Gum 002 // Identity

Page 1

identity, n. /ʌɪˈdɛntɪti/

the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.



CONTENTS features 06 /art and our identities /racially ambiguous

culture 10 /zadie smith /a rainbow of thoughts

style 15 /editorial

politics 22 /another gender politics article

science 26 /human being/being human

creative writing 28 /1st impressions /出る杭は打たれる /to whom it may concern




Donna Salek Bessie Woodhouse André Serraino Mobo Agoro Petros Petrou Gonca Yalçin Lara Delmage Jarkko Tanninen Jessie Lindsay Tracy Duah Photographers

Petros Aronis Silvia Sani Zaynah Ahmed Marina Lovato Kati Brunk Léa Cyrielle Graphic Design

Kati Brunk

Cover Photo

Kati Brunk



Erika Koljonen

Deputy Editor


Kritika Narula Annegret Maja Fiedler Sophia Lopes Hannah Lane Arianne Crainie Claire Kennedy Louis Ratzel Reiss McInally Natalia Melenteva Erika Koljonen Rachel Shnapp

Editorial Team

Rachel Shnapp

Features Editor

Morgan Laing

Culture Editor

Emma McKie

Style Editor

Aisling Klimke

Politics Editor

Reiss McInally

Science Editor

Joanna Ashby

Creative Writing Editor

Jennifer Constable

Online Editors

Berta Kardelyte Julia Rosner

Photo Editors

Silvia Sani Kati Brunk

Copy Editor

Kritika Narula

Style Assistant

Charlotte Dean

Events Managers

Alkmini Nikopoulou Ruari MacManus

Fundraising/Workshop Coordinator

Orla Roughan

EDITOR’S NOTE The topic of identity is hardly novel, and definitely not a unique theme for a magazine. Why pick it, then?

Erika Koljonen Editor-in-Chief

The simple (and boring) answer is that we are halfway through the 2017/2018 run of the magazine, and wanted to do something that ‘shows who we are’ as a publication. A slightly more sophisticated angle – and the one that I’m going to talk about for this very reason – is that identity is a fascinating topic because it is so difficult to grasp. Knowing who you are as a person allows you to make sense of this world. Labels allow you to identify yourself in relation to other people. Somehow, who you are is deeply ingrained into your psyche and unlikely to change at will. Identity is bizarrely, paradoxically, something that you have complete and no control over. You shape the person you project: your parents shaped you. Identity is not a constant entity: gender and sexuality are fluid, and even the notion of national identity is slowly but surely disappearing in the global, internet-driven world in which we live. Why is it, then, that something so intangible and mutable is also such a constant? Unfortunately, an Editor’s Note does not provide the adequate space to start unpacking such a complex issue, so I’m going to leave you with that little philosophical nightmare. In this issue, Hannah Lane starts us off by looking at how art is both a public and private reflection of identity. In Racially Ambiguous, Annegret Maja Fiedler offers her account of life as a mixed-race woman in a society that loves categories, and Sofia Lopes explores how university has helped her to expand her own understanding of herself. Our style editorial focuses on the jewellery of Freya Alder, and we get a chance to hear what our models – Bessie, Mobo, and André – think about identity. In a joint piece, Natalia Melenteva and our politics editor Reiss McInally look at the way education impacts on gender identity and views surrounding sexual harassment. In Human Being/Being Human, our science section delves deep into what it is to be human in today’s technological age, and our creative writing contributors Claire Kennedy and Arianne Crainie offer us wonderful pieces detailing first impressions and cultural identity, respectively. Identity is complex and nuanced, and this issue of GUM doesn’t profess to provide a clear definition – indeed, what becomes apparent is that there is none. We do, however, hope you enjoy our musings on the topic, and as always: a huge thank you to everyone involved in the making of the issue.



