15th March 2021
Official free fortnightly newspaper by and for Sussex students · Printed on recycled paper
Under The Sheets pushes Sexual Safety Agenda: Vice-Chancellor Responds
Ellie Doughty Print Production Editor
[Content warning: This article discusses topics of sexual violence] Under the Sheets (UTS) have followed up their survey from last term with a push for policy change at Sussex, an SU referendum campaign and ongoing talks with the University. The group published their survey results online in February of this year, of which over 160 students took part. 81% of respondents said they had never received mandatory consent education or training, and 87% said they had never had a University faculty member signpost resources regarding sexual assault policies and / or education. 71% of respondents reported being subject to some form of sexual harassment or assault. 61% of them reported being witness to the same. 70% of reporting students never reported the incident to the university. Over 40% reported experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment or assault at a society event. Certain societies, namely Sussex Men’s Rugby, Sussex Snow and Men’s Hockey, were the most prevalent when asked if a perpetrator belonged to a society or club. A UTS spokesperson told
The Badger: “The results of our survey were unfortunately not surprising to us. We know that this is a huge issue at UK universities and Sussex is not exempt. Our job now is to use these figures along with other research and collaborative efforts to spur change at Sussex.” The UTS campaign for the Spring SU referendum focuses on the reaffirmation of commitment by the Student Union to lobby the University in improving sexual safety at Sussex. The referendum goals include lobbying for mandatory consent courses, sexual safety posters, extra training for residential advisors, greater safety measures on campus, and improvements to the reporting system. A UTS spokesperson said: “We are currently holding meetings with certain members of the university to discuss what we can do moving forward in meeting our collective aims of reducing sexual violence on campus. Much of the discussion in these meetings has included similar content to the referendum campaign, and we hope that with the lobbying of the SU, and our efforts to reach out, we can come to some fruitful conclusions.”
NHS pay rise & New Zealand tsunami scare 3
Tory chumocracy & A vaccine pasport future? 9
Number 10 Esperantisto~commonswiki Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell was asked to interview but declined to do so in real time. He has instead sent the following in answer to The Badger’s questions. The University has been working on making consent courses mandatory for a while, and hasn’t been able to as of yet. In aid of student support, transparency and accountability; why hasn’t the University informed the student body that this is something they’re trying to achieve? We have seen encouraging take up of our online consent course, which we ask students to complete when they register. Since we launched it in 2019 more than 5,000 new
Hannah Shillto 22-23
students have completed the course. We’ve also had good feedback about the course itself. We are going to make it even clearer that we require all students starting in 2021 to complete the course at the point of registration, but with an important opt out for students who may be triggered by completing the course, due to their previous experience. It’s imperative that we have this opt out facility, which then in turn directs the student to our support services. We want to get as close to 6,000 completions as possible at the point of registration.
Continued on page 3...
Franz Kafka focus & A chat with Cassius Gray 13
Nathan Evans & Putting on a pandemic play17
Travel & Culture Brownie baking & Summer anticipation 26
Science & Tech
Ebola in 2021 & Gold to treat cancer? 29
Fury vs. Joshua & Sussex Esports roundup 31
Editor-in-Chief Josh Talbot email@example.com Print Production Editor Ellie Doughty Online Production Editor Georgia-May Keetch Print Production Sub-Editor Gurpreet Raulia Online Production Sub-Editor Margaret Arabambi Marketing Managers Alex Norman Sarah Wong The News Team Oliver Mizzi Ewan Vellinga Grace Curtis Jake Nordland Aiala Suso badger-news@sussexstudent. com The Comment Team Issy Anthony Will Day Libby Mills Joel Renouf-Cooke Rosie Cook badger-opinion@sussexstudent. com The Features Team Alana Harris Olly Williams Teddy Parkin Maisie Thorman badgerfeatureseditor@gmail. com The Arts Team Jessica Hake Robyn Cowie firstname.lastname@example.org The Books Team Eric Barrell Molly Openshaw thebadger.bookseditor@gmail. com The Music Team Alice Barradale Dylan Bryant thebadger.musiceditor@gmail. com The Film & Television Team Yazz James Rob Salusbury email@example.com The Theatre Team Elijah Arief firstname.lastname@example.org The Artist Focus Team Luisa De La Concha Montes email@example.com The Travel & Culture Team Hal Keelin Bryony Rule Katya Pristiyani firstname.lastname@example.org The Sports Team Charlie Batten Max Killham email@example.com The Science & Technology Team Eleanor Deane Rob Barrie firstname.lastname@example.org Events and Publicity Jess Dingle Grace Ochieng Proof Readers Yasmine Yaguer Jake Nordland
Editorial Josh Talbot Editor in Chief
Ellie Doughty Print Production Editor
Hello all! Thanks for picking up a copy of what is our 10th edition of the academic year! Time is pushing on and we have it’s crazy to think that there have been nine editions before this one and we are edging closer and closer towards the end of The Badger year. I won’t upset myself by putting down in writing just how many editions we have left but it’s safe to say we have done the majority! Since last writing here the world has been plunged into grieving the loss of Sarah Everard. For so many women nationally and internationally, this death was symbolic of oppression, fear and discomfort felt on a daily basis. Ellie, our Print Production Editor, this week wrote the front page on work being done on a local level to hold power to account and insight change; read her editorial in the next column for her thoughts on the raw systemic issues that have been highlighted recently but have been suffered by so many for so long. The Badger always strives to highlight injustice, however normalised, and will assume a role of facilitating conversation and pushing change in effort of uprooting the deeprooted problems of gender violence at Sussex and further afield. Thanks for reading- if you have a voice on any of the issues raised in the paper or you have a separate point to raise on something that has significance to you, we’re listening. Get in touch with us on badger@sussexstudent. com. We are always looking for contributions and if you’re a Sussex student we want to hear from you. For now we hope you enjoy reading this edition. It’s always a great experience to work on and we can and we can only hope that this is at least slightly transferred to the reading experience. See you next time where we will be a step even closer to the end of what has been, against all odds, a fun-filled Badger year.
Hi everyone and thanks for coming back to read the 10th edition of The Badger this academic year! Characteristically in line with the past year, these past two weeks have been eventful and potentially pivotal here in the UK. Normally editorials are a chance for me to write about the wonderful content in our paper, and as usual this edition contains a great array of pieces to sink your teeth into. But, this time, I’m doing it a little differently. I want to dedicate this small editorial to the women and people all over this country who suffer from gender-based violence every day. The UK watched as the news of Sarah Everard’s suspected murder came to light this week, and as debates around gender based violence were sparked. A UN survey released on March 10th also catalysed conversation around this, when 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been sexually harassed. Many students at this university, particularly those who identify as women, will have felt a very personal and visceral reaction to this. This is a problem which is all too real, and one that most women will have experienced, been close to or observed in their lifetime. We not only live in a society where many of us are not safe, we live in one where we are often not believed, not respected, and not heard. A piece I wrote this week looks at data from Under the Sheets, an interview with the Vice Chancellor and comments from Sussex societies, in an attempt to report on the ongoing systems, conversations and commitments at Sussex to counter sexual violence. We can hope, I like to think, that as a community we are making waves in the direction of change. We can hope that conversations which have been more easily ignited, have also been more poignant, carried more weight, and will leave behind a bigger imprint.
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The Badger 1st March 2021
News ... continued from front To answer your point about what we are trying to achieve, we will provide information for students on our target for completion of the consent course on the Student Hub and I’ve asked teams to look into this. We also offer workshops on consent and healthy relationships to all Sussex students and they form part of our holistic approach to ensuring a safe and enjoyable university experience. I know our teams are also keen to be able to start scheduling inperson workshops when we are all back on campus. It would be great to work with the Badger on promoting the sessions. The Under the Sheets Sexual Violence at Sussex Survey of 160 students in autumn 2020 produced some results which are accessible on their online platforms. Is the Vice-Chancellor surprised by these results? Sadly, I am not surprised by some of the results. We know that most cases of sexual violence are underreported and, although people who have witnessed or been subject to it are more likely to fill in a survey, there is a real problem that needs to be addressed. I am always very concerned to hear about any unwanted sexual activity and I want to assure those students who completed the survey that we take their experiences very seriously. I know that colleagues at the Students’ Union will be concerned at the reports stemming from Freshers events and societies– and I’m keen that we consider what more needs to be done, which I know is supported by the Students’ Union and will hopefully be taken forward in terms of enhanced training. Within the University we have front line staff who are trained responders, including all of our residential advisors (which means we have 24hr support on campus), all our staff in the Student Life Centre and a large number of staff working in Schools. Importantly all student facing staff, including our 24hr security team are provided
3 with information as part of our care pathway to direct students to someone who is trained. In practice this means that one single referral is required to ensure a student is in touch with someone who is a trained responder. Our approach through our consent training, as well as our range of support services is one of prevention and protection. Ultimately we want to be in a position where our prevention work is so effective that the protection element required is reduced, but we are not there yet and we do all need to work together to improve things. I support the work of Under the Sheets and other student groups who work on these issues – we are listening and continuing to take action. Are all faculty at Sussex who are involved with student interaction trained in disclosure, should a student come to them with a traumatic experience to share? If not, why not? It’s important when someone discloses that they speak to someone who has received comprehensive training in this area. As such, we provide guidance to all our faculty, as part of our care pathway on how to refer someone to a fully trained responder. This sign-posting is a critical part of the protection element of our support for students. Between 2017 and 2019, prelockdown, the University paid Survivors’ Network and RISE to provide awareness-raising and disclosure training to staff. Many academics took up this opportunity. We are also exploring the possibility of an online disclosure course and are considering the most appropriate programme. Are the 24-hour on campus services signposted to students immediately following assault fully trained in trauma response and disclosure? If not, why not? Yes, staff in the Residential Life team are fully trained in trauma response and disclosure of sexual violence.
