About the Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster
ello! I should introduce myself.
I’m Nick Havergal and I am the co-runner of the SWW DTP Gender and Sexuality Cluster for this academic year alongside Charlotte Walmsley. Though my own interests are at the intersection between performance studies and masculinity studies, I am informed and inspired by voices and perspectives from across the whole gamut of gender and sexuality research. As such, it is an absolute pleasure to welcome you to this exciting third issue of the cluster magazine. As I write, Charlotte and I (alongside Sina Stuhlert) are putting the finishing touches on the third annual cluster conference, following the success of last year’s Gendered Voices. Taking place at Cardiff University, this year our theme is Gender at a Crossroads. The day will be guided by two key provocations: firstly, how do social or cultural moments of uncertainty or crisis construct gender and control sexualities, both in our time and throughout history? And secondly, how do we as the next generation of researchers in gender and sexuality studies negotiate a polarised and precarious world when undertaking or disseminating research? Amidst the ongoing tensions around gendered politics, histories and bodies, it feels appropriate to find synergy between these conversations and the increasingly unpredictable future for postgraduates and early career researchers (as I’m sure many of you might relate to!) Welcoming speakers from universities and institutions as far afield as the University of Aberdeen, topics covered at the conference include feminist resistance to austerity politics in Britain, bisexual and transgender women’s online activism in Russia, reproductive health in Bangladesh and the figure of the female terrorist in the Basque Country. We are really proud to continue the cluster’s legacy of embracing perspectives from across all academic disciplines and, of course, from across a range of cultural perspectives. In the meantime, we are always willing to hear from fellow researchers and potential collaborators. If you have any ideas for an event you would like to see us run, a reading you’re itching to talk about, or would just like to be kept in the loop about future cluster activities, please drop us an email at genderandsexualitycluster@ gmail.com . All the very best - and enjoy the issue! Nick
Celebrating the Centenary - Amy and Beth from the Gendered Voices team
Contents About Gendered Voices
Contributors p. 3 Editorial p. 5 Editor’s Picks p. 6
University of Southampton Gender and Sexuality Forum p. University of Reading Gender and Sexuality Seminar Series p. Calls for Papers p. Question p.
Our Voices The Invisible Individual: A Black Woman’s Perspective p. 7 Envisioning my Future, I think I will need a dozen arms and legs p. 9 Khamosh Pani: A Narrative of Silenced Memories and Identities p. 11
40 41 42 45
Gendered Voices Meet the Gendered Voices Team p. 46 Contact Us p. 47
Guest Creative Parting p. 13
Our Voices Saudi Women Allowed to Drive: This is not a Rumour p. Trans Performance and Representation in Musical Theatre Based Media Forms p. Choping and Changing: My View in Women in Art p. The Turning Point p. ‘Italy, it’s Time to be Civilised’ p. One Milestone at a Time: The Algerian Woman’s Fight for her Rights p. UCU Strikes 2018 p. What the Centenary Means to Me p. How Universities in the SWW DTP Consortium Celebrated International Women’s Day and the Centenary p. May ‘68 in France: A Milestone for Sexuality? p. Their Untold Stories: The Role of the ‘Outside” Researcher p. Surrogacy and the Maternal-Foetal Relationship p.
14 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 31 33 35 37
Editorial Team Maria Tomlinson: General Editor Maria is a teaching fellow in French studies at the University of Reading. She is in her fourth year of her PhD which is cosupervised between Reading and Bristol universities. Her PhD is funded by the SWWDTP. Her thesis is on the representation of female bodily experience in Algeria, France and Mauritius. Rebecca James Design Editor Rebecca is a second year SWW DTP PhD student at the University of Southampton and co-supervised at the University of Cardiff. Her research focuses on the image of the pirate in the General History of the Pyrates, using book history methodology and comparitive analysis to explore how the figure of the pirate is imagined, as well as examining the figure in relation to contemporaries like the highwayman and the privateer. Beth Rebisz Copy Editor Beth is a first year SWW DTP PhD student at the Universities of Reading and Exeter. Her research focuses on the humanitarian responses to the Kenyan and Zimbabwean decolonisation conflicts, specifically examining the work conducted by female welfare workers. Carla Wigg Copy Editor Carla Wiggs is a second-year philosophy PhD candidate at the University of Southampton. Her research project is focused on Søren Kierkegaard’s portrayal
of the existence spheres within his pseudonymous works. This project is funded by the SWW DTP. Amy Gower Content Readability Editor Amy is a first year AHRC funded PhD researcher with the University of Reading and University of Bristol. Her research explores the gendered experiences of teenage girls in English comprehensive schools, 1970-2000. She is particularly interested in the restriction and policing of the teenage female body, for example through the enforcement of school uniform. Jade Godsall Communications Jade Godsall is a 2nd year doctoral researcher and part of the SWW-DTP 2017/2018 cohort. Co-Supervised by Professor Carolyn Muessig (University of Bristol) and Professor Eddie Jones (University of Exeter), her doctoral thesis is a study on religious identity during 1300-1500 in Middle English hagiographies and sermons focusing on images of gendered divinity, the relationship between the voice and body, and Christ as a figure of imitation for both sexes.
Contributors Dr Marcia Morgan Writer Dr Marcia Morgan’s personal experience of working for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service was the catalyst for her PhD research. Marcia set up the Black Woman PhD England blog, an online tool to encourage and support women
in Higher Education. Malin Christina Wikstroem Writer Malin Christina Wikström is a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. She is currently writing a thesis on the role of the translator in literary translation. When she is not studying or working in mental health care, she can be found spinning across dance floors in her salsa heels. Meera Shirodkar Writer Meera Shirodkar is currently completing her PhD in Film from the University of Southampton. Her research explores the memories of the Partition of India in 1947, its contemporary representations and enduring relevance in Indian Cinema. She has completed her Graduation in English Literature, followed by a Masters in Audio-Visual Production. Clara Barnhurst Guest Writer Clara Barnhurst is a theatre artist, educator, blogger, support worker and barmaid that has been active in the Reading LGBTQ+ community for the past couple of years. Her work chiefly focuses on moments of her life, mental health, and feminism. You can see more of her work at patreon.com/ clarabarnhurst Hasnaa Alkhateeb Writer Hasnaa Alkhateeb is a PhD student (PhD Creative and Critical Practice) at the University of Sussex conducting a visual comparative study on women
living in gated enclaves. Her project aims to advance understanding of life in gated communities, space, and gender behaviour as well as to show what photography can do to help this understanding. John Whitney Writer John Whitney is a PhD Candidate at the University of Reading studying participatory performance games in theatrical/ performative experience. His teaching involves processes of actor training, and his previous research includes the psychobiographical analysis of gender in the life of Walt Disney. Backy Sumpter Writer Becky Sumpter graduated from my BA Hons Fine Art degree in 2017 from Hereford College of Arts. She has studied Art 6 years in total and have worked across many forms including photography, installation, painting appropriation and performance. She has presented a couple of workshops on creative collaboration and currently is focused on honing her poetry writing whilst she saves money to travel to Canada. Bogna Starczewska Writer Bogna Starczewska is a second year PhD Film Studies student attending the University of Exeter. She has a BA in Film and Television and Drama and MA in Scriptwriting. Her PhD explores Woody Allen’s movies based in Europe and their representation of European cities.
Blanche Plaquevent Writer Blanche Plaquevent is a first year PhD student in history at the University of Bristol, working on revolutionary politicisations of sexuality in France between 1945 and 1976. Sara Davies Writer Sara Davies is a 2nd year PhD student based at Cardiff University in the Law and Politics school, with supervisors at The University of Bristol’s Law school and The University of Southampton’s Philosophy department. Her current research focuses on international surrogacy arrangements that take place in India. Her general research interests include Law and Gender, Feminist Legal Theory and Women’s Rights.
by key institutions and private users. Claudia Howick Writer Claudia Howick is an undergraduate student of French and English Literature at the University of Reading. She is also an aspiring journalist.
Manami Goto Writer Manami Goto is a PhD candidate in Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. Her areas of interest include dress, material culture, and the rituals of women in the Persian Gulf. She is currently researching the female facemask and its relation to socio-cultural identity in the Persian Gulf. Tommaso Trillò Writer Tommaso Trillò is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Early Stage Researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Lodz, Poland, in the context of the GRACE Project (MSCA grant agreement #675378). His research aims at exploring European narratives on gender equality as circulated on Twitter
Welcome to the third issue of Gendered Voices!
It has been an exciting and eventful few months for the magazine and the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster. The magazine’s editorial team has received a slight makeover with new DTP students joining the team! Following the success of the Gendered Voices conference at the University of Bristol in 2017, the cluster has also been busy planning their second interdisciplinary conference on the theme of ‘Gender at a Crossroads’. This year it will be hosted at Cardiff University on Wednesday 16th May, 2018 with a brilliant collection of papers to be presented. The conference is bringing together researchers from across the academic spectrum with panels encompassing themes such as activism, health and medicine, the deconstruction of archetypes and stereotypes, and beyond the binary. Since the release of our last issue in November 2017, we have been hard at work planning and creating our third issue, Milestones. It didn’t take us long to settle on a theme for this 2018 issue as we celebrate the centenary of some women, and all men, receiving the right to vote by the UK Parliament. The theme milestones felt like a perfect fit for ourselves and our contributors to reflect on this year’s celebrations and to assess and explore a wide range of personal moments, political changes and cultural shifts which are geographically and individually diverse. The sheer breadth of research topics included in this issue represent the many ways our contributors have interpreted the theme of milestones and we are so excited to share these stories, assessments and critiques with you all. The articles range in style and in content, with personal accounts reflecting in memorable moments, to the analysis of the representation of milestones in film and theatre. The scope of topics explored in this issue are a testimony to the many changes and turning points individuals experience throughout their lives, whilst also challenging how events which have been widely perceived as milestones may not have been so for all. This issue’s guest article is situated within our creative section with Clara Barnhurst’s moving and empowering short story ‘Parting’. This reflection on identity and coming out is a welcomed piece for this issue and presents the challenges faced in personal milestones; you can find this addition on page 13. For this issue’s editorial pick, our team have collated some of their favourite books which tackle themes such as gender and sexuality. From memoirs, to cooking tips, to African literature, we hope you find some new reads to fill your bookshelves with and as ever we’d love to hear from you if you’ve found something you think we ought to have read! We’ve also been hard at work reflecting on what the centenary means to us individually and we hope this sparks engagement with our readers. You will find our contact details on the back page, so as ever, feel free to get in touch and let us know what you think about the issue!
Editors Picks: Book Recommendations Jade’s Recommendations: The Lais of Marie de France. Trans. Glyn Burgess. Marie De France’s lais were my first introduction to medieval literature. My highlights would include Bisclavret (The Werewolf), the tale of a cursed knight whose courtliness transcends boundaries, and Chaitivel (The Unfortunate One), which astutely addresses male fear and how it becomes rewritten.
Virgin Lives and Holy Deaths: Two Exemplary Biographies for Anglo-Norman Women. ed. Glen Burgess, Jocelyn Wogan-Browne. This excellent translation continues in making medieval texts accessible to the everyday reader. It includes two hagiographies: Clemence of Barking’s twelfth-century Life of St. Catherine and the anonymous Life of St. Lawrence. These two vitae offer a rich understanding of the saints and their audiences as they were written and commissioned
Editor’s Pick by women. Beth’s Recommendation: Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is an epic tale that reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu Clan. In 1750, Kintu Kidda plagues his family with a curse that will carry on for generations. Makumbi develops this story through four characters from the Kintu family dealing with themes such as gender, religion and hierarchy. In particular, Kintu excellently examines patriarchy and the burdens faced specifically by African men. Makumbi has created a brilliant piece of African literature which is exciting and enjoyable to read. Carla’s Recommendation The Gender Games by Juno Dawson. Part memoir focused on Juno Dawson’s transgender journey, part social commentary, this book is hugely accessible and enjoyable. In addition to its deep subject matter, and Juno’s insightfulness on themes such as gender, sexuality, and feminism, this book is also hilarious and extremely witty. This book was one of the first (non-academic) nonfiction books I have read for pleasure in a long time, and it has definitely inspired to read more books like this in future! Amy’s Recommendation Eat up! by Ruby Tandoh If you are overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of “clean” eating literature and diet plans, then Eat Up! by GBBO alum Ruby Tandoh is the palate cleanser you need to fall in love with food again. Tandoh’s book, whilst containing affordable and delicious recipes for those pre-payday meals, is more concerned with exploring the emotion, culture, and politics of food, as she deftly moves from a loving description of the first meal she cooked her partner Leah, to the Breakfast Club movement of the Black Panther Party, via takedowns of Nigella Lawson and Tom Kerridge. Tandoh’s personal accounts are at times raw and painful; as a survivor of an eating disorder, she shows more than just an awareness of the complexity of our relationships to food. Eat
Up! is affirming and joyous, and you’ll never take a Crème Egg for granted again. Maria’s Recommendation
Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde As someone who has written a thesis which explores the power of women’s writing to break the silence that surrounds many aspects female experience, Your Silence Will Not Protect You is the first book that comes to my mind when recommending a text which is both intersectional and feminist. Audre Lorde’s essays and poems which are brought together in this fantastic volume of her work are just as pertinent to female experience today as they were in the twentieth century. As a black and lesbian woman, Audre Lorde faced discrimination both within and outside the black community in the United States. In a country in which Donald Trump has become president, it is easy to see why we still need her work today. Judging by all the tweets I have come across citing Lorde, it is clear that her words still resonate strongly with the experience of people in the United States today who are marginalised because of their ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. I will leave you with one of Lorde’s many powerful statements from this incredible collection: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of colour remains chained”. Rebecca’s Recomendations
The Ex and The Wife by Alafair Burke The Ex and The Wife are two stand-alone books written by former prosecutor, and current law professor, Alafair Burke. Through her two female protagonists Burke explores ideas of innocence and guilt, as The Ex sees a criminal Defense attorney defend her former boyfriend on murder charges, while The Wife sees a woman deal with accusations of sexual assault levelled at her husband. Written before, but certainly relevant in the wake of #MeToo, Burke’s books are nuanced and engaging looks at what it is to be a woman dealing with accusations against men they have been intimate with. These books are ideal when you want some light, yet well researched and engaging fiction to read as a break from work.