written by Hannah Lane

art and our identities

Photo: Petros Aronis Model: Jarkko Tanninen

If our identity is shown in the way we express ourselves, then it must be inherently linked to art. Throughout history, individual and collective identities have been formed from an assortment of thoughts, desires, beliefs, visions – all of which are linked to cultural immersion in various artistic forms as well as our own personal attitudes towards art. But why is art as a representation of identity so important? A person’s identity is never a fixed entity; it is by nature changeable, and adapts to new circumstances and beliefs as that person grows. If we think of a typical child’s drawing, we imagine a colourful sketch depicting a family portrait, a pet, or some friends. The way that child defines themself in relation to their external world indicates how they view themselves; their identity. Growing older, people experiment with new forms of art, are exposed to more radical and transformative modes of expression, and discover which varieties of art they relate to the most – something they can listen to on Spotify or hang up on their wall and think: this is me. Yet, the most obvious form of art is what we choose to wear ourselves. People pick out clothes with the hope of using the particular style or colour to make a statement, whilst tattoos and body adornment are arguably the most widespread forms of art in popular culture today. The design of a tattoo itself is significant and the particular moment in a person’s life that they choose to get that tattoo reflects who they are at that moment. A clear change in the attitudes towards tattoos has taken place over the past decades; no longer markers of a non-conformist rebel, tattoos are now much more symbolic of a positive ‘my body, my choice’ philosophy. Tattoos can exist as a marker of a person’s race, gender, or position in society, and can signal membership within certain groups – the Maori, for example. Tattooing, then, can be used to express the identities of historically underrepresented and marginalised groups. Art affirms identity: it makes a person know that their feelings, desires and wishes are valid. It makes us feel as though we are looking at a reflection of ourselves. It is something that makes us queue for hours outside the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It is something that drives us to explore art galleries and museums in new cities looking for something we have read about and now wish to see in person. Art is a way a people can express their history and values collectively. I remember visiting Malawi in Africa, where art consisted predominantly of woodcarvings and ink canvas paintings, which is vastly different from the art most prevalent in Scottish culture. We can feel a personal connection to the frustration oozing in Van Gogh’s angry, vibrant brush strokes; a close affinity is felt towards Monet and his wistful, romantic interpretations of Parisian culture. I have a large print of Klimt’s The Kiss on the wall in my university bedroom; there is something about the particular expression of the couple that makes me feel wholesome and secure within myself, a certain mirroring of my own identity within the work of an artist I otherwise have no connection with. The consumption of art is a timeless and universal creative outlet. Art is something we can always relate to, and something that allows us to feel secure in identities that otherwise may be unstable, under-represented, or not yet discovered. Art, in all its forms, gives a voice to identity.


“So, what are you?” asked a stout middle-aged man next in line at a Starbucks in Berlin, as has a different stranger at a train station in Beijing, and many others. Until I was about 18 years old, I struggled to formulate a proper answer to this particular question. When I would tell them that I am German, I would usually hear a rude “No, but where are you really from?” My standard response, now, is, “My father is German, my mother is Ethnic Chinese Indonesian, and I have lived in six different countries.” This sums up my ethnicity, whilst also touching upon my cultural identity. It is a mouthful, but it keeps most quiet. I grew up feeling and looking out of place, and sometimes I still do. I wish I could have been automatically enrolled in a workshop on ethnic and cultural identity from the second I was born. Would it have solved most of my problems? I was never German or Chinese enough according to relatives, classmates, or strangers. I do not particularly resemble my parents, and I do not look related to my siblings. It felt like the only sensible answer was that I had been adopted. I learned that I occasionally have white-passing privilege, which means to some I “just” look white. I know I am treated better whenever I seem white enough - the discrimination I have faced is miniscule compared to what others face on a daily basis, and I do not want to make others feel their struggle with racial identity is less important. However, the pain I have experienced growing up due to my Asian heritage is still valid, unfair, and unnecessary. There have been


countless incidents I believe I would not have experienced if I looked like my father. These range from a friend casually asking, “Why do you have freckles when your skin is dark?” to my next-door neighbour shouting, “Go back to the rainforest you came from!” Several times, complete strangers passing by have stretched their eyes outwards to make fun of my and my sibling’s eye-shape, while making a range of xenophobic comments. By now you may be tired of me whining and constantly talking about race. Trust me, I am very tired of talking about my ethnicity and explaining it to strangers on a daily basis. While most do not mean any harm, some are astonishingly rude. I do not enjoy being impolitely told where I am from, and that I look “so exotic”. At the interview for my first ever internship at a veterinary practice, my very old-fashioned German name lead to an aggressive, “So, you are really German? Where were you born? Which one of your parents is actually German, again? What is your nationality?” These questions had nothing to do with my internship, and they made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I do not mind when people kindly ask where I am from, and are happy with what I choose to reply with. But I get this question so frequently that sometimes I simply do not want to engage in an overwhelming 30-minute conversation based on my appearance, especially when I am in the middle of serving tables, buying frozen peas, or writing my assignments. (To further exemplify my point: someone sitting next to me in the library has just asked where I am from as I write this.) So, do I know what I really am? I am a human, who identifies with different ethnicities, and consider myself a woman of colour. I know that growing up in Germany, Kuwait, Armenia, Poland, Indonesia, as well as currently living in Scotland, all contribute to the shaping of my cultural identity. I also enjoy life drawing, study marine and freshwater biology, and bake excellent focaccia. I hope I managed to describe what looking “racially ambiguous” can feel like. Realising that I am not alone with some of my struggles with my racial identity has been vital. Therefore, I highly recommend Part Asian, 100% Hapa and Mixed – Portraits of Multiracial Kids by Kip Fulbeck to those who also hear “What are you?” all the time.