Are the staff, residential advisors, and security staff at Sussex given bystander training? If not, why not? Bystander training is most appropriately focussed on students themselves and Students’ Union social venues, such as bars, where intervention is most likely to be required. I’m aware that the Students’ Union has carried out this training with bar staff. We have also included this in our healthy relationships module on Canvas as well as in our Wellbeing Quiz, which is offered to all new students pre-registration. Would the University fund consent and bystander training for all societies and clubs at Sussex? If not, why not? Yes we very much support this. Student societies and clubs are run by the Students’ Union, so it would be their decision. We would however strongly encourage those running societies to join our workshops or complete the online training – and this is something we are discussing further with the sabbatical officers. The University of Sussex Sexual Violence Strategy from 2018-2025 includes an estimation that 1/3 of female students report having experienced inappropriate touching or groping; a statistic taken from YouthSight in 2015. It also uses a statistic from CSEW 2018 which showed 20% of women and 4% of men had experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16. However, more recent research suggests the actual figures to be higher. Will the Vice-Chancellor accept that statistics of sexual violence are likely much higher than the official statistics given (due to under-reporting, lack of education and more), and conduct serious research into the sexual violence at Sussex University to fully understand the problem? I accept that there is a fundamental issue with sexual violence within our society – and this includes on University campuses up and down the country.
We have to continue to do more and never accept the status quo. I am keen for us to be the University that continues to take action, based on what we know. That includes more students taking consent classes, more students speaking up and reporting through our new reporting tool, and safer environments for students so that we don’t see these kinds of statistics again and again. I appreciate that it is very difficult to get accurate statistics on sexual violence due to factors such as under-reporting, fear of what might happen if a student does come forward, and misunderstandings about what constitutes inappropriate behaviour. However, I would be keen for the University to carry out its own regular research by surveying students, so that we can better measure the success of the new initiatives we have and are continuing to introduce. Academic colleagues should be involved in designing this survey. I think this should be discussed at the next Consent Awareness & Abuse Prevention Steering Group, that UTS will hopefully be attending. Where an incident occurs off campus, such as during a night out in Brighton, we work with the SU to offer every possible support to our students. This includes crisis response support from trained staff and key initiatives. While we cannot directly control what takes place outside the University, we remain committed to working with city leaders and groups to help Brighton to be a safer place for our students to live and enjoy. Thank you for all your work in this area. A UTS spokesperson said: “We are pleased to see the Vice Chancellor acknowledge the gravitas of the issue and outline further plans for improvement within systems at Sussex. We look forward to collaborating with the University further.” Sussex Men’s Rugby have said the following: “We are disgusted and ashamed of the results of the survey, and we do not
condone any of the behaviour represented by these statistics. We have the utmost respect for those that stood up and spoke out, and we thank them, as well as the Under the Sheets, for shedding a light on these harmful issues that have permeated into the behaviour of some individuals in our club. We are striving to educate all of our members in issues of consent, toxic masculinity, and the associated mental health consequences of such topics.” Sussex Snow also provided comment: “As a club, we’re heartbroken by the survey results and are committed to doing better, initiating important conversations and striving for change in troublesome uni society culture, especially attitudes towards sexual assault. We support all the people who have vocalised their sexual assault experiences, and thank them endlessly for their bravery. We hear you. We have and will continue to push ourselves as a club to genuinely reconsider how we can improve the safety of our Snow community as well as our fellow Sussex students. Please vote ‘yes’ in the SU referendum being held on Monday the 15th of March, to stand in solidarity and make Sussex safer. We hope this article gains traction amongst Sussex students, driving us to learn from the past and inspire much needed change.” Finally Sussex Men’s Hockey responded, saying: “As a club, we are deeply saddened by the statistics released in this report. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any kind of harassment or assault. We deal with these issues when brought to us seriously and communicate with the university accordingly. We have previously run sexual consent workshops with ‘Sussex Under the Sheets’ and we look to continue these sorts of programs in the future. As a club, our aim is to make Sussex a safer place for everyone and we will do all that we can to achieve this.” For the full article, including a statement from the SU officer team and details of support services see ‘News’ on our website.
New Zealand Tsunami Scare raised after earthquake shock Diane Naimeh Staff Writer
Three earthquakes hit the North Island region of New Zealand last week and were described as being some of the strongest ones ever, and caused a Tsunami scare in the country. On March 4, thousands of people had to be evacuated after the effects of the 8.1 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami scare after it struck, which brought the whole population
into shock. According to BBC and CNN news channels, the national tsunami warning was downgraded around 2:43 pm. It happened 13 hours after the first earthquake. On Friday afternoon, several waves hit parts of the coast and officials said that the largest parts of the shock had passed. The residents were being told that they could go back home but they were also warned to stay away from cracks or danger zones.
Mr Tia Reid who works for the US government in the territory stated on BBC channel that: “alarms went off in the building and we immediately took for higher ground”. Those coastal areas saw certain waves surges around 3m and 10 feet, while areas in South America such as Peru , Ecuador and Chile were warned that they could see around 1m of waves reaching the coast. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated
that “tsunami waves have been observed” but that no damage has been reported. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern said in her statement: “hope everyone is okay out there” New Zealand’s Civil defense department advised the residents to avoid getting caught in the chaos. Meanwhile the local media posted footage of waves appearing in the Tokomaru bay. The earlier tsunami warnings have been called off due to the
National Emergency Management Agency sending out alerts and sounding a tsunami siren in some areas in advance of the third earthquake. Last week’s earthquake coincided with the 10th anniversary of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that led to the death of 185 people in 2011, which significantly damaged southern islands in Christchurch leading to a massive tragedy.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Piers Morgan leaves Good Morning Britain Robyn Cowie Arts Editor Piers Morgan had been a presenter for ITV’s breakfast show for over six years, however the controversial presenter stormed out of the studio during its live broadcasting on Tuesday the 9th of March and it was subsequently announced he was not to return, effective immediately. An ITV spokesperson said: “Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.” Morgan made comments in response to the interview, which had aired in the United States the night before. There were many different talking points of the interview, but the one which Piers Morgan caused the most uproar in response to was when he claimed to not believe that Meghan Markle had struggled with suicidal thoughts whilst being a working royal. “Who did
iDominick you go to?” he said. “What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report”. Many were quick to criticise these comments and point out the irony that Piers Morgan was making these comments on International Women’s Day. Also it lead to people taking to social media to highlighting the daming nature of these comments
in regards to the topics of mental health and suicide since ITV is partnered with the charity Mind, on its Britain Get Talking Campaign who stated they were “disappointed” by the presenter’s comments. A total of 41,015 complaints were made to media watchdog Ofcom by 14:00 GMT on Tuesday, which is the second highest in Ofcom history. A spokesperson for the regulator said “we have launched an investigation into Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain under our harm and offence rules”. On Wednesday’s edition of GMB, Sussanna Reid, the long term co-host of Piers Morgan, addressed his departure and described him as an “outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster”. She later went on to say, “It is certainly going to be very different but shows go on and so on we go”. It is yet to be confirmed who shall replace Piers Morgan on the programme.
Trial Set for four accused of toppling Colston statue Ettie Langridge Staff Writer A trial date of December 13 has been set for those accused of pulling down the Bristol Edward Colston statue during Black Lives Matter protests in the city last summer. Jake Skuse, 36, Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, and Sage Willoughby, 21, appeared at Bristol Crown Court, with all four defendants denying causing criminal damage. In a statement law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which are representing three of the four defendants, said they would fight “vigorously” against the charges. Saying “We are committed to defending them and their right to a fair trial in this important case.” The statue of Colston (a noted slave trader) was pulled down and thrown into Bristol Harbour on June 7 2020 amid BLM protests. In the aftermath of the event, Bristol city council took the decision to retrieve and pre-
RedSquirrel serve the statue, including graffiti placed on it during the protests and the bike tire that was attached to the statue during its retrieval from the water. It is set to be placed in a museum alongside BLM placards from the event, although Bristol city council have confirmed official plans have yet to be made as to where and when it will be displayed.
Oprah Winfrey’s Interview with Harry and Meghan Ellie Doughty Print Production Editor Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Sunday garnered millions of views and covered allegations of racism inside the royal family, their mental health and personal relationships with other royals. Perhaps the biggest allegation made was of a conversation an unnamed member of the royal family had with Harry, voicing ‘concerns’ about ‘how dark’ their unborn son’s skin would be, in tandem with questions about his security provisions. Other notable claims included Meghan’s alleged denied request for help from the palace when she began experiencing suicidal thoughts. When Winfrey asked for clarity on their move being motivated by getting away from the UK Press, or due to lack of support from The Firm, Harry said ‘It was both’. Focus was also paid to Harry’s relationships in the family, particularly with the Queen, his brother Prince William and his father Prince Charles. Harry said that it hurt him when his family never spoke out on the ‘colonial undertones’ of press coverage, and that he was ‘really let down’ by his father Prince Charles, for how the situation had been handled. They also said that the royal family declined to provide security for Harry, and that his fam-
Mark Jones ily officially ‘cut (him) off financially’ in ‘the first half, the first quarter of 2020’. Harry said of his relationship with Charles that while he is now taking Harry’s calls, ‘there’s a lot to work through there’, and of his brother that their ‘relationship is space, at the moment’. When speaking of the Queen, Harry said he has a ‘really good’ relationship with his grandmother and described her as his ‘colonel-in-chief’. Meghan also spoke warmly of the Queen, relaying a story of her sharing a blanket with Meghan and giving her jewellery at the couple’s first joint engagement. Winfrey has since clarified that it was neither the Queen
nor Prince Philip who made the comments concerning Archie’s skin colour, but Harry specified that he will ‘never’ share that conversation.
