By Bradley Allsop
Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.
By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
Students’ Unions are meant to defend students’ rights, fighting with and for them during their time at university and beyond. However, modern SUs are often dominated by corporate thinking, consumer culture and cosy collusion with university management. Radical, grassroots democracy is often muted or discouraged, channelled instead into more temperate, gradual and piecemeal avenues by Unions centralised in their functioning and timid in their approach.
By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this new series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
Politics is in a very different place than a few years ago. Radical change feels possible, tangible, close. The Labour Party’s pledge to scrap tuition fees is one of many signs of this – welcome, and necessary to salvage higher education from the marketised juggernaut it has become. But just abolishing fees is not enough to fix all of higher education’s problems.
by Bradley Allsop
Over the last 8 years, higher education in the UK has been subject to some of the largest and most invasive reforms in its history, guided by a deliberate, neoliberal project with the aim of crafting a marketised sector. This has set a new bar for invasive reforms that is now extending into the murky realms of the ‘free speech’ debate, with recently departed universities minister Jo Johnson proposing the illogical and frankly dangerous step of imposing fines on universities whose students’ unions fail to support free speech on campus.
by Alice Thomson
The term “minority group” invokes the image of a very small percentage of people. When I was a teacher, I had a minority group in my classroom consisting of a small number of children who needed different support and teaching methods to the rest of the class. In an ideal world, every child’s individual needs would have been met, but this was not the case. Time, resources, space – these resources affect the treatment of minority groups on a much larger national scale as well. The ‘majority’ have their needs met, while smaller groups who don’t fit into the majority box are often left behind, mistreated, or ignored.
by Carmina Masoliver
CW: discussion of domestic violence
An eight episode series, Las Chicas del Cable (The Cable Girls) begins with a woman killing her friend’s husband – part self-defence, part accident – also shooting her friend. It’s a drama full of love stories, as well as crime and mystery, yet domestic violence is a major theme that runs through the series. Set in 1928 in Madrid, it shows the impossibility of leaving an abusive relationship in a patriarchal society, where even the law protects men who are abusers.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener and Rowan Gavin
CW: mentions misogyny, anti-feminism, neo-nazism
Earlier this month, a writer and an editor from the Radical took part in the Amiel & Melburn Trust’s annual residential seminar. The Trust’s aims are “to advance public education, learning and knowledge in all aspects of the philosophy of Marxism, the history of socialism, and the working-class movement’. This year, the topic of the seminar was ‘Politics & Culture’, and the various intertwinings and intersections thereof. What follows are thoughts and reactions about the seminar from our contributors.
by Carmina Masoliver
With the Feminist movement having become more a part of the mainstream, there is a tendency to call it a new wave. But Feminism is something that is always flowing, with plenty of grassroots activists doing work ‘to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression’ (as defined by bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, 2000). Whilst the movement’s popularity means there are films with stronger female characters, and Feminist comedians can easily be seen on Netflix, it also means that various corporations try to sell us back our politics. Continue Reading
by Richard Worth
If you have read my work here at The Norwich Radical and elsewhere (shameless self-promotion, I know) it should be apparent that I enjoy satire. And as reality subtly blends in a dystopian crap-scape, one of the very few plus sides is that the satire game is booming. In addition to the plethora of late night hosts to match personal preference (Colbert does it for me) keeping us informed and helping us to laugh instead of cry, the humble illustration has been holding a mirror up to the corrupt, the cruel, and the incompetent and making them look ridiculous, and they know it.Continue Reading
by Alex Powell
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
I can’t be the only one growing a little exhausted with all these elections, right? Nonetheless, tired as we are, it has never been more important that we all get out and vote. In the local elections we saw something of a decimation of left leaning parties, to the benefit of the Tories. What’s more, those elections featured some astoundingly low turnout figures, many below 30%. As a result of this, I feel it is incumbent on me to encourage anyone reading this to ensure that they get out and vote in the general election on June 8th.
by Alex Powell
Recent years, have seen a spate of referenda within students’ unions on whether they should continue their affiliation to NUS. One of the union’s most prominent critics, Tom Harwood, is running for NUS president this year. With all this going on, I feel like it’s a good time to throw my hat into the ring.