written by Annegret Maja Fiedler Photo: LĂŠa Cyrielle Model: Donna Salek


Zadie Three years ago, having just finished reading Americanah (2013), I went on an internet stalking spree targeting its writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. During this mission I happened upon a YouTube video: ‘Between the Lines: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with Zadie Smith’. I didn’t even notice her at first. She, who went by the name of ‘Zadie Smith’, was clad in black; the only conspicuous element I noticed was her red headscarf. I thought she must have been part of the institution hosting the talk and reading. Yet, throughout the course of the video, the audience became ecstatic at the wit of both of the women. Who, then, was Zadie Smith? What inevitably followed was another internet stalking spree. Scrolling rapidly, shade after shade of grey YouTube thumbnails appeared to me like an epidemic, indicating that, yes, I had seen all of the videos they had to offer. In hindsight, my obsession with Smith appears to me to be at times pitifully endearing, and at others as slightly unsavoury and creepy. I could enumerate many instances when my appreciation of Smith truly was selfless, when one still stands firmly


on one’s own feet and has actual regard for the other person. However, they definitely don’t all fall into this category. The conception I had of Smith seemed to service some subconscious teenage need for validation. How fortunate it was for me that she proved singularly unfit for such a purpose - I had always suspected that she would strongly disapprove of the kind of adulation I gave to her. I found that once I removed the identity I had projected onto her, Smith actually has a lot to say. Though I still trumpet her name whenever I find a willing listener, I find myself hesitant to explain what it is that Smith is ‘all about’, especially in her novels. This comes down to both my lack of vocabulary (English not being my mother tongue), and coarseness of my sensibilities at the time I read them. I think it’s also due to the fact that even brilliant essayists like Smith have a hard time marketing their novels. Essays, by nature, give their arguments more clearly than novels. A readership gets accustomed to an essayist’s strong voice, whereas the ambiguity of novels can leave one a bit lost. At least I was.

Still, upon consideration of her novels, a theme emerges. Smith describes the characters in White Teeth (2000), where history sprawls in every nook, ‘[as indulging] the idea that what is passed on to them must endlessly repeat’. Her third novel, On Beauty (2005), considers obsessions with identity, be that racial (a black boy who feels he is not as black as he should be) or political (the clash of a liberal and a conservative). In her fourth, NW (2012), concerns of identity make room for concerns of existence. In Swing Time (2016), her latest novel, centres around a nameless narrator: ‘I wanted to write about being alive rather than performing a personality to somebody, so I just left her completely empty.’ All of Smith’s novels, according to the writer herself, are about limitations. She writes about identities, which to her are a ‘kind of prison’. Identity comes from the Latin “identidem”, a contraction of “idem et idem”, which means “the same and the same” or, more freely, “again and again”. One’s historical inheritance and

one’s skin colour will never change, will again and again be the same. One can extend this attitude of fixedness to one’s religious or political identity, too (cf. Republicans – Democrats, for many of whom, I assume, party affiliation is less a matter of approval of political agendas, but a matter of “who one is”) – the danger of forming one’s identity like that is best evidenced by the white identity-movements that are currently expanding. Smith envisions another kind of life for the narrator in Swing Time: ‘the things that make her a person are the decisions she makes’. Smith, then, is about existence, not about identity: ‘Stop worrying about your identity,’ she writes in On Beauty, ‘and concern yourself with the people you care about […]. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful… and decide what you want and need and must do.’ She goes on to say that ‘you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags’ – neither can you on the parasitic adulation of a writer. You can, however, let her awaken you to the thrilling stakes of existence. written by Louis Ratzel

Smith 11

A Rainbow of Thoughts 12

If you’d met your present self a few years ago, would you be surprised with how much you’ve changed? Only two years ago, I was in my last year of high school. My biggest concern was when the next ‘empty’ (empty house, ergo party) would be. I went to school throughout the week, and on the weekends, I would get white girl wasted. That was my lifestyle. I had pictured my fascinating life to continue as follows: I’d start at Glasgow University and become more independent. With my eighteenth birthday coming up, too, I could go out and drink as much purple rain as I wanted – what a liberty! How shocked would I have been then to meet the present me: a person who cares so little about drinking. So, what happened? You can never predict the future, so predicting how university life is going to pan out is impossible. Don’t get me wrong: it is definitely what you make of it. With endless amounts of societies and sports teams at your disposition, not to mention the countless opportunities beyond the bubble of university, the Thing you love is out there just waiting for you. This was one of the most appealing parts of university for me. However, finding that ‘Thing’ takes time and doesn’t appear out of the blue. One of the many learning curves at university is realising that with great independence comes great responsibility. This isn’t just about going to your classes or taking out the bins every week, but getting out of your comfort zone every week – discovering not merely the world, but yourself, too. Finding the things that I loved this past year and a half – like the beautiful green football field or the power of art – played a crucial part in my self-discovery. Naturally, it isn’t just about the things you love, but also the people. Similar to the way I had to ask myself what took my fancy, I had to do the same for who. This wasn’t so straightforward. University can act as a means to discover identity. Others take it as an opportunity for reinvention. In the small, deprived seaside town that I’m from, I was exposed to the same way of life day in and day out. I knew two gay people: my hilarious friend David, and a girl named Caroline, who always wore a yellow hat. A week into university, I’d met someone from every continent in the world, ten Mormons, and three gay couples. Along with being quite obsessed with Orange is the New Black and having #WomenCrushWednesdays seven days a week, I began to feel as though I was no longer completely straight. Soon enough, I came to terms with certain aspects about myself that gave me that “oh, so that’s why…well that makes sense”-moment of realisation. This discovery changed my life, but it was only the beginning. For almost the whole of first year I knew that I liked girls, too, yet I insisted on hiding it from everyone except a few of my close friends. Believe me, it took me some time to get comfortable with it. First of all, I had to accept myself for who I was – when I did, everything changed. The reality was that I would never have truly accepted myself, or become aware of who I was, until I actually experienced it. Being open about my identity, I ended up meeting the special person I previously thought only existed in my dreams. Not long ago, I was able to tell my mum, family, and friends, and although my face went bright red each time, their support made it all worth it. For the first time in my life I felt as though I knew who I was, and the privilege of no longer having to question it is incredible.