Harry said that it hurt him when his family never spoke out on the ‘colonial undertones’ of press coverage, and that he was ‘really let down’ by his father Prince Charles, for how the situation had been handled. Speaking of their decision to leave the UK in 2020, Harry said they were trying to ‘take a break’ from ‘this constant barrage. My biggest concern was history repeating itself’. ‘But more, perhaps. Or defi-
nitely far more dangerous because then you add race in and you add social media in. And when I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my...my mother.’ Meghan went on to share her experience of isolation after joining the royal family, not leaving her house for more than ‘twice in four months’. She went on to describe her mental health as so bad that she ‘didn’t want to be alive any more’. Despite going to ‘one of the most senior people’ within the institution, and the palace human resources department, Meghan said ‘nothing was ever done’. Speaking of their decision to move, Harry said ‘I went to all the places which I thought I should go to, to ask for help’. Winfrey asked if they left because they were ‘asking for help and couldn’t get it?’, to which Harry replied ‘Yeah, basically, But we never left.’ Meghan added “We never left the family and we only wanted to have the same type of role that exists, right? They’re senior members of the family and then there are non-senior members.’ When recalling her assimilation into the royal family, Meghan said that she and her friends and family were told to always say ‘no comment’ when asked about things in the press, and that in exchange she was told she’d be protected. She said after time she came
to realise that the royal family was ‘willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband’. One example she gave was the tabloid reports of Meghan making Kate cry over an argument about flower girl dresses at the wedding. Meghan said that in fact it was Kate who had made her cry, and after the reverse was reported in the press the royal family prevented certain people from speaking out to correct the record.
Winfrey has since clarified that it was neither the Queen nor Prince Philip who made the comments concerning Archie’s skin colour, but Harry specified that he will ‘never’ share that conversation. ‘I’m talking about things that are super artificial’, Meghan said, ‘But the narrative about, you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assasination. And they knew it wasn’t true’. A Palace statement released on Tuesday said ‘The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately’.
The Badger 15th March 2021
“Pitiful”: Proposed 1% NHS pay increase sparks backlash Luke Thomson In the 2021 Budget, the government has declared that large sections of NHS workers in England will likely receive just a 1% pay increase for the upcoming year. The change was recommended by the independent and unelected NHS pay review body. The body is made up of members who have economic expertise, however none of them have any experience in the health fields. The pay rise will cover a total of 1.5 million NHS workers, such as nurses, receptionists, and midwives. The starting salary of a fully qualified nurse is £24,950. It will not cover professions such as doctors, GPs or dentists, all of which have their own separate review body. It is crucial to note the wage increase is only a proposal that was recommended to the government. Although the 1% change is not expected to shift, there will be another review held in April, with a final recommendation
coming in May. Unions across the NHS have voiced outrage at the ‘miniscule’ raise, calling instead for a 12.5% increase at the very least. Several unions have considered the possibility of a legal strike in the longer term. In wake of the recent anger, NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens told the Daily Mail on 9 March that the original plan before the lockdown occurred was to actually have a 2.1% increase. The fact this has been reduced considering the amount of work NHS staff have conducted over the pandemic has offended many. Since the interview by Stevens was given, Prime Minister Boris Johnson came out in defence of the move in PM questions on 10 March. When questioned on how he can defend the action, he exclaimed “we’re in pretty tough times right now”, and the rise was the most they could have possibly done. Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak also backed
up the PM’s words, calling measures “proportionate, fair and reasonable”. He pointed to the fact the increase targeted those with below the median income in the NHS, who can expect a boost of at least an extra £250 a year. Despite these strong declarations, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland emphasised again that the government is not mandated to take the recommendation. Buckland said that he hoped “an appropriate pay increase could be found” and left open the possibility that the government might change their mind on the issue. A turn of events like this could echo that of the school meal issue that happened several months ago. Indeed, echoing the words of Buckland, UK universities minister Michelle Donelan recently said on Good Morning Britain that if the government did decide to ignore the recommendation and increase it further, such a move would “not be a U-
turn”. Labour are also angered at the proposals. Their public media message has been that the news is an “ultimate kick in the teeth for NHS heroes on the front line”, according to the BBC. This war-like terminology has been a constant theme in both Labour, and the government’s messaging. Despite this relatively strong stance, the leader of Labour, Keir Starmer, did not think that the union demand of a 12.5% increase would be a realistic figure to aim for. Instead, he believed that the original goal of a 2.1% rise would be a very good “starting point”, one which he would settle for considering the current economic situation in the country. Facing this barrage of criticisms, the government has been quick to defend themselves. They pointed to the fact 50% of the NHS budget already goes to NHS staff salaries (a total of £56 billion) and any more money allocated to wages would hin-
der funds available to health equipment and services. Defenders of the move have also pointed to the millions of public sector workers who have had their pay frozen in this year’s budget. NHS workers are one of the few groups who have seen any increases at all. It seems such a view is the minority, though. Chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, believes the move is nothing more than a formality. Far greater recognition is needed for “a workforce that has literally kept this country alive for the past 10 months”, he says. A recent poll done by Redfield and Wilson strategy, interviewing around 2,000 people, reflected that 62% of the public were against the change, believing that the rise was far too low. The poll also found a majority of Conservative party voters questioned believed the increase should be higher.
UK festivals go ahead with uncertainty in 2021 Aiala Suso News Sub Editor The UK Government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions, announced on 22 February, aims to have all social distancing measures lifted by 21 June at the earliest. The news has brought hopes to festival organisers, who could see their events going ahead this year if Boris Johnson’s timeline remains intact. However, the industry is concerned about the lack of Governmentbacked insurance schemes in case plans change. According to the BBC, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) said that “2021 festival season is by no means guaranteed at this point” and “there is still the chance of widespread cancellations if data around covid cases does not meet the Government’s requirements and lockdown easing is delayed.” The Government has explained that it “hopes that the increased protection offered by vaccines will gradually replace the restrictions”, and hopes that “all legal limits on social contact can be removed” in the summer. Although major outdoor events of up to 4,000 people are allowed from 17 May, most festival organisers are planning their events for Stage 4 of the roadmap; that is the last stage and is
Aiala Suso set to start on 21 June. Paul Reed, chief executive of the AIF, told Sky news that festivals need to make a decision on whether they are going ahead by the end of march, despite the fact that currently there are no COVID-19 insurance measures to protect them. For festivals, especially the small ones, to go ahead with the current level of uncertainty could be risky without a Government-backed insurance scheme. On 2 March Wales online reported that “conservative chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee
Julian Knight called on the Government to introduce an insurance scheme to help protect festivals and other cultural events, should Covid-19 force them to cancel for a second summer running.” Glastonbury and Download are the two biggest festivals who cancelled their events for the second year in a row. Glastonbury’s cancellation was announced on 21 January, prior to the Government announcement in February. In 2020 they celebrated their 50th anniversary, which had to be replaced with a virtual event.
Download reported the news on 1 March. “Last year the festival was also called off due to the pandemic, in what would have been the 40th anniversary of its original incarnation, Monsters of Rock.”, BBC reported. Here is a list of the festivals that are ready to go ahead if the circumstances allow it, and some of their public reactions to the Government’s plan to ease all COVID restrictions this summer: July festivals Wireless, 2-4 July (London) Field Day (10 July, London) Latitude (22-25 July, Suffolk) “Planning for Latitude 2021 is well underway and following Monday’s government announcement, we hope to have more news to share with you very soon. We can’t wait to be reunited with you this summer.”, said the organisers on social media. Standon Calling, 22-25 July (Hertfordshire) Camp Bestival, 29 July-1 August (Dorset) August festivals Wilderness, 5-8 August (Oxfordshire) Boomtown, 11-15 August (Hampshire) “It’s still a long and rather complicated road to get there, but if we’re allowed to go ahead, words will never be able to fully
describe the sheer love and energy that will radiate through this years’ fair”, Boomtown website says. Green Man, 19-22 August (Brecon Beacons) Creamfields, 26-29 August (Cheshire) Reading and Leeds, 27-29 August (Reading and Leeds) All Points East, 28 August (London) September festivals Neighbourhood Weekender (3-5 September, Warrington) Mighty Hoopla (4 September, London) Love Saves the Day (4-5 September, Bristol) Parklife (11–12 September, Manchester) Isle of Wight Festival, 16-19 September (Isle of Wight) “In case you missed it, #IOW2021 is on for Sept 16 -19 🙌 We can’t wait to celebrate the end of Summer with you all 🙌 🙌 ”, said the organisers on social media. Boundary Brighton, on 25 September (Brighton). “It’s finally time to look forward again. September 2021. The biggest comeback party [on] the south coast…”, the festival organisers wrote on social media.
The Badger 15th March 2021
6 New legislative elections in Israel
Olly Williams Features Sub Editor Against the background of COVID vaccination rollout, Israel is set to begin its March 23rd election - the fourth election in just two years. The election follows the collapse of its current coalition government which lasted merely 8 months. The alliance between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz had been formed expressly to avoid another election and to combine forces at the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak. Netanyahu has served as Israel’s Prime Minister for the Likud Party since 2009, subsequently being re-elected six times – despite being indicted
Executive Office of the President of the United States and President of the Russian Federation (Matankic) on charges of corruption at the time of the April 2019 election. The ongoing trial against Netanyahu for 3 separate cases of bribery, fraud and breach of
trust has delayed the beginning of its evidentiary stage until after the March elections. Political party rivals to Netanyahu who currently stands first in the
polls - appear ready to capitalize on these charges as well as the public’s election fatigue. Second in the latest polls, political party Yest Atid, and their candidate Yair Lapid, have published a detailed manifesto plan to “fight corruption” and create a “sane government”. Israel’s electoral system is one of nationwide proportional representation, a system which means the election could end up being decided not at the top of the polls but at the bottom. Israel’s small Islamist party, Ra’am, hopes the potential to form a collation could elevate the Arab voice in Israeli politics. “Arab politicians have been onlookers in the political process in Israel” said party leader, Mansour Abbas, in an interview on his cam-
paign trail in Kafr Kanna, “Arabs are looking for a real role in Israeli politics”. With Palestinian citizens forming more than a fifth of the Israeli population, politicians know not to overlook the Arab vote. Netanyahu was expected to make a long-anticipated trip to the United Arab Emirates after ongoing efforts within the Gulf federation to normalise relations with Israel. The trip was, however, delayed due to problems negotiating travel through Jordanian airspace – according to Netanyahu’s campaign team. With Netanyahu taking a twoseat loss in the polls earlier this week, the countdown to March 28th remains ever tense and unpredictable.