The Invisible Individual A Black Woman’s Perspective
he author explores the nature of poetry as a tool of qualitative research for investigating human phenomena. Using an autobiographical poem to capture the emotional feelings stirred up from being black, woman and academic, the effect of racial isolation is shown. The first in her matriarchal family to go to university, and the first in her circle of friends and associates to be awarded a Doctorate, the black woman who writes this article shares her experience of being an intersectional subject within her universities. Black women are an under-represented demographic in British university literature. Recently there has been a growing concern with the challenges they face working and studying in universities.
Whilst there are more opportunities and improved experiences for black women today (compared to my parents and grandparents generation), there is still a long way to go to be fully accepted into the realms of the university hierarchy. Unfortunately, British universities are still white male dominated organisations. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) there are 350 black female professors out of a total number of 18,000 professors across the UK (black encompasses people from minority ethnic backgrounds). This means that black women make up less than 2% of the professoriate in Higher Education in the UK.1 There is clearly an under-representation of black
Dr Marcia Morgan
staff in senior positions in comparison to lower grade roles, as highlighted by the HESA figures published in January 2015, which shows that universities employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists, or porters, than as lecturers or professors.2 Being a black woman in a white male dominated organisation has not been easy. I have studied at three different universities, yet at times I am filled with a mixture of emotions and feelings, because of my outsider within position. Gender and racial inequality creates psychosocial dynamics within organisations. These dynamics come in the form of microaggressions.3 Can you imagine attending a lecture and your fellow students exclaim “you don’t act like a black person”? The negative racial stereotypes ascribed to black women,4 reproduce particular assumptions of limited competency and negative behaviours that accompany racial/gender stereotypes. These countless infractions were chipping away at my dignity, until I started to write poetry to capture these emotions and feelings. When I feel disempowered, I write poetry as my outlet to express what cannot be verbalised. Richard Furman asserts that “poetry may be thought of as the emotional microchip, in that it may serve as a compact repository for emotionally charged experiences.”5 Poetry can also clarify and magnify existence. I have written many poems
1 HESA (2016) Professors by race and gender. [Online]. Available at https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/ staff (Accessed 02/04/2018). 2 Bhopal, K., Brown, H., and Jackson, J. (2007) Academic flight: how to encourage black and minority ethnic academics to stay in UK higher education – research report, Equality Challenge Unit. [Online]. Available at http://www.ecu. ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ECU_Academic-flight-from-UK-education_RR.pdf (Accessed 31/03/2018). 3 Wing Sue, D. (2010) Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons. 4 Hill Collins, P. (1990) ‘Defining black feminist thought’, in Collins, P. (ed.) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, New York, Routledge. 5 Furman, R. (2007) Poetry and narrative as qualitative data: explorations into existential theory, Indo-Pacific Journal
as a means to express my personal ‘truth’ that has evolved through my experience and feelings about my academic environment. I will share one poem and present a short narrative reflection to contextualise the poem. The poem below – entitled ‘This is new to me’ – illustrates the tension that I, a black woman, has encountered when my multiple identities – black, woman, academic, negative racial stereotypes, alongside direct and indirect discrimination that I have confronted over the years – become blurred. The academic world is not for me, I cannot imagine how it would feel. To associate with scholars, educationalists and the elite, I wonder what it would be like. My phantasy scares me, I am confronted with fear. The threat of exclusion, criticism and isolation, Is too much for me to bear. The source of my anxiety, Was planted a long time ago, Like a mustard seed buried in under growth. The world of academia has aroused strong and mixed feelings inside. It has awakened my anxiety which was hidden deep inside my mind. And now it is attacking me from the insides. What will I do, to overcome this trial? It’s the institutions fault, I don’t belong here. I will project my anxiety and fear. I will embrace the shield passed down to me. Endurance, resistance and strength. To masquerade my tears and persevere. This poem was written at the beginning of my PhD journey. I had already spent many years studying at two universities and had completed my MSc, but yet I felt apprehensive about attending another university and completing my PhD. The poem highlights feelings of not belonging, not being good enough, and the anxiety caused by fear.
The hyper-visibility that comes with being a minority in academia may lead to over-scrutiny by our counterparts, and shows that being an academic has not protected me from gender and racial oppression, but created a unique psychosocial experience that is influenced by the intersection of race and gender. The feelings described in association to academia could easily be related to other white male dominated organisations. Race and gender are inextricably linked. Black women are members of two minority groups, but yet when we talk about black women’s experience, we tend to focus on one aspect of their social category: race or gender, as if they were separate from each other. This approach negates black women’s multiple identities. Gender and race overlaps, positioning black women on the margins of universities because they are not full members of the student or staff group. They share neither race nor gender with the dominant group – white men. They are Space Invaders; their presence disrupts the status quo and this creates racial isolation. Therefore, when black women enter universities as students and staff, they may find themselves in tormenting situations, which makes them feel as though they do not belong. To end, attending university creates unique psychosocial experiences for black women who enter the organisation as outsiders within, because of the intersection of race and gender. My PhD research confirmed that black women share a unique experience that is premised on gender and racial inequality, which is different to their white female counterparts and black men, known as black woman standpoint. My aim in writing this article was to use poetry to present my experience as a black woman academic. In doing so, I have provided a glimpse into the private and public life of a black female academic, to highlight the fact that black women as a group tend to be rendered invisible in university literature.
of Phenomenology, vol. 7 no. 1, pp. 1-9.
Envisioning my future, I think I will need a dozen arms and legs
Malin Christina Wikstroem
big personal milestone in many academicsâ€™ careers is that of creating a family. The idea of balancing teaching, research, conferences, and paper writing with sleepless nights and breastfeeding can be overwhelming. To reach this dilemma to start with, one needs to have completed several degrees and secured a job in academia. Whilst working my way through my studies, society helpfully reminds me that my biological clock is ticking, and that the window of opportunity for creating a family will reduce by the year. As a PhD student I am anxiously thinking about the future I hope to have in academia. Today there are countless debates about gender and equality which leads me to question: how will reaching this milestone be different for me as a woman? At different stages of your childhood and young adulthood, your parents and teachers will start talking about planning the future and what you want to do with your life. As time starts speeding up, you cut down on the amount of hobbies you can fit into your spare time, and you need to narrow the options down to a specific career you can work towards. Perhaps you want to be a dentist, or a chef, or even an astronaut. You can be anything if you set your mind to it, as my mother lovingly told me. Yet the rules do not seem to be the same for women and men. I realised that the time frame for potential success would be different for me as a woman, accounting for the gaps in my career created by pregnancies and child rearing. Among the many comments I received in those years that would shape my life as a young adult, some pieces of advice stood out and still echo in my brain:
Our Voices ‘Keep in mind that it will be very hard to go back to studying if you take a break.’ When I started studying at university I became terrified of making mistakes, choosing the wrong direction or failing a course, as it would add another year to my studies and minimise the chance of me completing my education in time. Taking a break to create a family and returning to studies at a later point would not be an option. ‘Once you have kids, it will be impossible to focus on studies, as you will have your hands full and likely be sleep deprived.’ I realised it would not be possible to combine the studies with a family life, and that I would have to complete my studies without having any children to care for. I would be waking up at all times of night, and I would never be able to find the time and space to focus entirely on my research. ‘It will be hard to get employed right after your studies as people might assume you will want to start a family.’ Even after you have completed your degree, you should not be contemplating creating a family for a while. Every time I applied for a job or talked to a supervisor, I became hyper aware of the topic and made sure to drop into the conversation that I couldn’t imagine settling down for many years yet. As soon as I started university, I decided that I would have to finish my studies as soon as possible before time could run away from me and the opportunities would disappear. I would have to complete my degrees, get hired and work for a few years before having children. Then hopefully not be away from my job for too long raising those children, as that would make it more difficult for me to return to academia. Although the reality might be different, I truthfully believed that to succeed I would have to sign up for a sprint rather than a marathon. Fast forward a few years into my life as a PhD student, and I am starting to spot the flaws in the system. Through a fantastic online support network for female academics, I get a sneak peek
at my possible future – if I am lucky enough to both achieve an academic career and create a family. The women tell stories of being criticised by their families and friends for prioritising ‘work over their families’, and their husbands are praised for ‘helping out with the children’ when the women have work obligations they cannot miss. Fathers would also have to make the difficult decision to leave their children to attend a conference abroad, but it seems more socially accepted to assume the mother will stay behind with the children. I get the impression that they get criticised more harshly – both by men and woman – for leaving their children temporarily in the name of academia. Combining parenthood with an academic career seems like an immense challenge, but more so for women, as they are expected to be the primary carers in the home. This pressure adds to the already existing stress and pressure of completing a university degree – for all genders – in hopes of achieving an academic career. Women are writing conference abstracts and entire theses while their infants are napping. As a step on the road to equality, there needs to be space created for women to have academic careers without being judged by society for sharing the parental responsibilities in the home. It can at times seem as if society wants you to pick one or the other: a family or an academic career. If you want to combine the two as a woman, you need to find an understanding husband or wife who would be willing to ‘sacrifice’ progressing in their own careers as an act of kindness and selflessness for you to pursue your dream. Ever since I became a student, this worry about the future has been at the back of my mind from the very first day I started running. I am trying to do everything and be everything; I never turn down an opportunity, whether it’s teaching, attending training, or presenting at a conference. All to satisfy that tiny voice in my head that tells me I will have to have all my ducks in a row for the day an opportunity for settling down and creating a family might present itself. Whenever a door or a window opens, I will slide a foot or an arm in, to keep the opportunity from closing on me. I am running out of arms and legs as the prospective milestone is closing in on me.
A Narrative of Silenced Memories and Identities Meera Shirodkar
his article takes an analytical look at the Pakistani film Khamosh Pani (Silent Water) as it explores the journey of a woman in the years following the cataclysmic Partition of India in 1947. It delves into the ensuing impact of traumatic Partition memories on the lives of women who survived and became part of a PostPartition world, replete with its complex sociocultural transformations.
These short scattered recurrent sequences hint at some kind of trauma she endured during the Partition. The most innocuous things seem to trigger the disturbing memories of the past that continue to haunt her even after the passage of so many years. As we slowly try to piece together Ayesha’s ordeal of the past, we see the rise of another political upheaval that begins to affect her life in the present.
“The summer of 1947 was very warm, we were children. To feel the breeze we would run a lot. Little did we know that we would keep running.”(Khamosh Pani, 2003). These are the poignant words of protagonist Ayesha, a survivor of the Partition of India in 1947. It was and still is regarded as one of the most traumatic moments in the history of the sub-continent. These words are symbolic of the struggle of Partition survivors, who were compelled to “keep running”, and forced to leave their homes, families, identities and everything they knew behind.
In the year 1979 Pakistan was grappling with the rise of religious extremist politics and the tidal wave of radicalisation of Islam was sweeping over the entire country. Soon it reached the shores of the quiet village where Ayesha and her son were residing. Unemployed and aimless young men like Salim were instantly attracted toward the inflated sense of purpose propagated by the radicalised politically motivated recruiters. The constant exposure to their viewpoints gradually steered him toward a much more regressive ideology, destroying any glimmers of religious tolerance and sensitivity. In the midst of this increasingly acrimonious atmosphere, the arrival of Sikh pilgrims from India in the village reveals the extent of the significance of Partition memories in Ayesha’s life.
