Our Weekly Summary: 23/01/13


Here at the blog we like to roundup the best posts made on our discussion board every week because sometimes it they get buried under piles of even more great debate.

We’ll start with the story of Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge, she appeared on Question Time and said some pretty reasonable things about misconceptions surrounding immigration and the EU. As a result she was attacked on Twitter by what the mainstream media has taken to mislabelling as “trolls”. There’s  nothing wrong with debating with politicians and commentators on twitter, indeed I think that’s one of the best uses of the medium, but the abuse that Beard received was sexual and personal rather than political. She took to her blog to eloquently explain why superimposing a vagina on the image of someone’s face doesn’t constitute political discourse and lamented the fact that this treatment is so common for women in political debates. While there have been pockets of verbal support for Beard, this kind of treatment is likely here to stay. Thanks to Hattie Grünewald for bringing the debacle to the group’s attention.

Elsewhere Hannah Dunlop linked to a story on the growing outcry from authors, fans and illustrators against hyper sexualised sci-fi and fantasy book art. The story shows fantasy author Jim Hines recreating a series of spine-contorting, anatomically implausible poses from recent cover art in order to expose their sexism. Similar campaigns have sprung up across the net from The Hawk Eye Initiative to my personal favourite, Escher Girls.

Victoria Finan linked to an interesting article about the struggle against sexism and lad culture on Sussex University’s campus. The article cites one student council member saying :

“If men can’t get a grab of women or grope of women in a nightclub then they’re more likely to go on to rape. If they can’t release their frustrations by groping women then it will increase the chances of aggression and rape”

As our own Rachel Knott pointed out, the fallacy that this person “clearly doesn’t see groping as aggressive behaviour in the first place.”

Thanks for everyone’s contributions this week, I hope to see you at this Thursday’s meeting on Language and Feminism in Arts 2.03.


Ollie Balaam

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