SISTERHOOD IN 2017

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by Sunetra Senior

It’s becoming a popular thought in public consciousness that women ought to focus on their own autonomy and watch out for co-dependence on their closest female friends. It’s a third/fourth wave feminist philosophy that gained momentum through the hopeful nineties years, evidenced in such films as teenage clique critique ‘The Craft (1996). And surely, the thinker will say, a continued focus on personal freedom for women can only good? To these people I say: please remember we’re living in an unhinged, manipulative age.

With the infamous/illicit (?) inauguration on 20th January, we’ve just had Trumpeted to us social regression by at least 20 or so years so if the good fight for feminism is to keep up we must adapt the strategy accordingly. This means once again pushing for a support-group, grass-roots sort of approach – not unlike the Suffragettes who fought for the women’s right to vote in the early 19th century – whereupon more women not only campaign together, but sincerely support each other in their private relationships.  Continue Reading

DO WE LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY?

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by Richard Worth

Depending on how you feel, questioning whether we live in a democracy is either incredibly stupid or incredibly scary. In a democracy, every member who is eligible helps to decide how they are governed. Essentially everyone has the same voting power, the same level of influence over government, and the same means of expressing that influence.

But in reality this is an idealised version of democracy. In truth, we admit that there simply isn’t time for us to all have a say in every matter that affects us. Instead we elect officials who more or less represent what we want; accepting that they may stand for a few policies that we don’t agree with but we take the rough with the smooth. After all, the nature of democracy means one doesn’t get their choice every time. It’s the nation’s consensus.Continue Reading

ROAR: RAISING FUNDS FOR WOMEN’S REFUGES

by Tim Forster

Content warning: mentions domestic violence and abuse. 

As we know the Tories’ so-called austerity has been an attack on the working class — the economics of class war if you like —but cuts in public sector jobs, benefits and social services have hit women particularly hard.Continue Reading

A FUNNY THING ABOUT AUTISM

by Aaron Hood

Article mentions gun violence, death, ableism, and contains strong language.

I’m taking my meme lord hat off for a second for something a bit more serious. Recently my newsfeed has consisted of dank memes, depressing Trump based shenanigans and salacious nonsense about what celebrity has indulged in whatever inanity this week. It’s strange how little chance anything that the algorithm that dictates my social media viewing has of showing me something that holds any real interest to me.

I came across a study via my newsfeed showing that we’re not far off eradicating Autism from children in the womb or whatever witchcraft those science people do now.Continue Reading

HOW SUSTAINABLE WILL BRITAIN BE POST-BREXIT?

By Faizal Nor Izham

With negotiations for Brexit to be finally executed come March 2017, as announced by Theresa May last week, a burning question yet to be properly tackled by the Conservative Party is: what exactly is their overarching plan to ensure future economic sustainability and prosperity for the country? Now that a major source of economic strength has been cut off (read: migrants), a fully laid-out plan to outline Britain’s steps towards continued economic growth in their absence has yet to be tabled.

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UNIVERSITY OF KERALA AND FEMINIST THOUGHT

by Sam Naylor

From the 8 – 24th of August I attended a Generation UK – India programme. The fortnight programme was organised between the British Council and the University of Kerala, which was founded in 1937, to engage 46 British students and graduates with a taste of Contemporary India: Culture and Society. The study placement covered a lot of ground, ranging from a lecture on Indian foreign policy to visiting their ancient manuscript library, to learning the state language of Malayalam and gendering Indian popular cinema. The course’s content was as diverse as the state we were studying in and the people who attended the study trip.Continue Reading

SOCIAL EQUALITY, NOT SOCIAL MOBILITY

by Olivia Hanks

Theresa May’s indication earlier this month that she will reintroduce selective schooling has reignited the debate on ‘social mobility’. Tory backbenchers believe the secondary modern system (or the grammar school system, as they insist on calling it) was good for social mobility, but various reports support the opposite view, that selective schooling entrenches inequality. Of the tiny percentage of children from working class backgrounds who attended the old grammar schools, two-thirds did not manage to achieve three O-levels.Continue Reading

THOUGH IT MAY BE CRACKED, THE GLASS CEILING REMAINS

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by Emmanuel Agu

Classically, a university education especially one of Russell group or Red-Brick standard universities has been marked as a distinction of class mobility, we know that the those in the upper percentage of wealth in this country are typically high academic achievers. Factually that merit of class distinction has belonged disproportionately to white men; though due to a long legacy of educational reform and positive action to break down these barriers, the goal of societal equality is ever more obtainable.

As Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator states: girls are 30% more likely to go to university than boys, and that BME students remain on the top end of university admission statistics; facts that deserve much celebration as they have been attained largely without positive discrimination quotas.  Yet to one who chose to who see facts at only the surface level of the wider situation; this state of affairs only upsets him. He calls on the plight of the ‘white working class men’ espousing rhetoric concerning feminism “becoming detached from equality” and should instead reach to that of bridging the between women and working class men. Similarly in national focus on the BME attainment gap Nelson states, “In spite of all we hear to the contrary, this is a pretty good country in which to be young, gifted and black.”Continue Reading

CONFESSIONS OF A CORBYNITE: WHY I’M VOTING FOR OWEN SMITH

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by Elliot Folan

Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.

I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.Continue Reading

“WE’RE FIGHTING A DOUBLE BATTLE IN THIS WHITE-DOMINATED WORLD” – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TUTS

by Chris Jarvis

2016 will be the year of the Tut. After a crowdfunding campaign that achieved double its original target, The Tuts are set to release their debut album – Update Your Brain – in September. The all-woman three piece from Hayes have nurtured a loyal and growing fan base in their first few years, with tours alongside UK veterans Kate Nash, The Selecter and Sonic Boom Six helping to build a wide creoss-genre appeal.Continue Reading

CORBYN OR REVOLUTION

by Robyn Banks

They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.Continue Reading

WE’RE HERE. WE’RE QUEER. AND WE MATTER: THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health 

On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.

‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.Continue Reading

THE GENDER SLIDER – LGBT+ REPRESENTATION IN GAMING

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by Zoe Harding

TW: Homophobia, transphobia.

On June 2nd, the latest in the life-simulating retail behemoth Sims franchise, The Sims 4, was patched to allow players to create non-binary and transgender characters. As IBTimes reported, the free update ‘unlocks over 700 items of clothing’ for either of the game’s binary genders, allowing ‘Female sims [to] wear suits like Ellen [DeGeneres], and male Sims [to] wear heels like Prince.’ This update has apparently been a year in the making in conjunction with GLAAD, but it was launched with little fanfare (most major gaming sites haven’t picked up the story, and there’s been comparatively little buzz online) and provided completely free of charge.

That last part was the most surprising for those versed in the gaming zeitgeist. EA, which owns The Sims’ publisher Maxis, is famous for its brutally exploitative commercial tactics and complete lack of corporate ethics, but they do have a surprisingly positive reputation for LGBT equality, at least amongst their workers. While it’s depressing that it took four massive games, sixteen years, 114 (and counting) editions and expansions and billions of gamer-hours of deleting the ladders leading into swimming pools to finally realise the dream of letting people put boy clothes on their girl Sims, it is encouraging that even a product like The Sims is finally starting to include people who aren’t just cisgender and straight.Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

“I’M NOT JUST SOME TOKEN BUNNY”: ZOOTROPOLIS RAISES THE BAR

by Paige Selby-Green

Disney’s 55th animated feature has been five years in the making, with a social commentary as relevant today as it was when the writers first put pen to paper. The film is an anthropomorphic crime caper following rabbit police officer Judy Hopps and con-man fox Nick Wilde. It’s full of laughs, but the lingering importance is in its more serious side.

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REVIEW: WOW FESTIVAL 2016, PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

I have been going to Women Of the World festival at Southbank’s Royal festival Hall for years on my own. I sometimes feel tentative about talking about women’s rights with friends and family unless I know for sure someone will be on board. This has worked well it seems, as gradually, and through being vocal online instead, more and more friends have become interested in finding out more. This was the first year that I brought a friend along one day, and a family member (Feminist Gran).