By Lewis Martin
Imagine a mature student.
I’m guessing many of you are picturing someone middle aged, married with two to three grown up children, who can now afford to go back to university to get the career change they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get when they were growing up. This stereotypical view of mature students has a detrimental effect on the Mature Student community.
by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
Since moving into my own place in the beautiful city of Córdoba, I’ve realised how important the aesthetics of our environment are to our well-being. Both inside and outside of the home, I feel uplifted, and can meditate on the simple pleasures of my surroundings. So for many Spanish people, the news that street names are being changed is a lot bigger than it might seem on the surface.
Franco’s dictatorship is an all-too-present memory, which I learnt more about when speaking to my abuelito, my paternal grandfather, about it. It divided the family, and although a majority of Spain looks back on this time with regret and sadness, there are some who still support his legacy. At such times where we are becoming more divided, and dominant groups increasingly scapegoat, discriminate against, and oppress minorities, perhaps this is an important message from a government which is currently in disorder.Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
It feels like the international landscape of politics is readying itself for some massive shift, in the geological, tectonic plate sense. We’ve had the rightwing rising across European countries, from Hungary to France, via the UK and Austria, to name a few. We have the constant shitshow that is the US presidential election campaign. We have the war stages of Syria, Lybia, Iraq, with Daesh’s fluctuating relevance and interference. We have the stifling of oppositions and minorities across India, Hungary, Turkey. We could go on.
So what is Italy up to, in all this joyous mess? Italy which is, I’ll remind you, the inadvertent (except for all things geographical) front stage for the Mediterranean migration fluxes, one of the minor players in the EU’s whatever-it-is-it’s-doing-right-now, and trying so very hard to stay internationally relevant — as it has been strenuously doing for the past however many years.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis
Last weekend, the Green Party crowned its new leader, at its largest conference to date. The result came as no surprise to anybody – Caroline Lucas and her Co-Leader running mate Jonathan Bartley were elected with an overwhelming mandate, scooping up a phenomenal 86% of the vote. Given that the result was largely a foregone conclusion at the point that candidates were announced, and that the election would naturally get swallowed by the much larger, more adversarial battle in the Labour Party, this was a subdued, uninspiring election.
In spite of that, the Green Party and their leadership are unique, fascinating and impressive in a whole range of ways. Here are five of them.Continue Reading
by Jess Howard
Earlier this month, Warner Bros and DC released their latest superhero film Suicide Squad, sending mixed reactions across the internet as viewers commented on the film’s plot line and the sexualisation of squad member Harley Quinn. Audience and critics’ opinions aside, what is explicitly noticeable within the film is the lack of LGBTQ+ characters, such as DC character Batwoman, for example – if Batman can make a cameo, why not her? In a world with superheroes, Killer Crocs, and witches, why are production companies still refusing to feature LGBTQ+ characters in their films?Continue Reading
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
by Jess Howard
When it comes to film remakes, many viewers are very protective of their original cinematic loves. In the same way that people react to novels being turned into films, many feel that film scripts should be left well alone, with the common opinion being that it was the original script, cast, and production that made their old favourites work so well. However, as with any form of art, films are constantly ageing, and so new perspectives are constantly being developed and incorporated.Continue Reading
by Julian Ignacio Canlas
On May 28-29th, the Black Students Conference happened in Bradford, where black student delegates across the country congregated together in the conference hall of Bradford Hotel.
We listened to BME activists and journalists discuss about their own experience of oppression, institutional racism, and the hard, arduous path that led to Malia Bouattia’s victory as the first black female president-elect of the NUS. This included renowned journalist Gary Younge, who delved upon the progression of black activism and condemned the forms of racism existing in right and leftwing media. Younge later received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
We went through rounds of motions and amendments. We voted for our new committee members, including the Black Students Officer, now Aadam Muse. Most contentiously, we debated about political blackness and its relevancy or outdatedness within the movement’s campaign structure.Continue Reading
by Paige Selby-Green
It’s not news to know that we live in a hypersexual world, where the adage ‘sex sells’ is used to excuse a lot of the overtly sensual imagery thrown at us in day-to-day life. Sex is everywhere, even in adverts for things as mundane as sandwiches. It’s this steamy atmosphere that asexuals are facing as they finally begin to attain recognition in society, and there’s a distinct sense of what an uphill struggle it is.