Khamosh Pani (2003), directed by Sahiba Sumar, is set in a small village in Pakistan in the year 1979, a period more than thirty years after the Partition. The film brings the communal, social, personal and political consequences of Partition to the fore. It also stands as testimony to the ways in which certain moments in history intrude and completely alter the lives of individuals. The Partition was one such moment that irrevocably affected the histories, memories and identities of millions across the subcontinent. This film focuses on the life of Ayesha Khan an unassuming middle-aged widow and indulgent mother of her young son Salim. From the beginning of the film, Sumar inserts sepia toned flashbacks at regular intervals to draw attention to Ayesha’s past, which is central to the narrative.
The audience is taken back to the time of the Partition when Sikhs and any other non-Muslims residing in Pakistan were forced to move to India. Through these flashbacks, Sumra depicts how during the Partition, the most vulnerable targets of the vicious and senseless mob violence were women. Women became the unfortunate flag bearers of a family’s “honour”, respect and repute in the community. Rapes, abductions, torture were often strategically targeted at the women of a particular community in order to shame their families. During Partition, the only alternative most women and girls were given was to kill themselves
rather than risk being defiled by rioters of the other community. Ayesha, then a young teenaged Sikh girl known as Veero, was taken to the village well by her family and she was instructed to jump in by her father. However in that moment she refuses to kill herself and runs away. Things get worse for her when a group of young Muslim men take her hostage and she is raped and brutalized for being a “kafir” (a pejorative word for a non-Muslim). Her ordeal only ends when one of the young men, who having developed feelings for her, decides to rescue her. He subsequently converts her to Islam and marries her. Thus, Veero becomes Ayesha and her transformation is so complete that there is no trace left of Veero. The kindness of that young man draws her toward the teachings of Islam that propagate such compassion, empathy and humanity. After his death she starts teaching the Quran to young children of the village, which becomes an integral part her identity. However, the accidental discovery of Ayesha’s Sikh origin is incomprehensible and intolerable for the budding Muslim fanatic that Salim has now become. His brainwashing is so effective that he doesn’t even attempt to find out what she had previously experienced. His mother’s history is only a source of humiliation and embarrassment for him in front of his colleagues. He is now ashamed of her and this portrays the ordeal of the scores of women continually plagued by such antiquated patriarchal mindsets. Through Ayesha’s character, Sumar discusses the haunting impact of the Partition. She never goes to the village well like all the other women do to fetch water and has requested someone else to do it for her all these years. Salim’s insensitive attitude throws light on a feudal mindset that chooses to castigate women survivors rather than celebrate or support them. It emphasizes the misguided mantle given to women solely as the keepers of a family’s reputation and honor in a community.
see her. She reminds him that it was their father who had wanted her to kill herself in order to safeguard his honour. Her brother also shows no regard for Ayesha or who she is now and egotistically wants to take her back as Veero. Even he does not attempt to understand who she is or what she has endured. Ayesha is fighting against herself and her identity that was once Veero. Veero completely overshadows her present and the future she had envisaged; nor is her identity as Ayesha being acknowledged. The narrative gives an insight into this continued phobia that follows survivors decades after the Partition. Even for those who managed to effectively and seamlessly integrate themselves in their ‘new’ home and life, the stigma of being considered a kafir eventually alienates Ayesha from her son, friends and acquaintances. Although many in the village sympathize with Ayesha, they lack the courage to openly support her. This is partly owing to the prejudices that inherently exist among people on both sides of the border which are rarely vocalized. The film exposes the acceptance of Partition survivors as superficial, depicting how the carefully cultivated friendships and relationships cannot withstand the threats of social ostracism. Ultimately it was the tragic denunciation of her identity as Ayesha, by everyone including her beloved son, that in a way forced her to reclaim her identity as Veero. In the end Ayesha offers her last namaaz (prayer) and jumps to her death at the bottom of the well as Veero had been instructed to do all those years ago. By embracing that death she transforms herself into a victim from a survivor. Ayesha’s suicide is also her refusal to accept that the life she had made for herself after Partition is no longer hers. Through this film Sahiba Sumar succeeds in reiterating the Partition as that tragic catalyst, ominous milestone and turning point of many lives.
It was the same battle for Ayesha during the Partition and sadly after thirty years she is forced to face the same chauvinistic ideology. When circumstances bring her face to face with her brother, she rejects his emotional appeals made on behalf of their ailing father who now longs to
Parting “OK, I’ll go. I’ve checked the buses and I can go now, but would it be OK if I could stay a night on the sofa just to see if I can find somewhere?” Dark eyes looked back, lips almost parted, eyebrows raised. Shock. A breath. “You can stay here tonight. We’ll talk later.” She went back upstairs. She expected me to fight. She hadn’t ever seen me bend, and she was prepared for an argument - more than an argument. I fought her tooth and nail over most things in our relationship, but this time I didn’t. I would just go. I expected me to fight. What she was saying was ridiculous: that I could go ahead and transition in our room. I wouldn’t be allowed to be outside our room dressed properly: “Mum can’t handle you wandering around in a wig and tits” was the line. “She said what we get up to in our room is our business.” Many things raced through my head in that moment. What if I wanted a cup of tea? What if I needed the toilet? What if I wanted to talk to my family? There was no way that what they had suggested was going to work. I knew from past experience that I could strategically ignore a mandate like that and it would pass into smouldering resentment with no direct challenge made. They couldn’t stop me. Of course, they knew this too: they set a boundary, I resist it. That was our dynamic. They made a demand they knew full well wasn’t going to stand and they expected a long guerilla war over the topic. Except I didn’t engage this time. I have no real explanation for why I didn’t make my usual counter move, except this was something I just couldn’t compromise over. My identity was not negotiable; my married family was not going to have a say in my expression of that identity. But that wasn’t all of it. Hindsight tells me that I weaponized my coming out. I used it to escape the abuse, the confinement, the hurt they caused me. That wasn’t on my mind at the time: gaslighting isn’t a thing a victim
Clara Sky Barnhurst
notices until they escape it. It’s an insidious form of psychological abuse where the victim is left with happy memories and a lack of confidence in what to believe. I was harmed terribly, but I have no memory of any harmful event. In that moment of submission, I hurt my wife. It wasn’t the first time I hurt her - one doesn’t get through a twelve-year marriage without hurting each other now and again - but it was significant. She relayed the rules her parents came up with, presumably with her; they were having little conferences all day. I accepted them, but in that acceptance, I accepted the option she clearly wasn’t expecting. “OK, I’ll go.” When we were still trying to be civil, she mentioned to me how there was absolutely no hesitation in my response. I took no time to think, no consideration. I don’t remember offering an explanation, but I was thinking about how she hadn’t fought her parents with me. It happened before, but not this time. I guess we both made decisions to avoid conflict. It signalled the end of us. “I would ask you to go slow, but I know you won’t be satisfied with anything but everything.” She knew me that well, at least. What, shall we make for our excuse? Or shall we on without apology? Romeo asks Mercutio. Mercutio, quite rightly, points out that there is only ever one way forward: on without apology. I turned back to my computer as she left the room. A friend over Final Fantasy was asking me what happened. I came out to her some hours earlier, and I mentioned that I had to step away to talk to my wife. “I have to find somewhere to be. I don’t know what to do.” “OK,” Bex replied, “Are there any shelters or anything?” “I don’t know.”
Saudi Women Allowed to Drive: This is Not a Rumour
t is official. It is all over the news. From local Saudi news to the BBC. Saudi Women are granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. I did not believe it at first. I searched for the truth behind the news in Saudi and British newspapers. I read the first line in the Guardian newspaper “Women in Saudi Arabia have been granted the right to drive, overturning a cornerstone of Saudi conservatism that had been a cause célèbre for activists demanding reforms in the fundamentalist kingdom,” and smiled. I moved on to the Saudi Gazette newspaper, “In a historic decision, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Tuesday issued orders to grant driving licenses to women in the Kingdom,” and sighed in relief. It is true. Not another rumour. It is a fact. It is happening. In 1990, a year before I was born, forty-seven Saudi females got into their cars and drove around the capital city, Riyadh, to protest their right to drive. Now that right has officially been granted. Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia. Not behind hidden
walls within gated communities or gated resorts, but in public. On public Saudi streets. The fight to make this happen, the patience, the struggle finally paid off. We no longer have to depend on a male driver, on a father, a brother, or a stranger. Women can now get their own driving license and drive themselves to their destination. 2018 is the year of so many changes – starting off with women driving in the country. I’m trying to imagine myself driving in Saudi streets. It seems so surreal; I have gotten used to the backseat of my car, with the back of the driver’s head towards me. I look forward to finally getting my hands on the steering wheel, not in Egypt where I first learned how to drive, not in the United Kingdom, where I could get my license, not in any other country, but in Saudi itself. I look forward to the touch of the steering wheel, to the clear view out of the front window, to the absence of the driver’s back. I look forward to the day where I have the choice to either sit in the backseat of my car or drive my own car in the streets of Saudi Arabia. 2018 is the year of change indeed.
Trans Performance and Representation in Musical Theatre Based Media Form
his article discusses representations of Trans identity performance within contemporary musical theatre and films. It will analyse specifically the characters and the ways in which such characters are presented and represented by the actors that play them. The musicals under focus are Chicago, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and The Angry Inch. This article refers to both stage and film production in order to establish its arguments and suggest where the musical form needs to move to, in terms of LGBT+ discourse.
performer – so it brings into further question what ‘Masculinity’ is upon the current musical stage. The stage production was adapted into a film in 2003, within which – most curiously – the role of Mary Sunshine was reduced to a small bit part, nonetheless played by a cisgender female performer – Christine Baranski. This removal of even a reference to a non-cisgender or gender queer performance makes the representations of femininity and masculinity within this movie incredibly problematic through a critical lens.
The first musical that I would like to problematize is that of Chicago. Chicago is staged as a vaudeville performance upon a vaudevillian stage. One of the premises of vaudeville was female impersonation, and one of the roles within the musical is that of Mary Sunshine, which is traditionally played by a male in drag. What is interesting is that one of the big reveals of the show is the revelation of Mary Sunshine being played by a man in the scene ‘Billy Flynn’s Final Statement’, in which he states that ‘things are not always what they appear to be’ – after which Mary Sunshine is revealed to be a “man”, in vest and suspenders and then prances across the stage in a ‘strong man’ style. This is problematic for the performance of gender, as it associates ‘maleness’ with masculine attitudes, rather than observing gender as the spectrum that it is.
A second musical which problematizes representation of gender, for not only the cisgender community but the LGBT+ community as well, is that of The Rocky Horror Show. For this analysis, I am going to focus primarily upon filmed adaptations of the stage production, particularly focusing upon the role of Dr Frank N Furter. In the original film production, Tim Curry, a cisgender white performer, plays the role of Frank. Curry plays up to the manipulation of his gender role, fetishizing the sexual freedoms associated at the time with so called ‘alternative identities’ and being a ‘sweet transvestite’. The term ‘transvestite’, although a commonly used term at the time of production of this film, can have offensive connotations for those within the Trans community. It is difficult to ignore the potentially transphobic or trans-exclusionary content within this film.
The role of Mary Sunshine is however, in some selected productions, played by a female
A golden opportunity was presented by Fox, an American conservative news network, to
revolutionise this role in its 2017 remake. This opportunity appeared to have been taken, with a trans performer (Laverne Cox) being cast in this ‘transient’ role. However, the remake decided to go to the other extreme and present a hyper-sexualised overly fetishistic performance of the character of Frank N Furter. This quite possibly was a directorial decision, because of the generally conservative viewing public of the Fox Network, but it still presents an essentially transphobic message. Transness within the context of this musical is a fetish, and not the socially, personally or politically charged identity that it is. Trans identity is used for a purpose, and not to make a political comment, which could have been so easily made in the recasting of this particular musical. The final musical under critique with a trans identifying role is that of Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Hedwig as a role is complicated. Hedwig is both man and woman, they are what would now be labelled as ‘non-binary’, although when the musical was written this was not a commonly used term within LGBT+ community discussions. It is curious to me that the role of Hedwig has been performed by many different performers – but the majority have been cis-gender identifying males: John Cameron Mitchell (the author), Neil Patrick Harris, Taye Diggs and Michael C. Hall – to name only some. What is interesting the note is that of the four identified performers, only Cameron Mitchell and Harris are openly gay men. All of these performers however do not identify on the non-binary or Trans spectrum, and only embrace the ‘sexuality’ or ‘identity’ of the role of Hedwig, because of their casting in the role. Taye Diggs even went onto say in an interview with TMZ that he is embracing his ‘inner homosexual’ to play the role of Hedwig. I feel that, in contrast to the trans-exclusionary commentary made within The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the trans-masculinary commentary made within Chicago, there is a
sense of openness and appreciation within the role, and from the performers that taken on the role of Hedwig. Whilst the comments made by Diggs could be read as homophobic or ignorant of the complex issues associated with gender identity, he does display an appreciation for such queer/non-confirming gender identities. Hedwig is a role that is representative of the history of queer performance practices, and can provide an appreciation of the ways in which performance can question and defy the patriarchal rules of gender conformity. One final comment to be made about Hedwig is its casting of Lena Hall on the national tour, as a cover for the role of Hedwig (alongside her performing the role of Yitzhak for the rest of the tour). Hall is self-identified female but took on the role of this gender evading character. In fact, in an attempt to ‘remove’ the self-identified gender within the performance of Hedwig, Lena Hall wore chest binding – in order to present a more masculine form – within the shirtless ending, in the role of Hedwig. It could be argued that this shirtlessness is another form of transphobic/ trans-exclusionary presentation, it is however my conjecture that the musical and the representations found within this provide opportunity for reflection and critique which are not found in many other musical theatre productions. Hedwig defies gender, and therefore even defies the critique of gender because there is no gender there to question; anyone with the right vocal range can play Hedwig, and therefore any of us could ultimately be a Hedwig of our own. Hedwig provides an opportunity to move beyond a transexclusionary discourse and to revolutionise the musical theatre stage. There are stages to go in terms of film performance, but finally after decades of waiting, it is the turn of LGBT+ performers to play their own LGBT+ roles, and embrace (in a paraphrasing of Taye Diggs) their own ‘inner Hedwig’.