Sarah Everard vigils end in disarray and arrest after police forces crack down on attendees Miranda Dunne Staff Writer
Hundreds of women flocked to vigil locations on Saturday to pay respects for Sarah Everard, despite police forces banning events. The 33-year-old marketing executive went missing on the 3 March after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham. Her remains were formally identified on Friday. Police were seen taking action against vigil-goers both in Clapham and locally in Brighton. News images of the Clapham event appear to show police grabbing, shoving and arresting women as home secretary Priti Patel ordered a full report of police action on Saturday evening. Events come after the Metropolitan Police banned a vigil organised by Reclaim These Streets due to take place in south London on Saturday evening, claiming it was unlawful under COVID restrictions. The group reckoned a high court challenge but lost it, with the judge saying that the police had told organisers their ‘hands were tied’ by COVID-19 restrictions. The Met police stated they are not enforcing a ‘blanket ban on all protests’, but did not say how they determine which protests to ban. Anna Birley, an organiser, told the BBC the group had ‘consistently’ asked the police to establish ‘what would be a safe way to exercise our right.’ Organisers released a statement on Saturday, formally cancelling the Clapham event after failing to reach agree-
ment with metropolitan police. Organisers in Brighton shortly followed suit, announcing the official vigil had been cancelled, instead encouraging people to use their daily walk to place flowers, placards and notes in Valley Gardens. The decision to cancel the Brighton event followed a statement from Sussex police which read: “We also recognise the desire to come together at this time, to mourn, show respect and make a statement on the issue of women’s safety. “We remain, however, firmly in a public health emergency and the Covid-19 regulations continue to disallow large gatherings because of the continued, and very real, risks of the spread of the virus.” Despite this, many people were seen placing flowers and candles, and standing listening to speakers at Valley Gardens. Police were then seen asking people to leave and one man was seen being arrested. Sussex po-
lice confirmed they had arrested an 18-year-old man following the events. Sussex police defend their actions in their statement: “Officers attended and engaged with those present, explaining the government’s coronavirus regulations and encouraging them to move on from the area. Where this wasn’t successful, officers moved to necessary and proportionate enforcement action. This is consistent with our policing approach throughout the pandemic.” This approach toward protests comes two weeks after Sussex police meted out a fine to a woman accused of organising a protest against the contract cut to domestic abuse charity Rise on Brighton seafront.
MPs pay tribute on International Women’s Day Debate.
Everard’s disappearance has sparked public debate about women’s safety. On Thursday,
MPs attended an international women’s day debate, both in the commons and virtually. Numerous MPs expressed their sorrow at developments in the Sarah Everard case, a day before remains found in Kent were identified as hers. Over 60 MPs spoke, virtually and in the chamber, including Labour MP Jess Phillips, who read out the names of women killed over the past year in cases whereby a man was the principal suspect from a list compiled by Karen Ingala Smith of the Counting Dead Women Project. ‘Killed women are not vanishingly rare, killed women are common. Dead women do count.’ said Phillips. Before Phillips spoke, deputy speaker Dame Eleanor Laing said ‘The reading of lists is prohibited in this chamber’ but that the speaker had ‘given special dispensation’ for Philips to read the ‘very important’ list. A day before Ms Everard’s body had been formally identified, Philips read the final name, Wenjing Xu, before saying ‘let’s pray everyday and work everyday to make sure nobody’s name ends up on this list again.’ Phillips also spoke to Jayne Secker with Sky News on Sunday morning saying the actions of police last night undermined the ‘brilliant police officers’ over the country. She called on the government to ‘turn their rhetoric into action.’ Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins also spoke to Sky News on Mothers’ day saying that she took the polices’ action ‘very seriously’ and that the home secretary had asked
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick for a report on Saturday’s events in London. The commissioner is currently facing calls to resign. Atkins also highlighted that the government had reopened a survey for its violence against women and girls strategy in reponse to recent events, leading to a further 20,000 reponses since it opened at 6pm on Friday. Ahead of the government’s Violence against women and girls strategy 2021-2024, the government opened a ‘call for evidence’ in December 2020. It initially closed on 19 February last month, but since recent events relating to Sarah Everard, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced it had been reopened. Wayne Couzens, a 48-yearold police officer from Deal, Kent was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping on the 9 March, and murder on the 10 March. The suspect appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with Everard’s kidnap and murder, where Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring sent his case to the crown court. Suggested resources if you have been affected by the issues raised in this article University of Sussex info on health and wellbeing Survivors’ Network list of resources Samaritans Mental health hotline 116 123 Refuge, 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247 Mankind, 01823 334 244 Galop, LGBT domestic abuse helpline 0800 999 5428
The Badger 15th March 2021
Hong Kong charges 47 activists using National Security Law Ewan Vellinga News Online Sub Editor “Conspiracy to commit subversion” is what 47 people have been charged with in Hong Kong under a National Security Law introduced last year. Those charged were arrested on 6 January and are accused of helping run an “unofficial primary election” last June. This included picking opposition candidates for the 2020 legislative elections, which were later postponed, and trying to “overthrow” the government. The defendants include prominent pro-democracy activists Benny Tai, former professor at the University of Hong Kong, and Jimmy Sham, a political and LGBT rights activist. Altogether around 55 people were arrested in January under the new law, and the number has risen to 100 as of 2 March. Most of the defendants objected to government requests to keep them in jail, and hearings started on 1 March to see if they would receive bail before
the trials begin. 15 were granted bail, but they remain in police custody as prosecutors appeal the court’s decision. They are not the only ones who have been charged under the new law. At least 10 more people are also facing trial, including prominent media tycoon Jimmy Lai, detained earlier this month. However, none of the trials have yet begun in full. The BBC reports that Tong Ying-Kit, accused of riding a motorcycle into police officers in July, is likely to be first. He is expected to be tried by three judges rather than a jury. These arrests are the latest developments in continued political turmoil in Hong Kong, which was the site of mass protests in 2019 and 2020 by prodemocracy activists. Further protests were held outside the courts in support of the defendants. The National Security Law was introduced last year on 30 June. It works as an anti-sedition law that criminalises acts of seces-
sion, subversion, terrorism and collusion that are seen to “endanger national security.” Penalties can be as severe as life in prison, and the law not only applies to permanent residents in Hong Kong but also non-residents and even those outside Hong Kong, leading some to suggest it is technically applicable to every individual in the world. Such a law is required under the Hong Kong Basic Law that came into force following the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, but protests in 2003 meant the government failed to fulfil the legislation. The new version implemented by China is particularly controversial as it was introduced by Chinese officials who bypassed the Hong Kong Legislative Council. The BBC notes that critics have said it will give China sweeping powers that “effectively curtails protest and freedom of speech,” with many calling it “the end of Hong Kong.” However, Chinese officials say
the law will restore stability, law and order in Hong Kong, which is necessary due to the “chaos” of the last few years. Both the law and the recent arrests have received considerable criticism from abroad. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the decision to charge the activists was “deeply disturbing” and that it shows the law is “being used to eliminate political dissent.” In a further statement he said the law “violates the Joint Declaration, and its use in this way contradicts the promises made by the Chinese government, and can only further undermine confidence that it will keep its word on such sensitive issues.” The Chinese Embassy responded by saying “the UK side’s remarks confuse right and wrong, and interfere in China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty,” urging the UK “to respect the facts and the rule of law” and “discard its double standards and political manipulation.” Bloomberg News reports that
Chinese officials have also said “extremely few” people have been targeted using the law, and that it would be “irresponsible and scaremongering” to say it gives the government sweeping powers to jail opponents. In related news, Chinese legislators have approved an election overhaul that will likely make it difficult for opposition candidates to be elected to office in Hong Kong. The New York Times reports that a spokesman for the National People’s Congress indicated recent “political turmoil” means changes are needed to ensure a system of “patriots governing Hong Kong.” Similar to the National Security Law, such legislation has been implemented by China directly, bypassing the Hong Kong government. As such, although the trials are yet to begin, it is clear that these new laws are likely to significantly affect life in Hong Kong in the years to come.