written by Sofia Lopes Photo: Silvia Sani and Kati Brunk Model: Donna Salek


/Kritika Narula


editors’ pick // books

It is usually the easiest to hate the norm, and yet clichés exist for a reason – nothing looks at the concept of human identity and human foibles like literature on Holocaust does. Even when these tales are narrated as fiction, they are replete with facts that stand for the atrocities of the time. Atrocities that shaped what would become of everyone if they survive. Maus by Art Spiegelman makes for a great recommendation. In a visually and emotionally rich rendition, it tackles the effects of war on identity, on existence, and on trivial chores. The Book Thief has the most reliable and unreliable narrator of all times ― death — and in a chilling account of how words rescue a little girl survivor so she can live on to write about all the many make-or-break moments she lived through. Even if we innocuously read these versions of the war, and swear to kindness as an act of redemption, it is clear: wars and battles shape who we are.

I somehow managed to get through J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar thinking that I and I alone had uncovered some great big secret – one that no one else, and definitely no teenager before me, had realised. As though decades of criticism (of which I was blissfully unaware at this point) hadn’t solved the riddle of the trope of a tortured artist. On the Road kick-started a beatnik phase (again, how I thought I was the only one to do this is beyond me). Catcher in the Rye I read at a friend’s cottage during a particularly warm summer, and it was here that I re-read The Bell Jar during a not-so-warm summer a year later. These books are what I like to think of as the Triad of the Artsy Teen (see: hipster) – books that make you feel intellectual because they are classics while still appealing to the misunderstood little soul you are. And I guess, in a way, this is exactly what they aim to do. /Erika Koljonen

making faces

Style and clothing remains one of the most obvious ways to express identity and selfhood, be this national, religious, as a part of a subculture – or simply aesthetic. Although it is easy to dismiss designer garms as vapid and irrelevant, it would appear that there has been a rise in designers using their shows to promote political and social causes: you don’t need to look much further than Maria Grazia Chiuri’s now-iconic ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt for Dior (taken from by the TED Talk of Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), whilst Balenciaga’s AW17 collection featured a reworking of the logo of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. In February of this year, Tom Ford announced his decision to phase out the use of fur, opting for animal by-products instead. Gucci, on the other hand, has forgone fur entirely, beginning with the SS18 collection. This reflects the increasingly socially aware society we live in – the values for which a brand stands is becoming something to consider when choosing whether to buy clothes from them, be this high end or high street. We can link the apparent novelty of politically conscious fashion to the social media age that has arguably democratised the designer collection – not by price, mind you, but it does mean that anyone with an Instagram account has instant access to the newest collections that trickle down to the high street with ever-increasing speed. With a wider audience comes a need to connect with the mood of the majority – the majority, in this case, being the woke millennial. ‘Recent’ socially conscious fashion should come as no surprise, though. If we look back in history there have been many times in which social movements have been closely linked with the clothes – some previous, albeit Euro/West-centric, examples can be found in the Punks of the 1970s or the Flappers of the 1920s. It makes sense that our identity is this connected with our clothing choices. By deciding to follow a certain trend and ignore another, we can make key statements about our beliefs (even if it’s just showing a preference for a style). Someone wearing Dior’s ‘We Should all be Feminists’ T-Shirt’s may be doing so to let others know that they believe in the shirt’s message, or maybe to signal that they indeed are happy to 15

spend £490 on overpriced t-shirts that you could probably make yourself for a tenner. Of course, most clothing choices are not done under the assumption of making a meaningful statement about our beliefs and who we really are. But even when we are just putting on an old dirty sweater, we are communicating something about ourselves to others – even if it is something as simple as having chosen comfort over style (although there is a case to be made for this level of dishevelment being the IT look of the moment). Even so, and even if slightly paradoxically considering the previous statement, much of ourselves is attached to our sartorial choices: it can say so much about what social subculture we identify with, who we admire, and what we want to associate ourselves with. Clothes can be an expression of and outlet for our individuality, or even a way in which we can conform to social expectations and conventions. In terms of the latter, it does lead one to wonder whether our choices really are an expression of us or if we are simply following suit (excuse the pun). Since identity and style are, at the end of the day, such personal things, it was tricky to decide on one direct concept or style for the shoot. There is no correct way in which to express one’s fashion identity, so we decided to keep the shoot as simple as possible. By having the models wear their own clothes and keeping the styling and makeup minimal, we aimed to keep the focus on the models as individuals – as well as allowing for Freya Alder’s jewellery to really be the at the centre of the shoot. Freya is a local designer who describes her work as ‘informal, un-pretentious and playful’. With her earrings and brooches she celebrates women of all shapes in a fun and vibrant way – we’d highly suggest checking out her other pieces on her website,, or on Instagram,