Choping and Changing:
My View on Women in Art
I have now graduated (2017) from my BA Hons Fine Art degree and have had some time to consider what I learnt on the course through lectures, self-directed research and dialogue.
omething that I feel I picked up quite early on, is that in art, women were to be looked at, to be admired as an object of beauty as opposed to being the ones who actually created work. As the Guerrilla Girls famously stated in one of their pieces “less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female” (Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? 1989) Once I had witnessed this myself across other galleries, exhibitions and in books, it began to change my thinking and my research. Unconsciously, I had been mostly researching male artists in my years of artistic studies because they were hailed as “the greats” in art history and this was something I never questioned until recently. The Picasso’s, Monet’s and Hirst’s seemed to get the lime light, whilst I found the women came secondary to them, the runners up. It wasn’t until my second year of study that I began researching artists like Louise Bourgeois, Hannah Wilke, Francesca Woodman, Ana Mendieta, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo (to name just a few) and my eyes were opened to the fact that these women had been making extraordinary work though shrouded in secrecy, hidden from full view. Why wasn’t I taught about these artists in high school art classes? Why was it more difficult to find books in the library on Ana Mendieta than on Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol? It’s these questions that made me realise that the gender inequality in the “real world” was mirrored in the art world, but that actually this platform could be used pro-actively to raise these issues in a creative way and spark discussions on why it has always been as such. After finding a deep affinity with Frida Kahlo through my own research, I felt inspired by the depth of her self-expression. There was an underlying fierceness to her creativity that was constant, her determination to express herself
genuinely with disregard to what others thought of her was something that really struck me. This kind of strength and independence being portrayed through art was fairly new to me but I felt connected in a way I never had before. Around this time I was working with film photography as my medium and was documenting people around me in a spontaneous way as well as focusing on myself. I remember one day looking in the mirror and thinking about conversations that had been directed at my appearance, particularly my hair. I had had long hair for the majority of my life, and was used to people telling me that it looked ‘nice’ that way. I’d always considered long hair as the ultimate feminine feature on women and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have short hair, I just hadn’t really seen it represented positively before. Without even considering it too much, I began chopping off my hair and getting my sister to photograph me. I didn’t care that it wasn’t shaped properly, what mattered was that I was thinking for myself and cutting away all these ideas that had been ingrained into me for so long. It scared me, but most of all it liberated me knowing that I had made this choice for myself and that I didn’t care what others thought of it. If Frida Kahlo could do it, then so could I. This act turned out to be the ultimate freedom of expression for me, I saw things differently: art, my style, and most importantly, women. Breaking through this unchallenged barrier was the beginning for me. I realised that there is so much power in simple acts and that we should be supporting one another to unleash that energy that has at many times been suppressed. This personal milestone was a turning point in my journey and made me want to seek out the women who I was never shown as a young girl. Just think, if seeing a painting of a woman cutting her hair inspired me to question my outer appearance and change it, what else could I be inspired to do if I discover how other women are liberating themselves and others?
The Turning Point
his summer will mark ten years since I have moved to the United Kingdom. Ten years of adulthood and learning how to live on my own before slowly adjusting to the unthinkable – living with someone. I still remember arriving on the seafront with my two heavy bags – hand luggage weighting possibly more than my check-in bag – and the darkness of the sea. Blue lights running along the promenade, bringing to mind Christmas lights. The struggle with the electronic key, something I would have to get used to. The difficult transition from one culture to another. Reaching adulthood was my goal ever since I was a little girl. I always loved staying up late, watching movies, dreaming of the moment when I will be older, more independent, grown up. And then finding out that this moment came along way too early, catching me off guard, foolishly believing I was an adult when in fact I was still a child. Innocent, naïve, romantic. Occasionally melancholic. Walking the promenade alone, reading poems in the castle ruins at dusk. Family was something I took for granted. They were supportive and kind, but they were also irritating and limiting on other occasions. I must have assumed that leaving my family home, town, and country would bestow on me the freedom all newly-qualified adults yearned for all their lives. Freedom to do as I please, see whoever I like, be myself. And yet there I was, crying into the payphone as setting up internet wasn’t as easy as I hoped and I couldn’t Skype my family. I felt lonely. I didn’t know anyone and other students persistently asked me whether I was a foreign exchange student. Idealized beauty of the seafront accommodation was tainted by the constant noises – arguing seagulls, sea, wind, drunk students taking a night time swim in the freezing water, their giggles – a unique combination of pure joy and horror of an ice-cold sea bath. Why did I stay abroad? Why not come back to my home country, hometown, people who speak Silesian, friends who I have known most of my life, family who believes in me no matter what? Was it the fear of admitting failure? A masochistic need to test myself? A belief that adulthood is synonymous with endurance? Or perhaps it was my natural stubbornness? I think it was mainly my love for cinema. I dreamed
of becoming a scriptwriter – a course which opened every two years at one of the prestigious Polish universities and which I imagined it would have been almost impossible to get into. Assigned seminar readings, viewings, lectures and seminar discussions – it was all fascinating, inspirational, wonderful. I loved almost every minute of that experience. People back home were forced to study a lot of nonsense they had absolutely no interest in and here I was, choosing my own modules, designing my own academic career, trying different things and toying with different job possibilities. My studies allowed me to try and define myself and what it is that I would like to do with my life. In time I also made friends – and they were so wonderful, reliable, supportive and kind that they were certainly worth the wait. They accepted me for who I was and slowly I let go of my shyness to become a loud and sociable person hosting tea parties and hanging out with Erasmus students from all over the world. As I needed to support myself, I started looking for a job. It was very difficult to find anything, and finally I managed to secure a job as a carer in a nursing home. This was a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. I worked a night shift during the week and two day shifts on weekends, hence when everyone else was excited for the weekend, I knew it just meant work and twelve-hour-long shifts. But it was a very satisfying job once I picked it up. I was happy to be able to brighten the residents’ days.
interests me and would continue to hold my interest for the next few years. Finally there was some acceptance, one from a very prestigious university I have finally chosen to study at. I also got accepted for a PGCE. I had to chose – PhD or PGCE? One road would be easier while the other was much less certain, with no guarantees of teaching experience I desired so much. I knew what I wanted to do though. Teach adults. Enjoy intellectually stimulating conversations during many seminars. I wanted to be challenged and to progress through those challenges. I chose to pursue a PhD. I was lucky enough to get some teaching experience and it made me certain that I had made the right choice. Combining teaching with research and work (I didn’t manage to obtain funding) at times is very difficult. But I am sure it is the right path for me. When I think about the future, I do worry – how will Brexit affect the number of students at British universities? Will I be lucky enough to find a full-time job once I graduate? Against all those questions are my two passions – cinema and teaching. Every good seminar convinces me I made the right choice almost ten years ago, and I keep making the same choice every week, remaining hopeful about my future. Slightly older, a little bit wiser, but still crazy about film.
Studies were great, but they also presented a struggle to some extent – my English needed constant improvement, and my shyness was something I had to get over as my studies included a fair bit of acting. I finished my BA and proceeded to study Scriptwriting as an MA student. At times I loved it. Other times I missed prose writing which was much easier, didn’t require as much action and so on… I started suspecting that something I always wanted to do might not actually be for me. Or perhaps it would be a suitable profession for me one day in the distant future. I was at crossroads after completing my Masters – what should my next step be? One thing didn’t change – my love for cinema. I decided to apply for a PhD course. The amount of applications I filled out was enormous, for universities all over the country. Applying for funding was another issue – as it turned out, humanities was a very competitive and rarely funded area. I had to deal with rejection, all the more painful because I had applied to “my” university – the one I completed my BA and MA at, in the town I still lived, where I felt at home. I had written various research proposals, trying to establish what it was that
â€˜Italy, itâ€™s time to be civilizedâ€™:
Tweeted Homonationalism in Celebration of Same-Sex Union Legislation Tommaso TrillĂ˛ In early 2016, the Italian parliament passed We can finally choose with whom the first law recognizing same-sex civil to be happy. #UnioniCivili partnerships in the country. The law has (@london_girl93, blogger, 11 May been judged as flawed on many different 2016).2 levels, and most crucially for the substantially more limited set of rights afforded to sameWe deserve to love whoever we sex couples in comparison to those granted want. Finally a small step towards in heterosexual marriages. Nonetheless, the 1 equality entering into law of â€˜Decreto CirinnĂ â€™ was (robbrooke26, Youtuber, 11 May celebrated by progressive voices across 2016). the country as a milestone in the equality legislation of a country that is known for its Words like â€˜todayâ€™, â€˜nowâ€™, â€˜finallyâ€™, â€˜afterâ€™, and conservative views over LGBTI rights. â€˜alwaysâ€™ really dominate the narrative. Figures In this piece of writing, I do not aim to analyse of speech like â€˜steps forwardâ€™ and â€˜green lightâ€™ the merits or flaws of Decreto CirinnĂ . Rather, are also very common. The overall impression I wish to offer a short comment on the is that of a collectivity celebrating the milestone language adopted by those celebrating the in terms of a now-ness that is charged with passing of the law by posting their comments positive meanings. It is happening right now. on Twitter with the hashtag #UnioniCivili It was finally time for it to happen. The country (Italian for â€˜civil unionsâ€™). These reflections are is moving, and the direction of this movement based upon my current research on tweeted (at least â€˜todayâ€™) is â€˜forwardâ€™. narratives of gender equality in Italy, and in particular on the work that a colleague and I The element of now-ness is paralleled by a are conducting on the public reaction to the wide array of references to â€˜civilizationâ€™. passing of Decreto CirinnĂ . In what follows, I Tonight Italy is a bit more civilized will point out how the collective voice of the đ&#x;Œˆđ&#x;‘Ťđ&#x;‘đ&#x;‘Ź #UnioniCivili #goodnight users tweeting at #UnioniCivili often framed (@AlicelikeAudrey, tv and radio their celebrations in terms of a â€˜step forwardâ€™ host, 11 May 2016). in the direction of â€˜civilizationâ€™ for â€˜Italyâ€™ as a whole. Finally, civilizedâ€Ś #ddlCirinna #Unionicivili While scrolling through the most popular (@LucaArgentero, actor, 11 May posts tweeted at #UnioniCivili, it is hard not 2016). to notice the frequency of time references and time-related metaphors. 1 In Italy, â€˜decreti leggeâ€™ (parliamentary acts) are commonly known to the public by the name of the MP sponsoring them; in this case, Senator Monica CirinnĂ from Partito Democratico (Democratic Party, center-left). 2 All the examples were originally in Italian. Translations are my own.
Our Voices Granted, the new form of legally recognised partnership was known to the public as ‘civil union’, so a wide array of play-on-words based on that name was only to be expected. However, the frequency of these metaphors might suggest that there is something more at play than easy to tweet text bites. After all, words like ‘civilization’ are hardly ever thrown around so easily. Civilizations usually clash. One of them usually conquers another, which gets subjugated or erased. ‘Civilization’ as a concept is indeed no joke.
It is time to introduce some concepts to interpret the above examples. In this case, I believe that the most appropriate ones are homonormativity and homonationalism. In a nutshell, homonormativity is a narrative according to which some non-heterosexual lifestyles become socially acceptable within mainstream society. Homonationalism is the appropriation of this narrative by the nationstate, that then proceed to use it as a matter of national pride and as a marker of its progressive stance towards minority rights.