Myanmar anti-coup demonstrators killed as military crackdown intensifies Oliver Mizzi News Editor Anti-coup demonstrators have been fired upon with live ammunition by military and police units in Myanmar for demonstrating against the military coup that took place on 1 February. The coup that took place ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi who had won last year’s November elections. Human rights investigator Thomas Andrews told the UN that since the start of the demonstrations 70 protestors have been fatally shot, with over 2,000 being detained. That number rose over the weekend, with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reporting the deaths of 126 people. In recent weeks the military has insisted on using greater force against the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) that has emerged following the coup. Police officers that had fled Myanmar to neighbouring India have told international reporters that the military ordered them to “shoot till they are dead”. Around 100 police officers and their families have fled. There have also been reports of police officers defecting to the CDM. On February 28, Police Major Tin Min Tun announced on a Facebook live-stream that he was joining the CDM, whilst
calling on fellow officers to “do what you believe is right”. Other high-ranking police officers have since joined in protest. Human rights groups made a joint call for the UN to implement an arms embargo on the new government, which has used live ammunition to quell unrest. Joanne Mariner of Amnesty international labelled the tactics used by the government as a “killing spree”. Footage of the violence has made its way online. Video evidence has shown that police officers have resorted to beating protestors prior to detention, and firing weapons such as shotguns, submachine guns, and assault rifles. As well as footage of police perpetration, video and photo evidence of the aftermath have also emerged. Some of the photos include wounds from beat-
ings, rubber bullets and live rounds. Videos show protestors carrying the injured and dead away from where they had been shot. In response to the violence committed by the new military state, protestors have increasingly become more organised. Protestors have armed themselves with makeshift shields and gas masks to protect the protests from police enforced dispersion – which often means the use of tear gas and physical beatings. Videos have emerged online of protestors fighting back against the state. In one video, protestors are seen throwing Molotov cocktails and firing homemade projectiles at the police, whilst seeking cover from tear gas and other rounds, behind an elaborate barricade made of wooden spikes, metal fencing, and
bricks. Another video that emerged shows protestors drilling with makeshift shields, forming a two layered shield wall designed to protect from projectiles like rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. The crackdown has also targeted Myanmar’s press with police raiding media offices – such as the news outlet Mizzima – and arresting journalists, including Thein Zaw who works for the Associated Press. Although violence has increased, peaceful demonstrations continue across the country. Marches have continued, and candlelight vigils are frequently held to commemorate those recently killed. Myanmar’s religious communities have also actively participated, with Buddhist monks from Sitagu International Buddhist University marching in solidarity with the CDM. During a confrontation between protestors and the police outside Saint Columban’s Cathedral in Myitkyina, a Catholic nun implored police to not fire on protests, kneeling whilst doing so. However, the police fired on the protestors which resulted in two protestors being killed, and another two injured. Whilst the new military government has increased its violence against protestors in major cities across Myanmar, in
the periphery of the country, the military has increasingly engaged armed rebel groups. One such area is the province of Kachin where there has been a flare up of fighting between the military and the Kachin Independence Army. On Friday, 10 armed rebel groups met online to discuss ways of supporting the CDM and offer protection to protestors from state violence. The group discussed ways to cooperate with the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Myanmar’s national legislative body) and the General Strike Committee. Some rebel groups such as the Karen National Liberation Army and Karen National Defence Organisation have been providing security to anti-coup demonstrators in their areas of operation. In conjunction with increasingly violent action against anticoup protestors, the military has put more pressure on the ousted leadership of the country. Over the weekend, Myanmar’s military accused Aung San Suu Kyi of illegally accepting $600,000 and 11kg of gold. Accusations of corruption were also levelled at President Win Myint and other members of the government that the military ousted. An MP from the National league for Democracy – the ruling party – denied the allegations.
The Badger 15th March 2021
News Where You’re Not
Grace Curtis, News Sub-Editor, reviews some of the big stories from across the country
Sunderland - Football fans raise £138k for charities in cup final tickets
Highlands – Cyber-attack targets to University of the Highlands and Islands A cyber-attack has caused disruption to services at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The attack meant that the network of 13 colleges and research institutions, including Inverness and Perth colleges, were closed to students on Monday. The source of the attack is still unknown, and University representatives said IT engineers were working to “isolate and minimise” the impact from the incident and they do not believe personal data has been affected.
Fans of Sunderland football have raised about £138,000 for charity by buying virtual tickets for the EFL Trophy final, in which they stormed to victory 1-0 on March 14. The Covid-19 lockdown meant that fans could not go to Wembley to watch the match against Tranmere Rovers live, but many instead bought commemorative tickets, which contributed to the impressive amount raised for charity. According to the BBC, the scheme was thought up by fan Peter Richardson and was run by various supporter groups and the club’s Foundation of Light. The charities that will benefit include the Salvation Army, Sunderland Foodbank and Washington Mind. Phil Pollard, vice chairman of Sunderland AFC Branch Liaison Council (BLC), said: “The amount raised may surprise some people but there is no surprise for me with Sunderland fans as to what they are capable of achieving.”
Wales - Traffic on Welsh roads 60% higher than first lockdown According to the BBC, all parts of Wales have seen a rise in road traffic in recent weeks when compared with the first national lockdown in March 2020. Traffic Wales and Welsh Government figures revealed that some areas recorded almost double the number of vehicles. This means a 62% rise in road use across Wales over the most recent six weeks compared with the first six full weeks of restrictions from March 2020. This is despite the legal restrictions being almost identical, with people asked to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.
Swindon – Football fans warned to stay away from Oxford derby Police have told fans of the Swindon Town football team to stay at home as the club take on arch-rivals Oxford United on 9 March. Wiltshire Police told fans “not to ruin the hard work that has been put in by so many” by turning up to the football ground in person. They added that extra patrols will be on guard around the stadium to ensure that lockdown rules and the ‘stay at home’ guidance are being followed. The warnings come immediately after Glaswegian football fans faced criticism for gathering in groups to celebrate the victory of the Rangers team in the Scottish Premiership league. Scotland’s deputy first minister accused the Rangers of a “lack of leadership” after fans broke lockdown rules on 7 March. The club responded by urging fans to stay at home.
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Suffolk – Saxmundham the most vaccinated area in the UK Saxmundham, a small market town in Suffolk, made headlines this week for the surprise revelation that 2/3 of their population have already been vaccinated against Covid-19. Just how did they manage to achieve this impressive feat? According to the BBC, local residents contribute this success to the local GP surgery, in particular the popular Dr. Havard. Saxmundham resident Jan Rose, 74 said that: “I think the care [from] the Saxmundham doctors and Suffolk the volunteers has been exceptional. It has been really, really good.” Dr Havard credits the local health administration team and volunteers for helping the vaccine rollout go so smoothly. “They’ve been working from home to organise everything and the volunteers have been absolutely amazing”. “People have been phoning up to say ‘can we help?’. It’s been a real community effort to make it work”.
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The Badger 15th March 2021
THE BIG DEBATE In The Big Debate this week, two writers debate whether social media only benefits influencers, or if activism makes it a positive space for more people.
Bryony Rule Travel & Culture Sub-Editor
Ellie Doughty Print Production Editor
Inconceivable to careers advisors a decade ago, social media influencing has ballooned into an established full-time job. This role is one which comes with a handsome payment; although earnings differ hugely within the industry, it is widely acknowledged that the profession can be extremely lucrative – it is not unheard of for prominent influencers to earn upwards of $1 million simply for a post on Instagram. The perceived benefits of the job have captured the attention of younger generations, 31% of whom, according to a survey conducted by Awin, now aspire to be a social media influencer or YouTuber when they grow up, citing money and fame as key motivating factors. However, the material gains are not the only draw of building a rapturous following. There are many different types of people who come under the umbrella term of ‘influencer’. For many in this bracket, the commodification usually associated with the influencer label is not their modus operandi. Rather, many influencers have found a safe haven in online spaces, where they have been able to build meaningful communities around shared causes and interests. Social media has provided a platform for people to share their passions, and craft a career around these, largely on their own terms. These communities cover all bases, from social justice and environmentalism, to fitness and motherhood. Another asset offered by social media is the opportunity it provides for users to construct their own narratives. In contrast to the old-guard media of women’s magazines and tabloid journalism, social media hands the tools to individuals themselves to construct the image they want to present to the world. Renowned for twisting words, initiating witch-hunts and gross privacy breaches, traditional media has a history of reproducing stories of people, particularly women, over which the individual concerned has no control or input. Social media and the influencing economy which accompanies it hands autonomy back to women, providing a much-needed counterbalance and opportunity for women to tell their own story. Needless to say, however, exhibiting your life online to the masses does not come without its pitfalls. The monetary gain, gifting, loyal fanbase and space for expression that influencers gain from their platforms is often accompanied by an immense pressure, scrutiny and constraining expectations. However, for the average user of social media, these downsides are arguably more pronounced and exacerbated by
the influencers that they follow. Whilst the influencer-follower relationship is ostensibly built on trust and relatability, this is often a fallacy. Influencers do not use social media in the same casual way as their many followers. Although posts may present a candid quality, they are generally carefully crafted to present a prespecified image. This creates a warped perception of reality amongst those who consume this content and who only see the end result. The introduction of Advertising Standards Authority guidelines which require influencers to disclose when they are being paid to feature a product, have helped to improve the transparency between influencer and audience. However, in many respects, this exchange remains indistinct. Instagram in particular has amplified an aesthetic which blurs the line between plastic surgery, editing and makeup, in turn entrenching this haziness into the minds of those of us who scroll. This
For the first time in history, more than half of Earth’s population is now using social media. DataReportal shows that social media usage has grown significantly throughout the last year, with users increasing by over 10%, taking the global total to 3.96 billion just at the start of July 2020. The question of whether this online space only benefits influencers seems, in retrospect of 2020, to be obvious to me: no. There are many reasons for this I could unpick, but two principle points come to mind. The first is concerned with activism. Throughout a year where most people were at some point shut indoors, the only window to the rest of the world for many was technology and the social media that accompanies it. Pex found that 80% of the most 100 watched videos on Twitter in the twelve days following the death of George Floyd were related to the Black Lives Matter
Does social media only benefit influencers? lack of transparency serves to bewilder, as followers spend an inordinate amount of money, time and energy to emulate the look of their favourite influencer. We are led to believe that we too can attain this sought-after aesthetic, if we buy this product, follow this workout plan, drink this detox tea. And as we click purchase, the influencers reap the rewards. The word ‘influencer’ carries with it some disturbing connotations. Whilst for these few, social media has offered a platform for their thoughts and opinions to be amplified, the majority of us submit to being ‘influenced’. Paying with our attention as we succumb to the addictive design of the algorithm, we are bombarded with the views of others as we scroll. This is bound to stifle individual thought and creativity, as we are presented with the opinions of others before we are able to form our own views on a matter. Slowly, not only do we begin to look like influencers, but to think like them too. Social media has unequivocally undergone a significant transformation since the carefree days of unedited feeds of Starbucks cups and #tbt. Whilst for a minority these changes have proven immensely beneficial, for most it has bred a culture of warped perception, comparison and perpetual striving to imitate another.