Is the notion of a set identity still relevant in 2018? I reckon for some people. That notion of a set identity comes from the way we have been programmed in the past, and through conforming to certain social constructs. I definitely think you learn way more by not putting yourself into a box or not conforming to a certain identity. For me, anyway, by not doing that, I am able to learn about myself more, and I’m more open to learn from other people as well. //Mobo


What or who was the biggest influence on your identity? I guess its clichÊ to say my parents, but it is. Especially since I am an only child, it was always just us three, a team. Also, I read a lot as a child and spent a lot of time in my own space, so I wasn’t really integrating with other people that much until I went to school. They gave me the attitude to be open and get influences from other people. //Bessie


Do you think the places you lived in have shaped your identity, and have they shaped your identity more than the place you were born in? Definitely. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in a handful of countries, and people often tell me they can’t place my accent. Long story short: I was born in the States, in New York, and I grew up in Zimbabwe. Both of my parents are half Zimbabwean – one is half Italian, and one is half Bulgarian. The majority of my childhood was spent in between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and then I moved to the UK just after high school. I did my O-Levels in England, and then moved to Scotland. I believe the more you travel the more you learn. //André



Freya Alder


Bessie Woodhouse André Serraino Mobo Agoro


Zaynah Ahmed

Style Editor

Aisling Klimke

Style Assistant Charlotte Dean

Make-up Artist Kay Felvus

Jewellery 1 x One-off Brass Nude Brooch £45.00 1 x Brass Arch Earrings £60.00 1 x Brass Bum Pin £30.00 1 x Brass Back and Front Earrings £60.00 20

editors’ pick

I tried to think of a film that truly shaped my identity, but I’m not sure that there is one film that has done that. Nor is there a book that has singlehandedly set my personality in stone. When I thought about it, the one thing that I think has had a truly tangible effect on who I am is the weather. I’ve lived most of my life in Scotland, so unsurprisingly the background of a lot of my memories is grey, heavy rain; the kind that sinks deep beneath your skin and leaves you damp. This background is painted with peach coloured skies, when the sun leaves behind it an afterglow that warms your arms, your face, making them soft. Brushed over these are the hazy summer days when you’re dusted with glittering light, like bits of sand that stick to your skin. When I really think about it, it’s the feeling of these weathers that has formed my identity more than any other singular thing. My calmness comes from the understanding of the calm after the storm. My motivation is driven by the hope of autumn leaves falling down on me, carefree and warm and everything orange, brown, gold. My identity is so tangled and knotted that, if I try to picture it in front of me, the most recurrent image I see is the varying sky. /Rachel Shnapp


another gender politics article

written by Natalia Melenteva and Reiss McInally Photos: Zaynah Ahmed Models: Petros Petrou and Gonca Yalรงin


A Brief Look at Responsibility, Education and the University of Glasgow For the majority of women, subservience is a language taught from birth. Conversely, men are taught the repressive politics of being raised as the dominant gender. Both suffer from the vulnerabilities of their assigned position: men from the anxiety of emasculation, women from a fear of exploitation. And while both of these sufferings are real, they are caused by the same illusory construct: the male ego. Tony Porter’s famed line, ‘my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman’, rings clearer than ever as we acknowledge the hundredth year of woman’s suffrage. It refers to the arbitrary social construct that genders elements of the human experience; the gender politics that raise us to equate emotion with femininity and professional ambition with masculinity, and raise us to believe that betraying these labels makes girls improper and boys unfit. Our social environment is serving as our own oppressor, yet we unwittingly perpetuate it. It is an environment that forces divisions between men and women; an environment that breeds confusion about how to respect and manage our own sexuality, never mind anyone else’s. Not only is this environment repressive, but for many, especially women, it is also dangerous. Now that the unrelenting #MeToo campaign has transcended the realm of social media and become part of our everyday discourse, we find ourselves confronted with the urgent task of addressing the issues of gender inequality, sexual harassment, and abuse. Now is the time to harness this momentum and dismantle the rigid gender politics that plague today’s society. As Britain scrambles to deal with this issue, any shred of nuanced introspection is disturbingly absent – not only amongst the general public or the country’s newspapers, but amongst our political leaders (at every level). The focus seems to be on condemning individuals. And while this has been an important factor in cultivating public awareness, the act of

addressing individual cases is an entirely facile approach to solving such a complex and systematic problem. Education stands out as the most effective vehicle for this social change – Rachel Adamson of Zero Tolerance Scotland, a charity that deals with the prevention of men’s violence against women, insists that ‘schools are a key place to tackle the primary causes of genderbased violence by equipping pupils with the knowledge they need to make healthy and informed decisions in their relationships.’ In Scotland, however, sex education is not a compulsory subject in all schools. Faith schools, which educate a fifth of pupils in Scotland, can exclude the teaching of ‘science-based sex and relationship education’. This January, the SNP were challenged by the Liberal Democrats to remedy this gross oversight – a surprisingly endearing interjection from the bad penny of politics. Unsurprisingly, however, nothing has yet come of this appeal to sanity. Regrettably, Scotland is being left behind on this issue. In March of 2017 it was announced that, in England, it will be compulsory for all children (starting from the age of four) to be taught about the value of safe and healthy relationships, and for age appropriate sex education to continue from that point onwards. This announcement comes with the promise that teaching guidelines will be updated to cater for the twenty-first century child – a child who is bound to face challenges such as the uncensored world of social media, cyberbullying, and easy access to online pornography. Importantly, it also promises to teach children about sexual harassment. Perhaps England’s move will encourage other countries in the United Kingdom to start recognising the flaws in today’s education. Teaching boys about puberty is one thing, but there is a lack of lessons reassuring them that it is okay for men to talk openly about their sexuality and emotions; lessons on how they can avoid developing unrealistic expectations about their own bodies; and crucially, on why they should always be respectful of another person’s body. Teaching girls solely about their