Finally, a large part of the narrative spoke about ‘Italy’ as the object moving forward into Based on the above examples, it is quite easy the now-ness of civilization. to spot how the collective narrative tweeted at #UnioniCivili was powerfully infused with Eventually Italy, too, realized there is homonormativity and homonationalism. Italy a need for change. It’s a new day! as a nation-state is therein represented as a #UnioniCivili country that finally earned full membership in (@ITSMADH, pop singer, 11 May the club of those nations that, by upholding the 2016). rights of sexual minorities, can call themselves ‘civilized’. Trevi Fountain lit in rainbow. Gorgeous #UnioniCivili Whilst at first glance homonationalism might [link to picture of the Trevi Fountain not necessarily look bad, the narratives it lit with the rainbow flag] produces are rather thorny. Behind a façade (@Iperbole_, Activist, 11 May of inclusivity, these narratives might actually 2016). lend themselves to exploitation by groups that hold rather dangerously exclusive sentiments. The Colosseo gets lit up with To begin with, claims of ‘civilization’ and immensity. #LoveWins #Unionicivili ‘progress’ tend to have the hollow ring of [link to picture of the Colosseo lit colonial language. In present day Europe, with the rainbow flag] these claims usually work to exclude non(@PettyLarrieBish, Blogger, 11 May European migrants by presenting them as not 2016). ‘civilized’ enough to understand the need for the equality of sexual minorities. Of course, Interestingly, ‘Italy’ happens to be the entity this narrative works to hide the fact that many doing most of the moving, waking up, realising ‘native’ Europeans are perfectly comfortable it is time to change, becoming civilized. In with their own homophobia, and that most cases, Italy is presented as performing Europeans and migrants most probably share human-like actions. Most popularly, it is very similar positions regarding the rights of ‘waking up’. It is ‘the nation’ as a whole that sexual minorities. is presented as becoming more civilized in this new day of collective progress. The It is equally important to note that frequent reference to the ‘gorgeous’ spectacle homonationalism celebrates the right of sexual of national monuments lit in rainbow colors is minorities to live a very specific lifestyle: one no accident at all. that closely resembles that of heterosexual
Our Voices families. For many lesbian and gay couples, this is perfectly desirable, and granting them the right to do so is absolutely paramount. Regardless of how many lesbian and gay couples would like to get married, however, such a narrative works towards the exclusion of all other LGBTQ+ identities that happen to remain outside of the spectrum of what is considered ‘acceptable’.
forces were voted into marginality. Whilst I wouldn’t want to apologize for being critical towards the narratives that the public voiced in celebration of the law on same-sex unions, I am also mindful that Decreto Cirinnà will most likely be the last piece of progressive legislation coming out of the Italian parliament for a while. Attempts to scrap the law are to be expected in the near future. However imperfect, the passing of Decreto Cirinnà was As I write these comments, Italians have just indeed reason for celebration for many. Now cast their ballots to elect their parliamentary more than ever, and despite its flaws, equality representatives and a new government. A legislation needs to be defended against right-leaning anti-establishment movement the backlash of those that do not believe in and a center-right coalition fueled with equal rights and only speak the language of anti-equality sentiments emerged as the privilege, in Italy as much as anywhere else. big winners. Left-leaning and progressive
One Milestone at a Time:
The Algerian Woman’s Fight for her Rights Claudia Howick The progression of women’s rights is a frequent subject for national, political and social debate, sparking global controversy and providing momentum for the ongoing movement of feminism around the world. Less known to the Western world, however, is the plight of women in Algeria, for whom the fight for women’s rights is ceaseless, filled with revolutionary landmarks and far from linear. Following the techniques of Urban Guerrilla Warfare used during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), Algerian people – young and old, man and woman – united with one goal: independence. The role played by Algerian women in the long and determined struggle for liberation of the shackles of colonisation is undeniable. Utilising the skills that were unique to their sex, women played on that which classed them as weak and inferior in the eyes of a predominantly male government, proving their worth and inching closer to a much-
awaited equality. Often presented in films (such as The Battle of Algiers) and literature as unspoken heroes, but also silent victims, their ‘female agency’ provided them with a newfound sense of control. Women hoped that this new sense of empowerment was a foreshadow to the future of their increased rights in a newly independent Algeria. This was just the first milestone in a frustrating struggle for women’s rights following Algerian Independence in 1962, as they were subjected to numerous exasperating setbacks. The legacy of the war among women was profound, but for the wrong reasons. Algeria began to witness a gradual deterioration in women’s rights towards the end of the War of Independence. The hope women felt in the early days of independence did not last. Following the death of the second President of Algeria, Houari Boumédiène, in 1978, female citizens bore witness to a rapid decline in their rights. Nevertheless, their vital experience in the War of Independence arose in them a determination to stand up against
Our Voices forces of oppression and fight for their rights – a communal sentiment that would last decades. The fading of women’s rights was not synonymous with the attitude of female citizens across Algeria. The rigid persecution of women in social and political environments had one effect: the strengthening of female communities across the country, coming together as they had done during the War of Independence. The tyrannical regime dominating Algeria during the 1980s hurled its new laws and restrictions at its female citizens, who remained unyielding, if anything provoking the fire in them to fight harder for their deserved privileges.
they took to the streets to demonstrate against the ratification of the Family Code. Less than a month later, on the 11th of November five hundred women gathered outside the National Assembly to present the petition that had amassed more than ten thousand signatures. Nevertheless, the struggle for womankind was not over. Female war veterans and young feminists gathered together outside the post office in Algiers to reject the Family Code on the 23rd of December and to convey their feelings of complete betrayal at a government which was denying the equality for which they fought during the War of Independence.
There are many occasions of Algerian women opposing the patriarchal rule over them, each instance serving as a momentous milestone for the betterment of women’s rights across the country and illustrating women’s determination to keep fighting. In 1980, a ministerial order prohibited women from travelling unaccompanied without a male relative. Women across Algeria protested this “travel ban” to revolutionarily mark International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, causing the order to be cancelled.
This situation was not unique to the 1980s; rather than advancements in women’s rights, their condition worsened and spread to the public sphere during the ‘90s, where women were harassed, threatened and attacked by Islamists ordering the implementation of Sharia Law. But this apparent loss of hope did not conclude the battle faced by womankind, as they were the first to defend their country against Islamic terrorism and continued bravely to fight for their rights during the 1990s.
Following this, in 1981, plans for the Family Code began to come to pass in order to appeal the growing Islamic fundamentalism within Algeria. The Family Code stripped women of their autonomy by positioning them as ‘mothers of’ or ‘wives of’, rendering them as minors within the eyes of the law. However, Algerian women refused to be silenced. On the 28th of October,
Women across Algeria continue to show veneration for the pioneers of the movement to this day. Whilst the fight may not be over, Algerian women have shown that their voices will not be silenced, their actions will not be disregarded and that their goal for equality will prevail, one milestone at a time.
Image Caption: Women demonstrating in Algiers and Oran in January 1992 against the FIS election victory Courtesy Susan Slymovics and Middle East Report
What the Centenary Means to Me
his year marks one hundred years since the Representation of the People Act 1718 was signed, giving all men, and women above the age of thirty who also fulfilled certain property qualifications, the right to vote. Our editorial team reflect on what this landmark milestone in women’s rights in the United Kingdom means to them. “In 2017 I hit a kind of milestone of my own – I turned 25. I no longer tick the box 18 -24 when I fill in forms. I am no longer a member of the group that, statistically, do not take advantage of their right to vote the most of all demographics. The centenary of The Representation of the People Act has made me think a lot about the many people around the UK who, when election day rolls around, decline their opportunity to engage in the process of governance. In the year of ‘Vote 100’ I think of all the young women who decide not to vote. There are women around the world who are prevented from voting. They may live in a country where government is not decided by the ballot box, but by military power. They may live in Vatican City, which is the only place in the world that prevents any women from voting. There are places in the world where increasingly tight voter identification legislation means that women and men are denied their opportunity to have their voices heard. Many more voices are not heard through the choice of the individual, a fact I find hard to come to terms with, particularly in light of this centenary. Equal suffrage does not mean equal rights, and in many ways the fight for equality is far from over. However, fighting for these rights is no good if we don’t make the most of every opportunity to use them. We need to engage a generation who feels that politics does nothing for them. We need to help young women understand how their voices can be heard. If we do this, we may find future fighters for equality will have a smaller mountain to climb to achieve progress.” Rebecca James Design Editor “In July of last year, I attended an archival workshop on the Feminist Archive South. We were introduced to a range of material from book reviews, art show posters, interview transcripts, and personal stories regarding women’s health care and medicine. Whilst reading these questionnaires and personal accounts on women’s menstruation, menopause, and birth, we all concluded that, 40 years later, we were still having the same conversations. These experiences were still our lived experiences; these were all our voices laid out before us coming from the type and hand written accounts of women from the past. In forty years’ women’s experiences of pain and shame were still being ignored and suppressed. What the centenary of some women’s right to vote means to me is that our work is still not finished. We should not be complacent in celebration but still consider the same conversations and exchanges being retold and, in repetition of the past, the voices still not being heard today. As a teenager, I was always eager to defend my feminism, to argue my case and make sure my opinion was heard. As an adult, I recognize my voice is not alone and only paints a very small portion of the picture. I hope with this issue of Gendered Voices we are doing our part in opening new dialogues and amplifying the once silenced and unheard.” Jade Godsall Communications
Events “Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, everyone has heard the term ‘Vote 100’. ‘Vote 100’ marks 2018 as 100 years since the UK Parliament passed a law to allow the first women, and all men, the right to vote. Many have celebrated the centenary as a milestone in gender equality, however, I have struggled to cope with the tendency of many media outlets that have simply overlooked the fact that not all women were given the vote in 1918. This is not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate this achievement, but I have found Vote 100 has really made me wonder how far we’ve really progressed. The centenary, to me, means that in the course of 100 years, women in the UK have truly broken-down barriers to achieve further equality with all us ladies now being able to pop an ‘X’ in our favoured box during British elections. However, the centenary has also made me reflect on the state of gender equality on a more global scale. Britain has not cracked it, by all means we have a long way to go before my daughter or granddaughter has equal opportunities to their male peers. Though when I think about gender equality, I think about the fact that there are girls around the world who are still not receiving primary school education. There are girls around the world being forced into unwanted marriages before even having their first period. There are also girls still facing the very real reality of, as we know it to be called in the UK, female genital mutilation. So this centenary means, for me, that we need to look outside of our own countries or personal cultures, and continue to ensure that equality is a global movement which crosses gender, race, ethnicity and class.” Beth Rebisz Copy Editor “2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the right for some – although not all – women to vote. This, of course, signifies two things: firstly, that we ought to celebrate the huge step which was made towards equality all those years ago, and the steps that are still being made today; and secondly, that there is still much more to be done. As a woman that was raised in a single-parent family, and as a woman who is in a same-sex relationship, the women’s vote means a lot to me, and I am immensely grateful to the women who fought for this right all those years ago, and to those whose continue to fight relentlessly for equality. Of course, all those years ago, things would have been very different for both me and my family, thus it is of huge signifi-cance for me to have the right to vote and to have some (albeit small) say over policies which will inevitably impact me as an individual, my family, and the same-sex relationship which I have the privilege to enjoy. Having said this, it goes without saying that there is much more to be done, as globally, many women are still denied these small privileges, as well as in some cases their basic human rights. Here’s to hoping that 1918 will prove to be one milestone amongst the many that are to come in the journey towards equality.” Carla Wigg Copy Editor “As a feminist and a researcher of women’s writing, I consider the centenary of British women receiving the vote as a very significant milestone in women’s history. This moment of triumph for women in 1918 can be seen as a catalyst for many of the improvements in women’s rights in the UK that we have witnessed over the last century. However, I would like to go back to an even earlier milestone for which I am also extremely grateful. 1868 marked the graduation of the first ever women to attend a UK university. They passed their finals in a variety of subjects, including French! It is because of these women that I am here today: awaiting my viva and teaching North African literature in French to a group of enthusiastic undergraduates. When I return to the graduate school to eat my lunch, I am proud to see a room full of ambitious women who are continuing to live their lives in a similar spirit to those who won the right for us to vote one hundred years ago… Keep breaking those glass ceilings ladies!” Maria Tomlinson General Editor
Our Voices “Centenary celebrations at the University of Reading were marked by the brilliant undergraduate-led Vote 100 Forgotten Women event, at which staff and students shared the forgotten women of history who inspire them, such as Harriet Tubman and Ching Shih. The event was a resounding success, no more so than because it amplified the voices of young, politically engaged women in academia alongside their senior colleagues and lecturers, and allowed them to share their visions for the future of gender equality. For me, a researcher of teenage girls, this event highlighted the brilliance of these students, and sparked reflection on the much-maligned “youth of today”. There is a long historical legacy of the activism and political engagement of young people, from the Match Girl Strike of 1888, to the London School Strike of 1972, which saw schoolchildren take to the streets of London to protest caning and ‘headmaster dictatorships’. The centenary has come at a time when the extension of the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds is being debated in Parliament, and global change is being enacted by teenagers and young women, from Malala Yousafzai and March for Our Lives figurehead Emma Gonzales, to imprisoned Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi and Labour Party Women’s Officer Lily Madigan. Young women across the globe are demonstrating that they are agents in their own right, and like the Suffragettes, will not wait to be handed their rights by the pale stale males of the world. Let’s be under no illusions; today is still a dangerous time to be a woman, and thanks to austerity and Brexit, the rights and future security of young women in this country are in a precarious position. However, if future change-makers are anything like those mentioned above, I think we will be in great hands.” Amy Gower, Content Readability Editor
Women on Strike:
Reflections on the UCU Dispute
ebruary and March of this year saw the largest industrial dispute in the history of higher education, as members of University and College Union undertook a total of 14 days of labour withdrawal to protest changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which would see staff pensions slashed by up to half. Strikers continued to work to contract until mid-April, when, controversially, a proposal with limited concessions from USS was accepted after a union ballot. This piece will not dissect the accepted proposal and the future of the USS pension scheme; instead, we will reflect on our experiences as junior staff and as women on strike. The issue over pensions is undoubtedly gendered. Whilst in the UK women occupy approximately 46% of academic positions, only one quarter of professors are women.1 The statistics are even more shocking for representation of BAME women in the professoriate, with black women making up just 2% of professors in 2017.2 Furthermore, damning evidence of the gender pay gap in Higher Education came to light during the period of ASOS (action short of a strike, or working to contract), with women being paid an average of 13.9% less than men across the sector.3 The reasons for these disparities are complex, but a culture of overwork, which disproportionately affects those with caring responsibilities or health conditions, and the lack of support and impetus to promote and recruit women inevitably contribute. Furthermore, casual and explicit discrimination and harassment, as evidenced by the recent #TimesUpAcademia Twitterstorm, can drive women out of academia altogether. Therefore, in this context of structural inequality, it is clear that the pension crisis will harm women’s pensions much more than their male counterparts. As women, we are all too acutely aware of these inequalities, and in this piece will discuss the gendered dynamics we experienced
throughout the strike action.