movement. Another 10% were related to the more broad scope of racism or racial content. That video, along with so many others last year, rocketed around the social media echo chambers of the internet; sparking international outrage and the largest demonstration in American history. Alongside BLM, social media has also provided a voice and momentum to other movements including Me Too, the body positivity movement and climate change efforts. For example, the instagram hashtag #sustainablefashion has grown in use on the platform by four times in Europe since 2015, and by six in the US. While a new wave of activist influencers have dominated some corners of social media more over the last year, arguments of ‘empty’ activism have been made, questioning the kind of virtuesignalling posts which have very limited real life impact. Despite this, the impact of influencers who engage in activism has had an observable impact, particularly within the last year on racism, sexism, diversity and representation, the climate crisis and more. Activism such as this benefits everyone, when it pushes for the enforcement of global human rights, respect and dignity amongst human beings. Surely
whatever can catalyse such a progress benefits us all? Perhaps not, when you look beyond the swanky brand deals stuffed into influencer feeds, and take a look at the impact on them behind the screens. Insider surveyed influencers and found that nearly half said their job impacted their mental wellbeing, and 32% said it cultivated negative body image issues. Influencer Agency’s 2020 survey polled influencers to find that the average time spend on their phones per day was just over 9 hours. Three quarters of each day. 3,285 hours per year. It’s been long proven that social media can and does have a detrimental mental impact on users, especially on Instagram with its keen design of addictive scrolling. The pressure to always be present online, producing captivating content, reaching the audience and maintaining peoples interest is not a small one. I personally don’t think I could give up my privacy in such an irreversible way, despite the seemingly glittering temptation of the ‘influencer lifestyle’, but for those who do, it’s not a path they can turn around and walk back down. This is certainly not a job which only benefits them. It would seem that this past year has certainly changed the way social media is used, absorbed and weaponized by our society. A new wave of younger people are dominating the airwaves in a way their predecessors simply didn’t have access to, and if you need more convincing look no further than AOC’s biting Twitter account. However, besides the (admittedly expected) mental health repercussions, and the strength of 2020 social media justice efforts, the pressure to be ‘woke’ now is also bigger than ever before. Cancel culture took on a renewed breadth of life in 2020, with notable campaigns on social media including the Chidera Eggerue and Florence Given debate. Others include YouTubers James and Myka Stauffer’s responding to internet backlash concerning the rehoming of their neurodiverse adopted child with a YouTube video and a four page Instagram statement. They have yet to return full time to their main online accounts. Long time ‘original’ YouTuber Jenna Marbles apologised for offensive and insensitive past content in June of last year and has not posted since, a self imposed ‘cancel’. The question of whether these people deserved their platforms is not one I am informed enough to answer, but social media is a very volatile world to make a career out of and not always influencer
The Badger 15th March 2021
Forget Meritocracy – Welcome to the Chumocracy Will Day Comment Sub-Editor When Theresa May delivered her “Britain, the great meritocracy” speech in 2016, she outlined the Conservative’s commitment to creating a fairer society. The then Prime Minister claimed, “I want Britain to be the world’s great meritocracy – a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow.” No longer would the Conservative Party give preferential treatment to those in the upper echelons of society. Instead, Britain would finally provide equal opportunity regardless of background; going forward one thing and one thing only would determine success, hard work. Success would no longer be determined by who you know, it would only be what you know and how hard you’ve worked to earn it. Britain would now be a country where everyone played by the same rules. Fast forward just a few years and the Conservatives are embroiled in a scandal that confirms what most of us already knew – meritocratic Britain existed rhetoric in only. Welcome to the Chumocracy. As Covid-19 sent the nation into lockdown the government scrambled to procure vital equipment for the NHS. This led to a significant departure in the usual process for awarding contracts with a “high priority” channel established as the government looked to secure equipment quickly. Companies could gain access to this channel through a referral from a politician or senior official. Companies given access to this channel were far more likely to secure contracts. In a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO), it was revealed that 1 in 10 companies that went through the high priority channel were awarded contracts compared to 1 in 100 companies not given high priority status. The NAO report revealed that £18bn coronavirus–related contracts were awarded during the first six months of the pandemic, £10.5bn of which were awarded without competitive tenure. In many cases, the watchdog found paperwork that denoted why companies had been selected was missing and there were instances of contracts only being drawn up after work had already begun. Obviously, this should all be caveated by the fact that this situation was one like no oth-
Flickr Commonwealth Secretariat er - some may even go as far as calling it unprecedented. As the deadly virus began to tear through the nation, speed was of the essence. These were not usual times – adhering to usual practices would have slowed the process significantly and placed the NHS under further risk. With the advent of this highpriority lane, the government could quickly and efficiently award contracts to companies best suited to provide the NHS with the equipment so vital to avoid further catastrophe. Naturally, one would assume that companies granted access to the high priority would be those with years of experience supplying medical equipment. The ones that hard work tirelessly to reach the top of their field and that were best placed to support the NHS at a time of immense pressure. You wouldn’t just give your mate from the pub with no prior experience a contract - right? What transpired was a scandal that showed a complete disregard for the lives of so many Britons, shattering any illusions that the Conservatives have ever really cared about the meritocratic ideal. Instead of identifying the best and most deserving many in the Conservative party sought to land their friends and associates a hefty payday. A New York Times investigation into the 1200 government contracts made public, worth almost $22bn, found that $11bn went to companies run by friends or associates of the party or with no prior experience in providing medical equipment, or countries with a history of controversy. Around $5bn was
awarded to companies with political connections to the party; some had former ministers or government advisors on their boards, while others had made donations to the party. Whilst companies with political connections were fasttracked through the VIP lanes, others, many of whom were vastly more experienced in supplying medical devices, got nowhere. Take the case of Multibrands International, ran by Rizwana Hussain. The British company, which had been producing PPE for China since the outbreak of the crisis, could provide the government with significant volumes PPE. However, without access to the VIP lane, Hussain spent months trying to contact the government through traditional channels without success. The failure of experienced companies like Hussain’s to gain access to contracts makes the Tory’s ostensible commitment to merit seem laughable. Companies like Hussain’s should have been given access to the high priority lane, these companies not only deserved these contracts through prior hard work and experience but would have been most efficient in providing the NHS with vital equipment. Instead, by dolling out contracts to friends and donors alike the Tories wasted public funds and showed a callous disregard for public life. Take Ayanda Capital, an investment firm whose senior advisor also advised for the Department for International Trade: for which Liz Truss is the minister. Due to their political connections, Ayanda Capital was awarded a contract to sup-
ply facemasks in a deal worth £155m. When the masks arrived, however, they did not match the current government requirements and were not able to be used for their original purpose. A waste of time and money that the public simply could not afford. With experienced and wellequipped companies continually ignored by the government, the Conservatives have made a mockery of the principle they’ve so desperately tried to convince us they adhered to. The Covid-19 has merely exposed a bleak reality, hard work and application don’t define success, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. From the Tory councillor awarded a £156m contract despite their company experiencing significant losses, to a former employer of a Tory Baroness winning an otherwise unadvertised contract just seven weeks after establishing their company - cronyism has been firmly engrained into the pandemic. When the country so desperately needed the best and brightest, many in the Conservative Party instead saw an opportunity to reward their friends and donors. Matt Hancock, the man who cares so dearly about the wellbeing of the nation that he openly wept (or at least really tried to) on national tv at the news of successful vaccinations. Now there’s a man who cares about the people. There’s no way he’d stand in front of the nation begging for us to obey the rules for our own safety whilst simultaneously endangering public lives by dishing out contracts to his vastly under-experienced mates - right?
In the toughest period for the country in a generation, Hancock has seized the opportunity to give his mates a generous payday. Alex Bourne, a former neighbour of Hancock and pub landlord in the minister’s constituency was awarded government contracts to supply the NHS with tens of millions of vials for NHS Covid-19 test kits in a deal worth roughly £30m. Bourne had no prior experience in the production of medical supplies - at the time of the contract being awarded his company was supplying the catering industry with plastic cups and takeaway boxes. Perhaps the most striking indicator of the staggering cronyism here is that Bourne landed this lucrative was via Whatsapp message. While Bourne’s lawyers have denied having a close relationship with Hancock, a close associate of Bourne has described the pair as “buddies”, claiming Hancock to be a regular in Bourne’s pub. There can be no doubt that the awarding of this contract was not due to merit. Bourne was not awarded this deal through hard work or competence in the field. Instead, public funds have been entrusted to an underqualified company due to its owner’s friendship with Hancock and maybe the odd free pint. Staggeringly this isn’t even the only cronyism-related scandal involving Hancock. A firm with direct connections to Hancock secured a PPE contract worth £14.4m. In recently published documents, the government revealed that a contract for isolation gowns was awarded to CH&L Limited last April. The company, which has no website, claims to a supplier of “human health activities” and is currently run by Frances Stanley. Stanley is a director of Newmarket Racecourse, located in Hancock’s constituency, and in 2019, her husband donated £5000 directly to Hancock’s office. It appears then that when Hancock heard Theresa May state, “I want everyone to have a fair chance” he interpreted that as everyone in his phonebook. As the country has faced its biggest crisis in a generation, the Conservatives have shown their hand. Their commitment to a meritocratic Britain was a misdirection, one that tried to convince the working class that success was possible, if only they put in a bit of hard work. Instead, it seems, if you want to be successful in Britain, getting Matt Hancock’s number is the best place to start.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Why podcasts are changing my life and how they will change yours Rosie Cook Comment Online Sub-Editor Just two people talking about topics. That’s all it is, but the tranquillity that this simple thing has provided me, is unmatched. When walking become the event of the day, sometimes this needed a little something to spice it up and podcasts became the answer to this. My relationship with the beautiful podcast began around this time last year, when I started running as part of my lockdown liaisons. Yet, because I am most certainly not a runner, I had found that when I listened to music I got to motivated to early on and therefore was close to collapsing only half-way in – not ideal. So, to moderate my fierce competitiveness, that just couldn’t help but rear its ugly head as soon as SHY FX came on, I thought I’d switch to a more wholesome listening, of podcasts. This is where it started, and I am so happy to say that podcasts and I are just going from strength to strength. Not only were they a perfect distraction for when I felt like my legs were going to fall off but in a time of absolute isolation, they became the conversation between friends that I was craving.