anatomy fails to inform them that they are more likely than not to face harassment, and possibly even sexual violence, at some point in their lives. It does not teach them that, like any man, they have access to a strong and valuable voice – and, like any man, the right to use it. What’s more, consent education is almost indiscriminately unavailable to secondary school students. Surely all of these issues and more must be explored before any young person leaves school; but many (if not all) of them, invariably, are not. If they were, it is likely that we would not be facing such a dire state of affairs today. According to the National Union of Students, 17% of students are sexually harassed within their first week of starting university – a sobering indictment of the national education system. However, the same survey found that two-thirds of students do not know the procedure to report these incidents, and, in this case, there is no one else to blame but universities. The University of Glasgow’s current system of preventing sexual misconduct is a bit of a mixed bag: somewhat useful, but minimal and temporary, revolving mainly around Freshers’ Week. It is no wonder then that trying to convince a first-year girl not to walk home to Murano Street at 3am, especially not alone, remains a common feature of nights out for many a Glasgow student. Something is not working. At the very least, however, the Student Representative Council (SRC) seems to be aware of this failing. VP of Student Support, Lauren McDougall, has assured GUM that the SRC have been working hard – albeit quietly, so quietly in fact, that, without getting in touch with them directly, one would think they are ignoring this issue altogether – on plans to improve the way our university deals with, and supports the victims of, sexual misconduct. They are actively exploring the possibility of several innovations to the current system, including plans for more comprehensive literature on gender violence and the possibility of introducing an online induction course for students, educating them on the key issues of safety, consent and available support services. They are discussing the possible expansion of the Let’s Talk About


Sexual Violence initiative, a workshop that deals with consent as well as bystander intervention and myths around gender violence. At the moment it is looking likely that the Let’s Talk workshops will be worked into the induction process for all students staying in University Accommodation – which plays host to a large portion of on-campus abuse. According to McDougall, the SRC are also conscious that part of this work needs to start earlier, before students arrive at university – they are currently working closely with Rape Crisis Scotland, who run a school outreach programme on sexual violence prevention. Although, in trying to change a culture, an acute social education outwith school is also necessary. Despite the empowerment of women, it remains that teaching girls to take pride in their gender still only gives them agency to fulfil their capped potential. Confidence and belief go a long way, but only to scratch the surface of what their sex continues to be perceived as. And it does very little to alter what women continue to feel to this day: unsafe. Parents should also be taking a proactive role in teaching their children about gender inequality, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. While any reluctance to do so is understandable, protecting children from ‘real world’ problems does not prepare them for what they are due to face in later life – it only perpetuates their naivety. Children and young adults alike deserve better role models in this respect. Not only celebrities on social media, but someone to actually sit down, listen and talk to them like a person – an extremely rare thing to find. There is a prime example of this at the University of Glasgow, where one would think that a human rights lawyer, one who regularly tweets about gender inequality, one who ran for Rector on the promise of more personal interaction with students, would be more committed to combatting sexual misconduct on his own campus. However, these role models – parents, teachers, politicians – are not the only ones with influence here. A less-reported-on movement has been making waves on social media: #HowIWillChange, by which men expressed

UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW SUPPORT The University Counselling Service has specially trained staff and all survivors needing mental health support will be prioritised. Anyone in crisis will be seen that day.

their understanding, promising to show initiative in better educating themselves on ways to help women feel safer. These small changes can make a real difference in developing a society of mutual respect. Openly communicating with each other – talking to your girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, brother, your parents, your friends, and asking them to share their personal experiences – is an incredibly effective way to educate yourself on gender issues. At this important time in our culture, as our country approaches a turning point on gender politics, every individual, especially if they are a man, has the responsibility to dispel their ego and to take account of their own ignorance and complacency – for which we can all be forgiven but no longer excused.

The University Crisis Team can be accessed 24hrs a day 7 days a week. Students in need of urgent support can contact them through security by calling 0141 330 4282 and asking for the Crisis Team. In less urgent situations the SRC Advice Centre can help students find the right support – all Centre staff members are fully trained in supporting students through the reporting process at the University.

SOME AVAILABLE SUPPORT OUTSIDE OF UNIVERSITY Sandyford Archway can support survivors immediately, and can take evidence without the police needing to be involved at that stage. Rape Crisis Scotland - Helpline is open every day between 6pm and midnight on 08088 01 03 02.


written by Arianne Crainie

As technologies, economies, and ecologies transform, so too must our understanding of what it is to be human.