Our Experiences Among the writers, we represent several different schools at a university, all in different years of doctoral research, and some are employed as teaching staff on undergraduate modules. As doctoral students, occupying the dual positions of staff and student was a difficult position to negotiate. Those of us who taught were on strike from their teaching responsibilities. However, as students, our research, writing, and reading was expected to continue, with deadlines remaining in place (as with undergraduate students). Whilst we wanted to join the strike action, we also wanted to contribute something practical and tangible. In this, we found our contributions became gendered. Despite invitations, our male peers were unwilling to join us in providing refreshments to those more permanently stationed on picket lines, leaving a group of us women to serve tea and coffee on the picket line. This was replicated at teach outs, as we organised refreshments and cleared up at the end of the day, whilst the same male colleagues who had rebuffed our invitations to help enjoyed listening to the talks, chanting, and holding signs. Whilst this gendered division of labour was wholly accidental, the practical contributions we made reinforced traditional notions of women as nurturers and providers. These same practical contributions also rendered us less visible as political actors in the strike. It was a very apparent manifestation to us of the traditional dichotomy of the political, public space as being a typically masculine environment, whilst our contributions signified the private, ‘feminine world of the home’.4 It became apparent over the weeks that this division
1 Simon Baker, ‘Data bite: share of female professors now virtually a quarter’, Times Higher Education, [website], January 19th 2018, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/data-bites/data-bite-share-female- professors-now-virtually-quarter (accessed 12/04/2018). 2 Iyiola Solanke, ‘Black Female Professors in the UK (March 2017)’, Runnymede Trust, [website], March 8th 2017, https://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/BlackFemaleProfessorsMarch2017.pdf (accessed 12/04/18). 3 Rachel Pells, ‘First gender pay gap data paints UK universities in poor light’, Times Higher Education, [website], March 22nd 2018, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/first-gender-pay-gap-data-paints- uk-universities-poor-light (accessed 12/04/2018). 4 Rachel L Einwohner, Jocelyn A Hollander and Toska Olson, ‘Engendering social movements: Cultural images and movement dynamics’, Gender and Society, 14:5, (2000), 679, 681.
Our Voices of labour was about more than just reinforcing stereotypes. To us, it seemed to also be about ego and credit, and the division between roles on a picket line which hold the most apparent value. Male colleagues led chants, handed out leaflets, engaged with teach outs and utilised resources; all these activities, whilst crucial to the action, contributed to their cultivation of a self-image based on the visibility and vocalisation of their solidarity, despite these expressions of solidarity being at least partially dependant on our invisible labour. On the picket lines, when we appeared without flasks of coffee, our status as strikers was questioned. ‘Thank you for your support’, remarked one older male placard wielder, despite our frequent appearances on picket lines and our UCU badges. Often assumed to be student supporters, we had to clarify that, we too were on strike; even when we pointed out that we were PhD students, and therefore clearly politically invested in the strike, we received condescending comments about how the ‘real’ staff members on the picket were ‘doing this for [us] too.’ Interestingly, this assumption was not made of our male counterparts, perhaps due to their visible and audible shows of solidarity. Despite union membership and forfeiting pay, we were often viewed as ‘supporters’ rather than ‘strikers’, again, a distinction not made about our male contemporaries. This observation may not reflect the experiences of others who occupied a similar space in the action. However, it did lead us to think about the gendered dimensions of the strike, particularly when our genders intersected with our junior and casualised positions. As a colleague asked one of us whether we found the masculine nature of the protest at odds with our sense of feminism, it raised the question: is there something particularly worrisome about the union strike genre of protest from a gendered perspective? The pursuit of egos occupying more visible and public roles seems to fall neatly under the banner of what we may deem a masculine approach to a political conflict of diverging agendas. Of course, everyone is liable to be driven by ego and self-image from time to time, to do so whilst waving a banner of solidarity sat uneasily with us. Whilst the strike provided opportunities for open debate and discussion, as did the teach outs, the accessibility of those discussions became increasingly unavailable as those spaces became ever more occupied by the authoritative tones of secure and senior staff
members. It is understandable that the need for political weight, garnered through the solidarity of an amplified, singular voice, can become an overpowering goal when the stakes are as high as they are. The collectivism of the strike action was mostly an overwhelmingly positive feature of the action. However, the potential this holds for stifling self-reflection can only serve to facilitate an unsatisfying outcome for those who feel they have not been heard, regardless of the overall outcome of the strike. Such self-reflection should always be embedded in an understanding of past movements. The masculine nature of protests and strikes is a longstanding critique, and simply recognising this can open the conversation up to facilitate the airing of dissatisfaction from all marginalised groups.5 When action in the name of the collective is uncritically applauded as being for the benefit of all members, the question of who is being represented risks falling back into the hands of the very institutional framework which the strike rallied against.
Department Behaviour Due to the fragmented nature of any university, the experiences within different departments during the strike is hard to assess without extensive research. However, anecdotally, the variations among ours and our peers’ experiences throughout the strike was clear. Some of our departments excelled in offering a supportive and conductive environment for striking staff members, particularly for junior level staff members, whilst others less so. Some experienced a startling absence of conversation surrounding the strike within their departments; if an open and supportive dialogue did exist, access to this dialogue for individuals in overlooked or junior positions proved unattainable. The impact of this lack of support network was heightened when junior staff were encouraged to break the strike in order to negate impact on teaching. In one case, a discreet phone call was made by a module convenor asking that the disrupted classes be covered by a casualised member of staff for significant financial reward. On reflection, it is perhaps predictable that the precarious nature of sessional employment, alongside the financially insecure situation of the PhD student, be tapped into as a useful resource
5 Rachel L Einwohner, Jocelyn A Hollander, Toska Olson and Verta Talyor, ‘Gender and Social Movements’, Gender and Society 13:1, (1999), 8.
Our Voices to mitigate the impact of the action. Questions surrounding whether we will be reemployed in the next academic year, alongside the burden of carrying out full time research alongside various casualised forms of employments, make PhD students particularly vulnerable to such requests. This heightens the internal conflict between selfinterest and collective solidarity, contributing to a sense of isolation as their place within the collective is questioned, not only by themselves but by other members of staff in their department. This seemed a common sentiment amongst many PhD students that we spoke to, particularly among PhD staff members who didn’t participate in the strike action. A lack of interest or understanding of the dispute was noticed. If teaching PhD students are treated as students, not colleagues, within their own departments, it is perhaps not surprising that their sense of solidarity with the UCU strike did not extend beyond apathy. For one of us, the sense of being a young woman was emphasised through the behaviour of the administrative staff within their department. Repeat emails were received to a staff account of one striking doctoral researcher, asking for details of their whereabouts when classes were disrupted by the strike action. Whilst framed in a language of pastoral concern, the emails contributed to the anxieties of an already apprehensive junior staff member, who feared that replying to staff emails could be used to demonstrate that they were not striking, but instead breaching their contract of employment. We are not aware that this happened to other junior or senior staff, and this seeming extension of loco parentis sharpened a sense of being categorised as a vulnerable individual. This is not to suggest that administrative and academic staff should not express welfare concerns over students and each other, but instead suggests a selectivity of these welfare concerns existed in the context of strike action.
What’s next? Regardless of these experiences, we, and other PhD students, all felt changed by the strike, and despite the unfavourable outcome of the ballot in April, we do not feel that this is the end. UCU, in its email circulated updates, reported a healthy
increase in membership, both at our local branch and nationally. With this increase, the very real pressure of future organisation amongst university staff continues to grow. More than anything, the strike had the effect of opening up the departmental rigidity of the University and facilitating crossdepartmental cooperation. Strikers at our institution included union members from languages, sciences, humanities and media, and we forged inter-departmental connections that a school-wide training day could only hope to achieve. The word ‘solidarity’ is used often and liberally, and until you are involved in a dispute such as this, it is hard to fathom. But solidarity is what we experienced. ‘We are the University’ we declared. We, those of us who still believe universities are for education, not profit, are the heart of the University; this was reinforced by loud renditions of ‘Solidarity Forever’ on the picket line. The conversations and discussions held on picket lines and in teach outs emboldened us to raise issues which before seemed like inevitable realities of life in academia. Precarity and casualisation have been concerns of the UCU for some time; at our university, a change to teaching PhD student contracts several years ago has left them with a significant pay cut and no guarantee of regular hours. As a direct result of our experiences during the UCU strike, we have felt vitalised to raise these issues and fight for fair pay within our schools. Some of the concerns we have voiced here, we also voiced at teach outs and among colleagues on picket lines and were acknowledged and listened to. Concern was also raised for the ‘nonacademic’ staff members of the university, the ‘invisible glue’ of higher education.6 Given that more women occupy support roles,7 the devaluation of administrative roles is another demonstration of the dismal of vital, but perceived ‘feminised’ forms of labour. We hope that the UCU and our senior colleagues recognise precarity and casualisation as the underlying rot in academia that we know it is, and use the fighting spirit we saw time and time again on the picket lines to fight for a better future, for us all.
6 Fiona Whelan, ‘USS strike: why aren’t more administrative staff on picket lines?’, Times Higher Education, [website], February 28th 2018, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/uss-strike-why-arent-more- administrative-staff-picket-lines (accessed 12/04/2018). 7 ‘Higher Education Staff Statistics: UK 2016/17’, HESA, [website], January 18th 2018, https://www.hesa.ac.uk/ news/18-01-2018/sfr248-higher-education-staff-statistics (accessed 12/04/2018).
How Universities in the Consortium celebrated International Womenâ€™s Day 2018 and #Vote100 University of Reading
University of Reading
Bath Spa University University of Southampton Studentâ€™s Union
University of Reading
Events University of Southampton Studentâ€™s Union
University of Southampton Studentâ€™s Union
Bath Spa University
University of Reading
University of Reading
Bath Spa University
May ‘68 in France:
A Milestone for Sexuality?
great number of movies, songs, novels set during the revolt of May-June 1968 in France put sexuality at the heart of their descriptions of the events. In Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, realeased in 2003, an unsettling love story starts in a large bourgeois flat overlooking the Boulevard-Saint-Germain where most demonstrations occurred: a sister and his brother, both university students, welcome a young American played by Michael Pitt and initiate him to new sexual practices. More generally, many cultural productions portray students having sex on occupied university corners or show couples kissing in the heart of smoke grenades during demonstrations: in short, they depict May ‘68 as a time of sexual freedom. In the collective memory, the biggest political mobilizations in the sixties in France allowed a sudden opening of potentials and gave a chance to young people to experiment their sexuality and fall in love in the midst of the turmoil. A lot of representations of May ‘68 go as far as to conceive sexuality as the central claim of students in 1968. Nowadays, at least in France, mentioning the spirit of 68 is a way to refer to a free and sexualized atmosphere. This representation overlooks the complexity as well as the diversity of the struggle, where students united with workers and when a wide range of social groups mobilized against the Gaullist society, from peasants to architects. It overlooks as well the political seriousness of radical sexual politics of the time. Sexuality is only represented as a romantic plot line for stories, or as a hedonistic way of life but it is rarely understood as an articulated political issue. It is difficult for us today to imagine that revolutionaries of the time treated sexuality as another field in which the capitalist system hindered peoples’ freedom. We see sexuality rather as a hedonistic form of protest.