Asexuality’s simplest definition is the lack of sexual attraction to any and all genders. Unfortunately, most allosexuals (people who aren’t asexual, and do experience sexual attraction) tend to get all amused and patronising when the words “I’m not interested in sex” are spoken in their vicinity. This is further exacerbated by the fact that this simplest definition is typically for the benefit of allosexuals, and does little to explain just how complex asexuality is.Continue Reading
by Julian Canlas
(Writer’s note: I specifically wrote this article focusing on East and South-East Asian portrayals. Despite being in the same continent, I do think that South Asian and Western Asian representations in media differ vastly from those of East and South-East Asians.)
There’s no doubt: East and South-East Asians in mainstream media can’t exist without being reduced into racist caricatures. Asians, including me, cannot exist beyond the characterisation of our slant eyes, buckteeth, and thick accent. We are good at maths, martial arts, and being meek. We are not artists, but tech geniuses. We cannot be main characters, only sidekicks. Only comic reliefs, either sexless nerds or docile sex fetishes, and ladyboys. Because if we do, we turn white.Continue Reading
by Paige Selby-Green
It’s not just the Netflix account that has parental controls. Life itself comes riddled with rules about what’s appropriate for children. Considering how important childhood is to the person they will grow up to be, it’s understandable that we want to shield them from any negative influences. It’s unfortunate then that this well-meaning idea of childhood censorship also includes queerness as being among topics that are ‘too adult’ for children to know about. This censorship of queerness hurts more than it helps, leading to lots of confused teens and twenty-somethings who are still figuring out their identities thanks to childhoods where the only kind of relationships they were exposed to were heterosexual ones.
by Matilda Carter
This week Bernie Sanders made his full transformation from democratic figleaf for Hillary Clinton’s inevitable candidacy to serious contender, if still the underdog. In a mirroring of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the Labour leadership, Sanders has swept away the idea of socialism as a dirty word amongst the party faithful and has exposed the lack of ideas and vision from the compromising, centrist party leadership. Much like Corbyn’s rise to power, however, it is notable that millenials have voted in their droves for an old white man to be their saviour.
So far Clinton has refrained from playing the gender card, though many of her supporters have failed to, but this defeat in New Hampshire will open the floodgates. Clinton was always supposed to be the first female President in the minds of the Democratic leadership and they are going to do all they can to remind Bernie’s supporters of the opportunity they will lose over the coming months.Continue Reading
Content warning: nudity
by Jess Howard
Owing to a particularly traumatic experience with a bottle of hair removal cream, I recently started thinking about body hair. For years fashion photographs have been telling us that men and women alike should trim, wax, shave, and pluck in order to look beautiful and presentable. This opinion is reflected in the visual arts of today, with models seldom seen with body hair and advertising campaigns even choosing to show women shaving a hair free leg, to prevent the ultimate taboo of showing body hair in the ad itself. Today it seems body hair is off the menu, but how does this compare to artistic examples throughout history?Continue Reading
by Jess Howard
The Kardashian/Jenner family are rarely far from the press. From Caitlyn Jenner’s sensational Vanity Fair cover early this year, to the recent birth of Saint West, they are seldom out of the news. Recently, it has been model and the youngest of the Kardashian sisters, Kylie Jenner, who has been in the limelight.
Causing controversy by taking part in a photoshoot in which she posed passive and sexually in a gold wheelchair, Jenner’s photoshoot, directed by photographer Steven Klein, and accompanying interview, were part of a feature in Interview magazine, and it is explicitly clear why the internet has reacted in such a passionate and infuriated way. Continue Reading
by Emmanuel Agu
To be forthcoming; yes- living and working conditions for black people have reached some atrocious lows in Obama’s two terms as president: the worst black unemployment rate in 28 years was recorded at was 16.8 in March 2011; 28 percent of all African Americans were living in poverty in 2013, and two out of five African American children lived in relative poverty – the most harrowing statistic of all: a $131,000 disparity between the average income of the white household and the African American.