I believe I could also do something different to get more friends on board, especially those who have been curious in the past, but remained relatively untouched by my ranting. In this piece, split into two parts to accommodate the weekend events, I will review and discuss some of my personal highlights of the festival, with the intention of raising more awareness and showing what WOW is about.Continue Reading

THE FREEDOM OF A LIBRARY

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by Rowan Whiteside

All across the country, libraries are being closed. This has been happening for years: quiet reservoirs of knowledge and fantasy disappearing from villages, towns, cities. Since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, library funding has dropped by 16% and we have 549 fewer libraries.

It is difficult to really assess the impact of this. We know that visits to libraries have dropped by almost 14%, but we don’t know how many lives have been changed, how many jobs have been lost, how many children can no longer borrow something new to read. 549 libraries is an abstract figure. It sounds like a lot (because it is), but it doesn’t actually show what has been taken away. And what has been stolen is so much more than statistics can show.Continue Reading

A NARRATIVE OF SOLIDARITY: THE WORK PENALTY, JUNIOR DOCTORS AND BRITISH STEEL

by Josh Wilson

Politics is about narratives. The problem is that these narratives have a real impact on people’s lives. We are likely to have a decade of Tory rule, a decade of the systematic destruction of our welfare state and all modes of the redistribution of wealth. Corporation tax rates have reduced significantly under this government, as well as the tax rate for the richest in society. We have seen significant cuts to public spending across the board including local governments, arts and higher education. But the Tories are good at narratives. They have weaved a myth of austerity despite it going against the economic consensus. We are still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 and yet people seem to barely talk about this and be more concerned by spending levels than an out-of-control banking system.

On a majority of just 17 seats in the House of Commons the Conservatives seem confident, but I believe this confidence can be knocked using a few counter-narratives. A narrative of solidarity, one that illuminates the Tories as a party that is anti-poor, anti-worker and only on the side of the richest in our society. The three policies that are key to this narrative are the work penalty, junior doctors’ contracts and the British steel industry.

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ARE WE FALLING BEHIND AS A PROGRESSIVE CULTURE?

by Gunnar Eigener

Last week Germany announced that 62 former military bases were to be turned into wildlife sanctuaries. While these sanctuaries aren’t going to make a huge dent in the ever-increasing IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this action is in itself representative of how some countries are taking positive steps where possible. The military bases could have been sold for real estate development. France passed new legislation that all new buildings must have solar panels and/or plants on the roofs, the Dutch government have ordered emissions to be slashed by 25% within 5 years, and in 2014, Switzerland topped the Environmental Performance Index as the world leader in challenging environmental issues. The United Kingdom came 12th, but with the forth-coming expansion at Heathrow, the cutting of subsidies to onshore wind farms and the determination to press forward with fracking, is the UK at risk of dropping further down the index?

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HEY YOU! YES, YOU ABOUT TO POST ON YIK YAK ABOUT FEMSOC

by Asia Patel

Content Warning: brief mentions of harassment, rape threats, sexual harassment, menstrual blood, some examples of trolling including concern trolling (regarding body weight), mild swearing.

My name is Asia. I’m on the UUEAS Feminist Society committee for next year. I was last year too, and it’s really opened my eyes to how straight-up rude and cruel people like you can be to other people who are striving for equality. I want to get real with you, adult to adult.Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL WORKING WOMEN’S DAY — ERASING CLASS STRUGGLE FROM FEMINISM

by Robyn Banks

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.

On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.

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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

ADVOCATING THE IDEA OF A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME

by Mattie Carter.

Political debate often takes a binary form. We cast the left and right as two belligerent armies, fighting for the control of the political and economic apparatus of government and we dehumanise those who disagree or object to our values as part of an amorphous mass of evil. If you oppose aspects capitalism, then those on the right will cast you in the light of a statist, Stalinist, pseudo-intellectual and if you mention any benefits of the system then the most diehard socialists will dress you down with all the fervour of a zealous priest, preaching platitudes and quotes from Das Kapital. This is not something we should necessarily take the blame for, as much research suggests that it is a borderline insuppressible instinct, in fact I do it several times in this article, but I open with this because I’m about to attempt to defend believers in the global free market economy.

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