If May 68 represents a milestone for sexuality in collective memory, how can we assess the depth of the changes that occurred around sexuality during this period? First, was May’68 the scene of an intensified sexuality? Despite a lot of mythical representations, it is actually difficult to find any sources proving that student had more sex during May ’68. The French historian Anne-Claire Rebreyend who studied sexual practices in France during the 20th century argues that there was probably no such liberation during the events (Rebreyend, 2008). Using activists’ autobiographies, she shows that students were more focused on traditional political goals, writing tracts and billboards, attending meetings, organizing the logistics of the strikes and occupation. In everyday practices, the new politicization of intimacy did not supplant the rigorous seriousness of activism. This historian also showed that the idea of “sexual revolution” was often used by male activists to negotiate sexual encounters with women: they argued that consenting to have sex was a way to prove your progressiveness and your political involvement. The activist Jean-Pierre Duteuil who participated to May ’68 in the deeply politicized university of Nanterre, near Paris, confirms this analysis. He writes in his testimony of 1988: “The calls for the sexual liberation are often an excuse to hit on girls, and the relationships that result from this often leave young women anxious about what can happen. No one really knows, during these festivities, who will end up with who, and, of course, boys are the game masters” (Duteuil, 1988, 50). Thus, the representation of May ’68 as a milestone for sexual liberation in collective memory seems to contrast deeply with what happened during the events. On this note, many researches
underline the limits of May ’68 in terms of inclusiveness, particularly for women, who only really put feminism and female sexuality on the table in the following years, with the creation of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (Movement for Women’s Liberation) better known as the MLF, and for homosexuals whose rare attempts to speak out in May ’68 where shut down. A group of homosexual activists, the Comité d’Action Pédérastique Révolutionnaire (Action Committee of revolutionary Homosexuals) famously put up posters of a manifesto that were immediately tore down. So where does this representation of May ’68 as oversexualized comes from if not from practices? We could make the assumption that this has been a way to downplay the importance of this political struggle, or on the contrary a way to make it appealing to audiences by depicting it as a romantic moment. We could also consider the nature itself of cultural productions as the cause of the focus on love and sexuality: they use traditional romantic plots and May ’68 could just be a set for them. However, I want to argue that the sexualized memory of May ’68 has to do with the way discussions on sexuality actually took place in May’68 and specifically how they received a lot of public attention. May’68 saw the emergence and the public display of a lot of discourses on sex. Activists and students treated sexuality as a political issue, articulating it with the other realms of political action. During May ’68, various students’ groups discussed sexuality as one of the realms of the revolution to come. These discussions were rooted in a broader range of discussions on the idea of “sexual revolution” that were gradually formulated in France since the fifties. Mostly in intellectual politicized milieus, some writers had tried to build sexuality as a legitimate political issue, opposing the moral rigorousness of party politics (for instance the French Communist Party which remained very traditional on issues related to gender and sexuality). They published books, journals, but they also exchanged a lot with students before 1968. Students in university halls were particularly receptive to their theorizations on sexuality as they were starting to challenge nonmixed halls. Then, when May ’68 started, sexuality was already discussed as a political issue.
However, more than political discussions on sex, what has been much more mediatized and publicized were the graffiti painted on the walls of the streets and of the occupied buildings. These graffiti kept on mentioning sexuality and contributed to vehiculate the idea of May’68 as a moment of sexual liberation. Some of them linked sexuality and politics as the famous slogan: “The more I make love, the more I want to make the revolution” but a lot of others just promoted sexuality and depicted the political mobilizations as an hedonistic moment: “Orgasm without constraint”, “Make love, and do it again”, “Invent new sexual perversions”, “Fuck each other otherwise you’ll get fucked”… Some of these slogans became famous as they were painted in public spaces and their provocative tone obviously stroke the viewers. They are nowadays part of the collective memory of the events, thanks to famous photographs. Representing May ’68 as a milestone for sexual liberation can thus be considered as a consequence of this massive displaying of sex on the walls during the strike. We must note as well that these slogans often depict a very specific type of sexuality, despite sometimes inviting people to pervert sexual norms. The recurrent mention of orgasm and even more the idea of “coming” as it is used refers to a male sexuality. Female sexuality is never mentioned, and this gender bias reinforces what Duteuil and Rebreyend explained about the sexual revolution being masculine. Moreover, they represent a heterosexual desire, when using the metaphor of “getting fucked” to refer to being abused by the capitalist society. The complexity of how sexuality was discussed and used in May’68 has thus been subsumed under a famous and reductive image of May’68 as a milestone for sexual liberation. References: DUTEUIL Jean-Pierre (1988), Nanterre 1965-6667-68, Vers le mouvement du 22 mars, L’Essart, France: Acratie. REBREYEND Anne-Claire (2008), Intimités amoureuses, France 1920-1975, Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail. SEIDMAN Michael (2004), The Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and workers in 1968, New York: Berghahn.
Their untold stories:
The role of the ‘outside’ researcher
he identity and social characteristics of a researcher have great influence upon the collection and analysis of data especially in qualitative research. Although the consequences of these individual variables can either be negotiated or their impact reduced by fieldworkers, identifying a researcher’s status and fundamental position helps to minimise confusion over the accuracy of collected data.1 In this article, I intend to present how my own identity—in terms of origin, gender, ethnicity, and age—plays an important role in gaining access to my respondents and presenting their stories that might otherwise not be told. I will also critically reflect on how this experience became a milestone in my academic career exploring women’s cultures and customs in the Persian Gulf. My PhD research examines the links between the socio-cultural identity of women in the Persian Gulf region and the role of the female face mask, locally called baṭūla or burquʿ by investigating two contrasting case studies—the United Arab Emirates and Qeshm Island of Iran. My first encounter with the subject was when I conducted field research for my Master’s thesis in the Gulf Arab states. Some women mentioned the traditional face mask as a disappearing regional material culture of the Persian Gulf. Wearers of this face mask are usually women over fifty to sixty and speak Arabic or Persian with local accents. Despite the fact that they are well versed in the Gulf culture and folklore, and continue to practice declining rituals and customs, their voices are neither heard nor taken into consideration in academic research both locally and internationally. Even considering different stances of methodology, probable reasons for this lack of anthropological study on women are caused by ethical and methodological obstacles for local researchers as well as foreign researchers studying the Gulf. Local researchers often face social barriers which are caused by sectarian, tribal, socioeconomic, class, and ethnic differences, and these differences
can ethically interfere in relations between researchers and respondents. This becomes more problematic when collecting personal and sensitive information, as this requires building a great sense of mutual trust. Even after collecting the data, the interpretation and analysis of that data will be examined carefully because the local researcher’s ability to be objective is always called into question. Although local researchers have deep knowledge of shared cultures and the advantage of acquired language skills, ethical considerations always arise when conducting qualitative research in such small and conservative communities. These social barriers are less of a problem for foreign researchers, but there is a significant language barrier and initial difficulties can arise in obtaining permission to interview women. In the Gulf society, having a face-to-face conversation with elderly women in particular is challenging as they are often shy or introverted, and may be reluctant to meet and talk with people outside their close kinship groups. For example, when I notified my friends or respondents that I would like to interview their grandmothers, elder aunts, or female relatives, they often assumed that elderly women would not accept such offers or not want to share their experiences. However, when I visited the women themselves and explained my interests and the purpose of my study, they were usually cooperative and happy to share their thoughts and experiences. In fact, after the interview, their daughters or granddaughters who were in attendance often told me that they had never heard some of the stories that these women shared. These kinds of experiences reconfirm my advantage as a foreign, female researcher and the unique position I am in to be able to contribute to the few existing literary sources by adding these women’s voices. Yet, I need to acknowledge the fact that I am an outsider studying a foreign culture. That is to say, I have to be careful not to fall into the “romanticism” or “tourism” trap of failing to make a critical analysis from the view
David Silverman, 2006, Interpreting Qualitative Data, London: SAGE, p.84-85.
Our Voices point of a researcher rather than as a tourist. Being neither Arab nor Persian, but holding a locally favoured identity of being Japanese, certainly guaranteed me an advantageous position during my field research. My nationality, however, was not the only factor which enabled me to integrate into the community easily. Gender and other variables of a researcher ultimately affect relationships with one’s respondents and the implementation of research.2 In my case, being a young woman—both gender and age variables— also secured me access to an unknown world behind the veil. In the Gulf states and Southern Iran, gender segregation applies to both public and private spaces. For example, in a house, guest rooms are strictly separated for women and men with an independent entrance. For men to enter the women’s sphere is culturally and religiously prohibited (although it is easier for women to enter the men’s sphere). Besides, talking to the opposite sex outside immediate family members in public is perceived as an inappropriate and shameful act, so even if a male researcher could interview a local woman, ethical concerns will always remain. Moreover, paying respect to elders is a substantial part of the Gulf (Khaleeji)3 culture, and this creates a great sense of distance between generations. Therefore, I believe being a young Japanese Arabic/Persian-speaker woman helped me create a comfortable atmosphere for respondents, especially young women. At the same time, seeing the attitude of a young foreign woman such as myself who is enthusiastic to learn about their culture and traditions inspired many elder women, and as a consequence, they were very cooperative in my research.
uncomfortable position. I was often invited to visit my friends’ families where men and women sat and ate together, and sometimes I occasionally stayed over in their houses for a few days. During the visits, women used to tell me about their marriage lives, work, studies, relationships with families in-law, children, and sometimes even about their sexual encounters or love stories before marriage which are taboo in the society. In my case, as Silverman discusses, my female gender identity secured privileged access to my research subjects.4 Also, my age reduced the formality of the research setting and environment, which turned out to be an advantage. Although there were occasional language barriers encountered during conversation, the experiences I have discussed above inspired me to study and write about women in the Gulf.
The longer I spent time with locals, the more I realised that I was receiving preferential treatment in the society. My nationality, gender, language skills, and age did play a great role, and more importantly my coming from outside the community helped them feel safe to openly talk about their lives. This would not be possible if I, myself, were Khaleeji because then people would unconsciously become aware of sectarian, socioeconomic, tribal, class, and gender barriers which might threaten or put them in an 2 Ibid. 3 ‘Khaleeji’ literally means “the Gulf” in Arabic and Persian and often refers to a collective identity of the Gulf Arab states. However, I am using the term here to refer to both sides of the Persian Gulf. 4 David Silverman, 2006, Interpreting Qualitative Data, London: SAGE, p.84.
Surrogacy and the maternalfoetal relationship
ecoming a parent is a big milestone in a person’s life. It is one that leaves your life, and in the case of the pregnant woman, your body, permanently changed. This major life event is not always straight forward, or even in some cases, entirely happy and successful, for everyone pursuing it. As well as being a deeply personal issue, infertility has become a global health concern, with fertility rates dropping in both the developed and developing world. Adoption had traditionally been the route that many couples struggling to conceive naturally would take, but with the medical advances in assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), IVF treatments and surrogacy have now become an increasingly popular means through which to bypass fertility issues. Yet, such treatments can be very costly and are not freely or even legally available in every country. In the UK, there are limits on the number of IVF cycles offered on the NHS. Surrogacy arrangements must be altruistic in nature, but they still allow for the payment of reasonable expenses. It is likely that the restrictions on these arrangements, and the criminalisation of commercial, and in some cases, all forms of surrogacy in many jurisdictions; most of Europe and the majority of US states, have led to hotspots developing and flourishing in different regions across the globe. The state of California in the US, Thailand (until recently), and India are three such places. India had become a major centre for the practice until recent interventions by the government brought an end to commercial and international arrangements. India provides a pertinent case study of this practice through its embrace of the lucrative potential of ‘reproductive tourism’, and signing of international trade agreements to establish itself as an attractive medical tourism destination.