Perhaps the biggest paradox of all is a Black President coexisting with the Black Lives Matter movement independent of the government. Statistics like these really do not encourage much faith in Obama and his ability as a ‘black president’- but again to merely look at these statistics without considering the economic climate Obama was thrust into would be a misrepresentative and reductive analysis. The ‘Great Recession’ in 2008-13 is widely understood to be caused by a deregulation of wall street during Bush’s Administration and was characterised by fiscal austerity, collapsing of housing markets due to irresponsible lending from the banking sector which (amongst many other contributory factors), could perhaps be lead us to reason these effects on the black community.Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
Star Wars. One of the biggest franchises not only in its field, but spanning a multimedia galaxy, has now become even larger after being acquired by Disney. Ranging from books to comics, toys to videogames, music to clothing, costumes, and theme parks. Drawing in accolades, from die-hard fans to casual viewers, from across the world. Star Wars. One of the most impactful, politically muddled, and bizarrely misguided products – and symbols – of Western media.
It was inevitable. As a self-professed nerd, casual toy collector, avid comics-reader, in the presence of one of the biggest releases in cinematographic history about to hit screens worldwide, I could not not dedicate an article to Star Wars. As a Norwich Radical writer, on the other, I also cannot not recognise the immense (infinite?) power and sway the franchise holds, in popular and consumer culture. Just how much of it is really looking forward, and how much is stuck in A Long Time Ago..? Continue Reading
By Josiah Mortimer
It’s now three months since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party. For Greens, it’s posed some interesting questions.
For a start, Greens didn’t really know how to respond to the new political context. The party positioned itself as the left party for so long (and rightly), but few had thought about what might happen if the Labour Party actually turned left. Suddenly, the political space for the Greens appeared to shrink dramatically. And for a while, there was silence.Continue Reading
by Emmanuel Agu
More so than ever before with our current Conservative government- UK politics has always been something I’ve personally felt very distanced from. Those who occupy positions of power that govern the direction our nation is heading in are often far richer than I, public/grammar school educated, significantly whiter and straighter than I could ever hope to be – I’ve accepted that fact a long time ago, and it’s not something I see changing in near future.
Don’t misunderstand me though, I will never and apply the often far-reaching and misdirected scope of white liberalism (see Caroline Crampton and Louise Mensch twitter feeds) and contend privileged members of parliament can never hold the interests of the oppressed at heart in their campaigns and motions- effective representation is far more than a skin deep observation.
by Jess Howard
Earlier on this month, Playboy magazine announced that their publication will no longer be featuring nudity as of March 2016. Citing the rise of easy access to internet pornography, the company has decided to pull their famous images from the publication in a bid to reconcile their disintegrating readership with their increasing online audience, which went nudity free at the end of last year.
Playboy made a name for itself during the 1950s, when sex and nudity where far less mainstream and far more taboo. Having previously worked for Esquire, after leaving due to a financial disagreement (when he was denied a raise of $5) founder Hugh Hefner set up the publication from his home in Chicago, Illinois. Unsure as to whether or not the publication would thrive, the first magazine was undated in case a second issue was not produced. Having purchased a nude image of film star Marilyn Monroe, taken before she had found success in the entertainment industry, Hefner placed it on the cover. As we now know, the magazine was to be a huge success.
by Carmina Masoliver
I have recently come across a lot of backlash against the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, including this article from The Guardian. Whilst I’ve read arguments that Sport England would do well to challenge the massive pay gap between men and women in sports, I reject the notion that it should be in spite of this campaign, claiming that it’s not needed, that it’s patronising, or that it’s actually about sex.
The taglines on the website that sums up the campaign is that ‘fear of judgement is stopping many of us from taking part in exercise. But as thousands of women up and down the country are proving, it really doesn’t have to’; ‘It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.’