The phrase ‘I’m only human’ is thrown around a lot. It’s possibly the best excuse for being three seasons deep on a Netflix binge during reading week. But what does it actually mean? Identity, that is human identity, has been haunting both the sciences and the arts for aeons in the form of a gargantuan floating question mark. It’s a straightforward enough question that would seem as though it could evoke a straightforward enough answer. To be human is to be intelligent and compassionate; autonomous; creative; emotional; fallible; mortal; flesh and blood. These responses, whilst easily stated, are not so easily proven. Contemporary technologies are rapidly attaining and even superseding the same aforementioned ‘human’ traits into (arguably) non-human entities. Sophia, the robot who is recognised as a Saudi citizen, has, among other attributes, career goals and family aspirations. This is not the only humanlike non human that we have and will come to know: it has been speculated that fully autonomous cars will arrive at the end of the year; and there are programmes that employ deep neural networks and algorithms, as discussed by Gabriel Nicholas in a piece for Slate. In an Artnet article, Sarah Cascone shows how networks are already synthetically creating music and art, with the results often deemed ‘more human than human’. What these examples show is that artificial intelligence is increasingly developing agency, virtuosity, and perception. These processes and progresses are arguably set apart from humans due to the language and encoding that form their bodies and minds. But what is a body if not a complex web of symbols and pathways? And so as modern technology becomes more

and more sophisticated, the boundary between human and machine becomes less distinct. While it’s true that we are wired with veins and nerves, rather than copper cables, it’s important to note that a great many of us are already cyborgs. Contact lenses, the contraceptive pill, surrogate pregnancy, gene editing, cochlear implants, and exoskeletons are all technologies created by and for humans to aid or extend life. For a huge number of people an infinite network of information lies right beneath our fingertips, a few clicks and swipes away. If you’re so inclined, you could even get an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) implant to pay for your train tickets with a swish of your palm, as reported on the BBC website by Jane Wakefield in 2014. It seems that organic matter and synthetic matter are on two parallel orbits set for a collision. As machines become more human-like, humans become more machinelike. It calls into question whether or not flesh and blood are truly viable prerequisites for humanity. If this sounds frightening, then I’ve got bad news for you. Technology is already dividing and conquering humankind. Whilst the majority of us living in the West have access to life-changing technology, the majority of the world does not. Rather, it’s more the case that the West is fuelled by the labour of the Global South, who are too often reduced to the stitching of a label or a number in the news. In other countries, already torn apart by war, indiscriminate drones reduce individual lives to numbers on pages, killing countless innocent civilians – The Bureau of Investigative journalism has a full list of statistics on the use of them in warfare. In our rush to transcend our finite flesh and blood, we must remember that not every human is even allowed to be seen as such. Black Mirror may be fascinating, terrifying or somewhere in between, but surely the real terror is not what technology is doing to humans, but what we are doing to ourselves.



Photo: Marina Lovato Model: Tracy Duah

1st Impressions

written by Claire Kennedy

Unsure what he was looking for — warmth, food, or something else, perhaps – the bedraggled young man staggered into the dining room of the Hilton Hotel, where we sat around a long table, having the conference. There were calls for “security!” The man turned to leave, when a familiar face caught his eye. “Cassie?” He called. He ran over to the table before anyone could catch him. Our eyes levelled. He stopped dead in his tracks and mouthed, “Cassie?” “No, I’m Anya,” I said. The security appeared behind the man and clenched his arms behind his back. As they shuffled him out the door, I made my excuses and followed. “You’ve seen my sister Cassie?” I demanded. “Where? Have you spoken to her? You know her?” “Yes,” he replied. Shock seized my gut, made me nauseous. “But where? How?” He explained that Cassie refused to talk about her past. He had met her on the streets and they were in a relationship, until she disappeared again. At first I thought that’s impossible. If Cassie were alive and free she would return to mum and I. Then I remembered what mum had been like back then. A drunk. Perhaps Cassie blames her. Cassie has been missing for fifteen years. I was eight and she was nine. Mum was hung-over and sent her to the shop alone. She never returned. I’m prepared to support this man in any way I can, for as long as it takes, if he will help me find my sister.

My colleagues have warned me that he may be a heartless, fraud. But hope is what keeps me alive.


Unsure what I was looking for — warmth, food, or something else, maybe – aware of my dishevelled appearance, I staggered into the dining room of the Hilton Hotel, where they sat around a long table, having a conference, of sorts. There were calls for “security!” I turned to leave, when a familiar face caught my eye. “Cassie?” I called. I ran over to the table before anyone could catch me. Our eyes levelled. I stopped dead in my tracks and mouthed, “Cassie?” “No, I’m Anya,” she said. “Cassie was my sister”. The security appeared behind me and forced my arms behind my back. As they shuffled me out the door, the woman made her excuses and followed. “You’ve seen my sister Cassie?” She demanded. “Where? Have you spoken to her? You know her?” “Yes,” I replied. Adrenaline pulsed through me, made me eager. “But where? How?” I explained that Cassie refused to talk about her past. I had met her on the streets and we were in a relationship, of sorts, until she disappeared. At first she said that’s impossible. If Cassie were alive and free she would return to her family. I cursed myself. Then I remembered how I had read that their mum was a drunk. I told her Cassie blames her mum. Cassandra, “Cassie”, Miller has been missing for fifteen years. She went to the shop alone. She never returned.