‘First-world treatment at third-world prices’ is a slogan created by India’s tourism ministry and encapsulates the economic and political strategy of this business. Many factors converged to create the perfect environment for this practice to flourish in India. The development of low-cost high-tech industries and within this the medical advances in ARTs that created the possibility of gestational surrogacy. These technological developments are significant as ‘gestational surrogacy also allowed the surrogacy market to go global’ because it enables couples and individuals to commission children that are genetically related to them and not to the women who gestate the children. Thus, this allows the arrangements to cross national borders, and ethnic and racial lines. One of the main appeals of a surrogacy arrangement is the possibility of preserving a genetic link with the child. Before considering this practice within the global context I feel that it is necessary to understand the nature of surrogacy and how it is defined. Surrogacy is not a new concept and can be traced back to Biblical times. In Genesis (Chapter 30) Rachel, who is childless, compels her servant to procreate with her own husband Jacob in order to produce a child that she will claim as theirs. Hinduism also has its own significant depictions of surrogacy through the stories of Yashoda and Krishna and that of Vishnu, Devaki and Rohini. Surrogacy is defined as the act of substitution for another in a particular role.1 In terms of ARTs, it is further defined and subdivided into gestational surrogacy; where the fertilised egg of the genetic mother or an egg donor is implanted into the surrogate mother; and straight or ‘traditional’ surrogacy, where the egg of the surrogate mother is fertilised with either the sperm of the intended father or that of a sperm donor.2 The term ‘surrogate mother’, although often used to refer to the woman
1 Oxford English Dictionary (OED), http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/surrogate?q=surrogate+ [last accessed 9 April 2018]. 2 Taken from the definitions used in this study by the European Parliament, Director General for Internal Policies,
engaged in the surrogacy arrangement, is in many respects a value-laden and confusing phrase.3 Some commentators on surrogacy prefer the term ‘gestational mother’ or ‘birth mother’. There is also some interesting discussion surrounding the term ‘surrogate mother’ and whether it should in fact be completely rejected. Christine Overall in her paper given at the conference ‘Women’s and Mothers’ Labor: The Stakes of Surrogacy’ in March 2017, argued that it is impossible to act as a surrogate mother and that the arrangement consists of the transferal of parental rights and not the substitution of a role.4 In effect, you cannot be a ‘surrogate mother’ because you are simply ‘the mother’. This question concerning the maternal-foetal relationship in surrogacy is highly significant yet largely understudied. If we take a metaphysical approach to this relationship we can begin to develop and apply different models of pregnancy. Two models which sit at opposite ends of the spectrum are the foetal container model and the part-whole model. The foetal container model sees the foetus as a self-standing organism, that is merely surrounded by the pregnant organism. Smith and Brogaard provide the analogy of the foetus being inside the mother in the same way as ‘a tub of yogurt is inside your refrigerator.’5 This description of the relationship establishes the mother and foetus as two separate entities, where the foetus inhabits a space inside the mother and the pregnant woman forms the environment for the foetus. The foetal container model of pregnancy has long been historically and culturally dominant, and is particularly evident in our conceptualisation of surrogate pregnancy. It creates the image of the mother as a pure incubator for the foetus, which develops as an independent and continuous entity all the way from embryo to foetus to child. Kingma develops, and defends, the part-whole model of pregnancy, which proposes that ‘foetuses are a proper part of the pregnant organisms – like
hearts, kidneys, nails and hair’. This is a view also held by Karpin who proposes that ‘the woman’s body is seen as neither container nor separate entity from the fetus. Until the baby is born the foetus is the female body. It is part of her body/ self.’6 In this model the foetus and mother are therefore not two distinctly separate entities, where one is surrounded by the other, but two nonseparate entities, where one (the woman) is the whole and the other (the foetus) is one of the many parts of that whole. ‘There is no scientifically verifiable “fact” that designates woman and fetus as separate.’7 A reconceptualisation of the mother-foetus relationship when applied in the context of surrogacy could alter the way the practice is perceived. The foetal container model works to underpin certain assumptions regarding the nature of the transaction involved in surrogacy. Surrogacy is widely regarded as a ‘service’, in which the surrogate offers in exchange of money (in commercial arrangements) is the service of gestation, the act of pregnancy, the use of a body or space; the labour of providing nutrients and physical care. This view of surrogacy as a service aligns it with other forms of body work. The foetal container model also reinforces the perception of the surrogate as a mere incubator or environment, where one is as good as the other. This preserves the notion of the fungibility of the womb – any womb will do, as long as it is reasonably healthy and provides enough nutrients – and the ‘purity’ of the foetus which merely extracts nutrients from its ‘environment’, but is not in important ways shaped, formed or influenced by gestation: its ‘nature’ is determined by its, often carefully selected, genetic material alone. The part-whole model of pregnancy may prompt us to view surrogacy arrangements in a new light, and ask interesting and potentially very complicated legal questions about it, and in particularly about
Policy Department Citizen’s Rights and Constitutional Affairs, A comparative study on the regime of surrogacy in EU member states, (2013), pp.12-13. Also see Katarina Trimmings and Paul Beaumont, ‘International Surrogacy Arrangements: An Urgent need for Legal Regulation at the International Level’, (2011) vol.7 Journal of Private International Law 3, p.627 for definitions. 3 A view shared by Debra Satz. For more discussion on this see Debra Satz, ‘Markets in Women’s Reproductive Labor’, (1992) vol.21 Philosophy and Public Affairs 107, pp.107-131. 4 Christine Overall, ‘“Whose Child is This?” ‘Surrogacy’ and the Value of Procreative Labour’ a paper given at the conference ‘Women’s and Mothers’ Labor: The Stakes of Surrogacy’ at Université Grenoble Alpes on 9 March 2017. 5 Berit Brogaard and Barry Smith, ‘Sixteen Days’, (2003) Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28, p.74 6 Isabel Karpin, ‘Legislating the female body: Reproductive Technology and the Reconstructed woman’, (1992) Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 3, p.326 (emphasis in the original). 7 Isabel Karpin, ‘Legislating the female body: Reproductive Technology and the Reconstructed woman’, (1992) Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 3, p.326.
the nature of the transaction. Does the commercial surrogacy transaction resemble the selling of an organ or body part, albeit an entirely unique one? For, like hair but unlike kidneys, foetuses are ‘renewable’. But the processes and risks involved in doing so, unlike harvesting hair and like harvesting kidneys, are invasive and considerable. Or is the commercial surrogacy arrangement fundamentally a sale of babies? Certainly, although it is formally seen as a ‘service’ or ‘womb-rental’, in almost all arrangements the bulk of the fee is paid when the baby is born and relinquished – suggesting that what is sold here is indeed a product rather than a service. And does the possibility of surrogacy force us to change or reject Kingma’s argument that favours of the part-whole model?
University of Southampton Gender and Sexuality Forum FEMINISM, KNOWLEDGE CREATION, AND COMMUNITY ARCHAEOLOGY By Lauren Coughlin, PhD student at the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton
Monday, 21st May 2018, 5pm-7pm Room 65/1143, Avenue Campus Refreshments will be provided The conveners of the Gender and Sexuality Forum, Alison Daniell (a.h.daniell@soton. ac.uk) and Emily Hooke (E.Hooke@soton.ac.uk), are always pleased to receive abstracts from potential speakers for future Forum events 40
The Gender and Sexuality Research Network is now accepting abstracts for our seminar series taking place in the upcoming academic year (2018-2019). We are an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Reading which provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender, sex, sexuality and the body to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. We are keen to hear from as wide a variety of perspectives as possible, welcoming the submission of abstracts from all disciplines. As it is our aim to offer an inclusive platform covering the full spectrum of gender and sexuality beyond traditional binary constructions, we encourage the submission of abstracts addressing, amongst others, issues of femininity and feminism, LGBT+ rights, as well work conducted from masculine and nonbinary perspectives. Our regular seminar series will start the first week of October and is provisionally planned to take place during term time on Mondays from 4-5pm at the University of Reading. The format will be a one-hour session with space for a twenty-minute paper followed by a Q & A. We offer a supportive environment where researchers can present works in progress or finished pieces. If you would like to take part, please contact us at ReadingGenderSexuality@ gmail.com and include your 100-word abstract and title, name, department and preferred seminar date in the email by the end of 7th September 2018. We look forward to hearing from you! Faye Bird and Amy Gower 41
Call for Papers Research in Progress Postgraduate Conference - Histories of Gender University of Reading, Wednesday 24th October 2018 The University of Reading’s History Department Gender Research Cluster is pleased to invite proposals for our inaugural postgraduate conference, to be held at the University of Reading, on Wednesday 24th October 2018. This conference will provide the opportunity for post-graduate researchers across the country, who specialise in gender history, to showcase work-in-progress papers, and will also highlight research being conducted within the University of Reading’s History Department. The primary aim of this event is to forge cross-institutional networking opportunities for PGRs in the field of gender history and to offer presenters focused feedback on their research projects from informed discussions with participants. This is why there will be an emphasis on work-in-progress papers, and no registration fees for attendees. The Keynote speaker for 2018 will be our own Dr Heike Schmidt, author of Shaming men, performing power: female authority in Zimbabwe and Tanzania on the eve of colonial rule, who will open the day with a talk on the current status of the history of gender and sexuality in the UK. The organising committee would like to invite paper proposals on any aspect of the history of gender. Papers will be no more than 10 minutes, with the expectation that presenters will use this time to introduce particular questions they are grappling with, sources that have proven problematic, or issues that would benefit from the input of scholars with different specialisms. Breakout discussions will follow presentations. Papers that draw on the expertise within the Reading History Department are particularly welcome, but we encourage researchers working within any area of the histories of gender to submit proposals. The organising committee also welcomes proposals for creative presentations. Whilst the traditional research poster is welcome, we also encourage scholars who wish to present in other creative ways – videos, photography, or zines, for example – to apply. Please send a brief CV and a summary of the proposed paper or presentation (no more than 250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 3rd August, 2018. Please note that, in the spirit of fostering networks between postgraduate students and building a dialogue around the future of the study of histories of gender in the UK, travel costs will be covered for all presenters (from within the UK, standard class rail travel only). The organisers would like to express their gratitude to the Women’s History Network for awarding us funding to make this conference possible. 42
· The event
Bodies in Trouble: A Charity Film Festival
The Bodies in Trouble Charity Film Festival is a one-day awareness and fundraising event held at the University of Kent. Its major objective is to raise money for the ‘Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse’ Charity by promoting and screening films directed by female filmmakers. Over the course of the event, film practitioners and specialists will present the films prior to the screenings and lead panel discussions. The Rising Sun Charity representatives will also attend to speak about their work. To mark the end of the festival, BAFTA and multiaward-winning film director, founder and president of Think Equal, Leslee Udwin, will be present for a Q&A with the audience. · The goals Holding the Bodies in Trouble Charity Film Festival is now more important than ever. In the light of the recent accusations of sexual harassment against the high-profile public figure Harvey Weinstein, women across the world have started speaking up. With this film festival, we would like to stand up with them, and make a statement against physical and psychological violence. It is our aim to raise consciousness, to show how violence pervades all social classes – to implicate everyone. The Bodies in Trouble Charity Film Festival is about showing the diverse ways female directors have represented gender violence and the body in fiction and non-fictional works. It will be open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics from the University of Kent and beyond, as well as to a non-academic audience. Fundraising and solidarity. The Bodies in Trouble Charity Film Festival is more than a screening programme aimed at entertainment and cinephilia. It distinguishes itself by its non-profitable, pedagogical and humanitarian goal. The screening programme is characterised by its accessibility to a wide-ranging audience (i.e. nonspecialised public, students and scholars) in order to increase public attendance and, subsequently, the funds and spontaneous donations for the Rising Sun charity. Cinephilia. The festival provides a great opportunity for the public to discover a selection of transnational cinematic works by female directors and their various explorations of on-screen gender violence. · The charity The Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse Charity is a local charitable organisation based in Kent and provides services for families who are affected by domestic violence and abuse.
· The Q&A
Leslee Udwin started her own charity organisation Think Equal, an educational charity aiming to bring the ‘missing subject’ of social and emotional learning to children from the earliest years (3 and onwards) to fight gender and other discrimination through values-based education. India’s Daughter has sparked a global movement for gender equality and Udwin has been invited by the UN to give a speech in 2016. She was elected by the New York Times second most impactful woman of 2015, right behind Hillary Clinton. India’s Daughter won 38 awards across the world. The programme 19 May 2018 Gulbenkian Cinema 14.00 - 15.00: Screening of Pollution, a short film made by School of Arts student Annie Pilnik followed by a discussion with the director 15:00 – 17:45: Introduction by Prof. Núria Triana Toribio + Screening of Take My Eyes (2003) by Icíar Bollaín followed by a panel discussion with Rising Sun officers 18:00 - 20:00: Introduction by Mylène Branco and Dominique Carlini Versini + Screening of India’s Daughter (2015) followed by a Q&A with director Leslee Udwin For more information about the event, please contact the organisers Mylène Branco (mmb28@kent. ac.uk) and Dominique Carlini Versini (email@example.com). The Bodies in Trouble Charity Film Festival is kindly supported by the Centre for Film and Media Research, the School of European Culture and Languages, the Postgraduate Experience Awards and the Student Projects Grant Scheme, University of Kent.
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The third issue of a magazine created by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster, which...
Published on May 16, 2018
The third issue of a magazine created by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster, which...