Casey Fiesler I started with the classic: Desert Island Discs, as my dad had always been recommending them to me and with the absolute infinity of episodes they had to offer, this settled me in nicely and became the backing track to my love affair with running (which safe to say, is not so harmonious as podcasts, far more toxic in my opinion; we’re currently not speaking). Something that was really comforting about my podcast romance was that, in a world where the noise of horrifying statistics seemed deafening at times, podcasts put all of this on mute and instead, put the friendly reminder that ‘we are all in this together’ on full volume.
As I go on my daily walk, hand in hand with my podcast, the claustrophobia of my own head leaves and I can laugh, cry and vigorously nod my head in agreement, to the comfort of someone else’s story, rather than my own. I must have looked slightly deranged to my fellow walkers as I laughed out loud and continued to mutter ‘oh my god’, ‘that is so true’, with my mouth wide open but podcasts provided me with such an intense feeling of relatability that I just couldn’t help it. Podcasts unapologetically exposed to me that no one really has any idea what is going on half the time and I found immense comfort in that. Even listening to people
whom I admire so much are still figuring it all out. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day has been a particular life saver with regards to this. As hinted at in the title, this podcast refreshingly talks about the absolute necessity of failure and how it has landed the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jameela Jimil and James Acaster exactly where they are today. Day interviews with such compassion that by the end of these episodes you feel like you’re best friends with everyone involved, and I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty happy to be best friends with the above three. Not only are podcasts the reassuring tap on the shoulder that everyone needs, but they are hugely educational and have switched on my brain in more ways than one. Adulting by Oenone Forbat has probably taught me more about the attitudes of the world than anything else. From consumerism, sustainability, mindfulness and just about everything in-between Adulting tackles the most relevant, possibly even the most difficult topics, yet weaves them into an easy to listen to conversation, between what always feels like, friends. Forbat asks her guests three things they wished they had learned in school and from this, erupts a plethora of worldly wisdom. It is no exaggeration to
say, that after listening to these podcasts I am a more wellrounded and well-informed individual, who looks at the world in a better way than she did before. Forbat interviews such a variety of guests, that every glimmer of human perspective is covered, with a word never left unsaid.
My relationship with the beautiful podcast began around this time last year, when I started running as part of my lockdown liaisons. Yet, because I am most certainly not a runner, I had found that when I listened to music I got to motivated to early on and therefore was close to collapsing only halfway in – not ideal. Podcasts have pushed through the clouds of my muddy brain this lockdown and welcomed in a light of clarity. The experiences, stories, laughs and education that may have been partially lost this year were rehabilitated and adapted in a new type of package. One that didn’t require venturing far and wide or travelling overseas but in fact, landed on my very doorstep and could fit into my very ear.
What does being a woman mean today? Lilah May McKim Growing up in a society, entrenched with the legacy and reality of the sexist regime of the patriarchy, I was taught that to be a woman ‘successfully’ (in line with the ideology of the patriarchy), meant to be pretty, non-intelligent, quiet, small, assigned female at birth (afab) and able-bodied. I was implicitly taught that to survive and succeed as a woman I would have to seek validation and approval from men. I still feel that I must act and look a certain way to seek validation from the wealthy, white, male elites that have control over the way I live, to have some power within their system. This is one form of power that being afab can have, conforming to the patriarchal ideal of a woman, but using it to gain power within that structure. Historically, ‘woman’ was a dirty word. To be a woman meant to be weak or pathetic, for instance phrases were em-
ployed when an individual was seen as weak: ‘you are such a girl’, ‘you big girls’ blouse’, ‘you’re such a p***y’. In some historical periods, and in some parts of the world, parents would despair if they had a daughter. It should be part of the modern feminist project to reclaim and re-define what it means to be a ‘woman’. The strict patriarchal ideology of women meant that limited access was granted for individuals to be a ‘woman’. Certain groups have been pushed to the side-lines of feminine identity and marginalized. For instance, trans-women were disallowed from the social category of what it means to be a ‘woman’. The arguments that were made about gay people denying their ‘biological destiny’ (to be heterosexual) are reproduced about trans people, (to be their sex/gender assigned at birth). However, this concept of biological destiny is really culturally defined destiny, naturalised in an attempt to force such in-
dividuals into the controllable, heteronormative and binary categories of ‘woman’ and ‘man’. For afab disabled individuals, being the idealised ‘woman’ is not easily accessible. The high standards of beauty and what it means to be ‘sexy’ for an ideological woman is physically demanding and thus can exclude disabled people from adhering to these conservative gender norms. I recently spoke to a disabled afab non-binary friend of mine, who argued that disabled people are sometimes more comfortable expressing themselves as non-binary because they can’t fit societal expectations of what it means to be a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’. Furthermore, disability culture is, in general, very antigender roles because afab disabled people can’t as easily perform household or emotional labour and amab (assigned male at birth) disabled people can’t as easily be the ‘breadwinner’. If you are already ‘weird’ in society’s eyes, there’s less in-
centive to perform cis (individuals whose gender identity matches their assigned gender at birth) and heteronormative roles because you’re never going to fit into those high standards. The inaccessibility of gender roles makes it much easier for disabled Enbies (a person who is non-binary) to embrace ourselves as non-binary. Regarding the relationship between class and gender, for upper-class women there seems to be more of an identification with their gender identity than their class identity, and for lower-class women there seems to be more of an identification with their class than their gender identity. This is likely because the ideology of a ‘woman’ is economically demanding. To look like the flawless women in magazines we are taught we must wear makeup, do our hair and wear fancy lingerie because they are the ideal we should be striving for, an expense that many cannot afford. I believe women have a duty
to support other disadvantaged groups because discrimination is intersectional: transphobia, racism, ableism and homophobia all benefit the wealthy, white, male elites, just as sexism does. If we support each other and unite it will make us stronger against the common enemy that aims to disadvantage us. It is both challenging and powerful, in a rebellious way, to be a woman (whatever that may mean) in a man’s world. It’s up to whoever wants to be a woman to define whatever it is for themselves. The truth is, it is impossible to define what a ‘woman’ is— it once was a restrictive and elitist socially constructed category designed to limit women, and maybe now it can be reconstructed as more inclusive. The category of what it means to be a woman is expanding as society is becoming more progressive in some ways, and it should continue to progress to allow anyone who wants to express themselves through the feminine identity to do so.
The Badger 15th March 2021
12 The monarchy has got to go
Issy Anthony Comment Editor Ah, the royal family. An institution so fundamentally British that even those republicans, like me, can name just about every member. We see their faces everywhere, from television and newspapers to cardboard masks and mugs. As I may have already made clear, I’m not a fan of them. It’s not simply the individual people, although I have to say, they do possess some less-than-honourable characters, it’s the principle of even having one. It’s so incredibly archaic, that sometimes when I spend more than a few minutes thinking about the concept it really shocks me that they still exist, and it feels like I’m living in some crazy dreamland where everyone just thinks it’s normal. You may think I’m overreacting, but let’s break it down. The original concept of the monarchy began with them as complete and utter ruling pow-
ers. While sometimes our government can seem completely clueless, they were elected, and can be replaced. But the monarchy has been in power since the 10th century, apart from when it was abolished between 1649 and 1660, as a result of Charles I governing without Parliament for over a decade. Other than this, we’ve had centuries of unelected people having complete, uncontested power, as a birth right. Sounds like a dystopian right? In 1689 that they started becoming figureheads, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that we began to establish a house of commons, allowing the common man to represent us. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve watched, or at least read about, Harry and Meghan’s interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey. While there was a lot in the interview to be discussed, the two most shocking allegations were that a member of the royal family expressed concerns
about Meghan and Harry’s unborn child’s skin tone, and that Meghan’s cries for help while struggling with her depression were repeatedly ignored. The first allegation has sparked outrage that the royal family is racist, but would it really be that surprising if they were? Gina Yashere, a British comedian, said in an interview with Sky News, ‘we knew that there was racism…all Britain’s wealth is built on the backs of colonialism and slavery and people theft, so why would people be surprised that it’s still trickling down’. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say people chose to be ignorant, to love the royal family because it was the British and patriotic thing to do. Now it’s time to wake up and realise that they themselves, and the whole concept of a royal family, is painfully outdated. As for Meghan’s mental health being ignored, I am again unsurprised. Harry’s mother, Diana, suffered from bulimia and depression, and many believe
the Princess was not given the mental health support that she so desperately needed. Coming onto the less-thanfavourable characters I mentioned earlier, I think no one will be surprised that I am referring to Prince Andrew, who has been accused of having sexual intercourse with an underage girl, at the behest of Jeffrey Epstein, who he befriended while being a working royal.
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say people chose to be ignorant, to love the royal family because it was the British and patriotic thing to do. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Queen’s cousin, the Earl of Strathmore, has just been jailed for 10 months for sexually assaulting a woman at his ancestral home in Scotland. There almost seems to be a pattern of abuse of power. So why, oh why, do we keep this family around? I’ve heard the tourism argument, and to
that I have to say, really? The UK, and London specifically, has a lot more to offer than the notion that the Queen lives here. Also, for anyone who has ever visited Buckingham Palace, as I once did as a bored 9 year old on my summer holidays, you’ll know that you cannot even see half the palace, as it’s occupied. I for one would only pay to go back if I could see the whole thing, like Versailles. And in 2020, the UK taxpayer paid more money to the royal family than we have ever done before, with it costing us £69.4 million. I would also like to take this moment to say that as of 2019, there were 4.2 million children living in poverty, and I think it’s far to say that that won’t have improved during the pandemic. I feel if I haven’t convinced you yet, then nothing will. But a family that has had allegations of racism and sexual assault against them, and a perceived history of ignoring mental health issues, is not one who deserves our respect, or our allegiance. The monarchy has got to go.