She’ll likely support me in any way she can for as long as I can play her. I recognised her from the renewed television appeal two years ago. Desperation leaves no room for a heart.



d myself through kampung fabric, catered to whiteness of my tongue and dress. but e in silence i will float invisible— quility, transcending the borders of my body, i thread myself through kampung fabric, catered to for the whiteness of my tongue and dress. but i return to where i came from. reopen if i pace in silence i will float invisible— sal human wounds. i feel the salt reserved in tranquility, transcending the borders of my body, few and not the many. a sizzling pain. unpause. before i return to where i came from. reopen

written by Arianne Crainie

universal human wounds. i feel the salt reserved for the few and not the many. a sizzling pain. unpause. tersesat.

tersesat. tell myself that language is a door and home. but still; i can’t bear the i try to tell myself that language is a door and ce. what is the difference? not a home. but still; i can’t bear the distance. what is the difference? en that white man and my gran, who between that white man and my gran, who red stripes onto my back, coined red stripes onto my back, ding to buy my falsity? pretending to buy my falsity?


tangan kosong. tangan kosong.



written by Erika Koljonen

To Whom It “Will you please pay attention to me when I’m talking?” “Huh? Oh, shit, sorry. James just sent me a message – hold on – I need to respond to this. Will be riiiight with you.” Holly mumbled, staring at her phone, fingers tapping. Rolling her eyes, Amy picked up her flat white and leaned back in her chair. The café was busy and a queue wound through the sporadically placed tables. A mix of leisure and rush. The steady hum of speech expanded through the room, pushing against the walls and almost – almost – out on to the street, to the outside world. The wall behind the till, covered with that chalkboard paint you can write on, advertised multiple brewing options for multiple origins of coffee – with barista recommendations, of course. A man pushed past behind Holly – her eyes lay locked on her phone, mouth spread into a smile. “Holly. Seriously. What’s so important?” Amy’s voice was sharp and her mouth turned upwards – the effect was forced, wry. There was no change in the blankness of her eyes. “Sorry, just a minute, we’re trying to figure out dinner.” “… it’s barely even noon.” Holly shot her an apologetic smile, and returned to her typing. Amy picked up her phone with a sigh and began to scroll through, eyes blankly grazing over her Facebook feed. Why is she even here she clearly has absolutely no interest in seeing me Jesus Christ she’s the one who arranged this Holly placed her phone face down next to her plate, leaning forward as the muted, intermittent buzzing made the table vibrate. “Yes. Sorry, Amy. Continue. Please.” “God, do you have to stare at me like that?” Amy said, pushing her chair back with subtle force. “Like what?” Holly leaned even further across the table, grinning as she almost knocked over her coffee (aeropress, Colombian). A small chuckle escaped from Amy’s tense mouth. “Jesus, Holly.” A small flash of something – amusement, happiness? – in her eyes. Amy’s hand reached out to steady the spilling cup. Amy sighed: “Right. So.” She searched to look at something other than her friend, systematically squeezing the tip of each finger under the table. Shit. This is too hard I can’t (I could see her focusing on a crack in the wall – pulling her eyes away from it would mean seeing Holly. Her expectant face. Everything would come tumbling out.)


May Concern: What would he say? If he were here “Take a deep breath, Amy” “She cares, Amy” “Okay. So.” Deep breath. She moved her eyes back to Holly. “Where was I?” “You were just getting started.” “I think I got a bit further along than that.” “Oh.” The olive tan of Holly’s cheeks reddened, colour creeping down towards her jaw. “Yeah.” “Sorry about that, just, you know how James gets about planning.” “Right.” Amy counted the seconds of silence with the rhythmic, chiming circling of the spoon. “So – no, you know what. Look, what exactly do you want from me, Holly?” Amy held onto her left hand with such force that her fingers began to turn red. Her eyes shot up from her lap, searching the café – (I think she knew I was watching). Holly was once again on her phone. “Look, Amy, I’ve been meaning to talk to you – eh, sorry, just a second, hold hold on, this really will only take just a second – yeah, so I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for a while now. You’ve really… I don’t know how to describe it, you know what I mean – we’re all worried about you. Ever since… you know. You seem lost. Like you don’t really know who you are anymore.” Amy turned her head towards the window. She could see her reflection blurred against the bodies of passers-by. She blinked, and sat there, in silence. (I sat in the corner of the café, stirring my own single-origin coffee, watching. Waiting. Waiting for the narrative to proceed. Waiting to hear what Amy had to say. Are you, too, wondering what she had to say? What they look like? What about me, reader, how do you picture me?)

“Amy? Are you listening to me?”

Do I look like you? Does it really matter, in the end, what any of us are? “Amy?” After all, what is any of this but words on a page? A figment of a collective imagination none of this is r e a l


34 Photo: Marina Lovato Model: Jessie Lindsay

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glasgow university magazine

issue #002 identity

spring 2018