Are Vaccine Passports the future? Holly Tarn Amid reports that the UK is set to join Europe in the introduction of a “Digital Green Pass”, there has been backlash from some UK citizens who claim that any form of vaccine documentation is an impingement on their civil liberties. Here, I will argue that whilst choosing not to get a vaccine may well be a right, that travelling the world with a metaphorical loaded gun isn’t. The reasoning against vaccine passports is this: those that don’t have access to vaccines, or choose not to get vaccinated, should not have their travel restricted, as this is discriminatory. Let’s begin with those who choose not to be vaccinated. I’m referring here to those that either don’t believe in the harms of COVID, or don’t believe in the safety of a vaccination. It’s important for me to note here that I don’t believe that callously disregarding the opinion of people who are against vaccinations is productive to the debate. I also am aware that people who have made the decision not to vaccinate have done so in the hope of protecting themselves and their loved ones. Having said that, anti-vacci-
Marco Verch REUTERS nation arguments are at odds with empirical evidence. So without passing judgement or blame, I believe we can say that we know two things about this group of people: we know that their beliefs are contrary to proven science, and we know that their beliefs have the ability to harm themselves and others. Given that people who choose not to be vaccinated have the ability to harm others, should society be able to restrict their freedom of movement? In other situations, it is a societal norm to restrict people’s freedoms if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others (whether they intend to be or not).
We use a variety of safeguards to ensure everyone’s safety, such as restraining orders, and imprisonment. Of course, this type of action would not be appropriate in the case of people who chose not to be vaccinated, but restricting their movement, if it means halting the spread of the virus and saving lives, I believe is entirely appropriate. Some vaccine opposers say that it’s discriminatory to have to show documentation in order to have freedom of movement, but this is already the case in many situations. We use a passport at borders to identify ourselves; we use ID in a pub to show we are not un-
der 18; and indeed, we already use a ‘vaccine passport’ to show we have been inoculated against certain diseases, such as Yellow Fever. These are widely accepted as necessary safeguards to protect the wider community from actions of a potentially dangerous minority. But what about those that haven’t had the opportunity to be vaccinated? Let’s say in the summer Greece decides to open its borders to people with a vaccine passport only. Many people across Europe (mainly those that are young and healthy and so are lowest priority) may not have had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet. Is this unfair? Well in plain terms, yes. However, being fair isn’t what is always right. I believe that sometimes the greater good of your community, country and world should come before your individual needs. Although I am yet to have a vaccine and probably won’t for some time, I am more than happy to sit back and watch others holiday safely, whilst I wait my turn until I can travel safely. The other option here is to wait until everybody has equal access to the COVID vaccine, however, this may take quite some time and make an inevitable dent in the suffering econ-
omy of the European holiday market. If vaccine passports were to be introduced, it could unlock all sorts of activities that have been restricted by COVID – not only the international travel industry but also domestic activities such as concerts and festivals. This would not only be a boost for the economy but also for our mental health and social cohesion. However, this pro vaccine passport argument comes with some caveats. Firstly, it should come as secondary to regular and rapid testing, which has proven to be the most effective method of reducing community spread. Secondly, the government should simultaneously develop a framework of social inclusion (for example ensuring that everyone has the technology required to use their passport, and ensuring the minimisation of exclusions of certain minority groups because of unequal access to healthcare). With all this in place, I believe vaccine passports could unlock a world of freedom for the majority, whilst the minority of people yet to be vaccinated can sit back in the comfort that they are supporting their communities, whilst waiting their turn to do the right thing.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Cassius Gray: Big things coming Teddy Parkin, Features Online Sub Editor sits down with Cassius Gray to discuss all things music, mullets and meditation.
assius Gray. If you haven’t heard of him, this is likely to change soon. He embodies a refreshing energy in the UK HipHop scene. As a musician and rapper, he offers compelling lyricism and conceptual wisdom. Included in his musical range is a soulful eloquence, yet to limit him to these descriptions would be inaccurate. He is diverse. Exemplified by his current catalogue on Spotify. A growing collection of music that currently stands at just under 30,000 monthly listeners. He is a good friend of mine; brothers would be a more accurate portrayal of our relationship. I wanted to have a chat with him about his new material and what we can expect to see from him in the coming months. Throughout lockdown, Cassius worked hard, shedding out a plethora of tunes mostly unreleased. We also talked about his time indoors, how this has helped him with his music and a range of other topics including spirituality and his creative process more widely. His new song ‘cookoo’ is coming out on the 12th of March. As a fan of music, I truly recommend you listen to it. There is something special about this one. So, you have a new song coming out. It is called ‘cookoo.’ It is a song produced by my good friend ‘San Tino’. Shouts the kid. He’s singing on it too but it’s different, it’s not like anything I’ve done before. It’s electronic and garage. It’s in a league of its own if we’re talking just production. Structure wise its diverse, versatile, it comes like a real song you know.
100 BPM, or have a specific colouring. It can be whatever you make it. It’s meant to really encourage a creative f low because it’s about getting over perceived obstacles in your mind. Sometimes it’s cool for rappers just to do stream of consciousness but getting more precise you become more skilled for sure. Like storytelling that’s a great skill. Who is the best lyricist? I think Lil Wayne goes in. He’s a lyricist. The old school stuff. ‘Jay Z’, ‘Eminem’ and ‘Capital Steez’. I need another album before ‘Joey Badass’ goes in there. Top 5 rappers/rap groups of all time? ‘A Tribe Called Quest’, ‘Biggie’, ‘Mac Miller’, ‘Pro Era’ and of course ‘Kendrick Lamar’. Which spiritual Practice has stayed with you and resonated most with you in your life?
Cassius Gray helping me with that. That was different. A real collaborative effort because it was with a producer which I haven’t done as much before. How would you describe the difference of working with a producer than with a rapper or singer? They have a greater awareness of the final product of how they want it to come out and what they want it to sound like. They can edit and say do this there and completely change the direction of the track if they have good foresight with it. Maybe the difference between producers and rappers isn’t so certain, its more about the relationship and the energies between the two people. What is the conceptual meaning of ‘CooKoo’?
Cassius Gray Was there a different energy that you accessed because it is different to what you have done in the past? It was a different instrumental, a different canvas was given to me. The overall process was very similar. It was a bit more of a collaborative process than I’m used to. I was struggling with the bpm because it’s a garage tempo, like you really have to get it on point with the rhythm and ‘San Tino’ was
I’m going to let it speak for itself really. In my opinion its quite subjective, specifically with this song, because you could be going through a whole list of things. I guess the overall context is getting over something or getting through a barrier. It could be something you’ve gone through, but it doesn’t need to be boxed into a concept. Rarely I come to a song with a concept in mind but that might change as I become more lyrically able. Mainly I just go off the energy. Are there any processes that help you with writing when you’re struggling?
Currently I just look for beats and listen to new ideas. Going for walks is nice. Doing stuff that’s good for my vocab, reading is probably the best. Writing down your feelings without trying to rhyme them and then rhyming them.
So many. If I had to pick one, self-inquiry. That and the Dao. Those two are all I need. I’m not much of a meditator but maybe I’ll come back to it. Self-enquiry is kind of a meditation.
During lockdown would you say you’ve struggled or thrived? I’ve thrived musically. Definitely thrived. I’m not sure if its solely to do with the time I’ve had but there’s a lot of other stuff that’s gone on that’s allowed me to grow as well. There’s a lot of issues to be addressed when you aren’t going out and distracting yourself. A lot of bad habits came, good habits too eventually. Where’s your mind at coming out of this (lockdown) musically? What do you want to do musically? I’d like to delve into a bit more experimental things with my music. Do you remember we were talking about the limitation thing? Creativity is much more possible with limitations, like setting a theme, it’s something I’ve never tried. More music videos. Stuff like that. Tell me more about that limitation idea. It’s a cool concept. It’s the idea of setting yourself a task to create something but setting yourself a limitation. Like this song must be in C Major, or
Cassius Gray Skinhead or mullet? Mullet. Sage or Incense? Incense. Would you like to announce anything else coming out? “cookoo” coming out 12th March. Something coming for 4/20 and a collab coming in the next month or two. Another single to follow. Big things coming.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Dementia patients left vulnerable and alone Staff writer Ellie Harbinson discusses how the loss of social contact caused by the pandemic is impacting dementia patients. *Content Warning: this article contains themes of death*
magine a world where everything around you is alien, people you used to know, items in your home, your whole life becoming one frustrating blur. You wake each morning to a home which was once resonate with friendly voices and populated with familiar faces. You suddenly feel as if your surroundings are foreign, unsafe and frightening. You spend your days secluded from the world you have always known, alone and vulnerable, when all you need is company, a hand to hold and someone to talk to. For dementia patients, this loss of social interaction, over the course of the pandemic, has been an inexcusable catalyst for the rapid deterioration of vulnerable individuals.
For dementia patients, this loss of social interaction, over the course of the pandemic, has been an inexcusable catalyst for the rapid deterioration of vulnerable individuals. In September this year, The Alzheimer Society released a horrifying report; ‘Worst Hit: Dementia during Coronavirus’. They revealed that “over a quarter (27.5%) of people who died with Covid-19 from March to June had dementia”. These statistics are a serious indicator that more needs to be done for such a vulnerable group of people in society.
These statistics are a serious indicator that more needs to be done for such a vulnerable group of people in society. When speaking to Renata Pal, who works for the Alzheimer’s Society, she outlined the effect that the lack of social interaction, during the pandemic, has had on dementia patients. She worries that the cognitive functions and memory of those who remained at home are “definitely not the same”. Although she says, “Some people are still doing well which is good news”, she also highlights how “for a lot of people it affected them massively.” The Alzheimer’s Society has provided much needed support for the community and has luckily been consistently present for vulnerable people and carers through online platforms. Renata speaks passionately about Singing for the Brain, which is a social activity for patients to look forward to. It has luckily transitioned from face-toface meetings onto Zoom. There are also multiple chat platforms through the charity; Companion Calls, Talking
Pexels Point and Covid-19 welfare calls. This lack of social interaction for dementia patients, has been the key reason for their decline and, in many recent tragic situations, people have lost their lives, feeling alone and neglected. Natasha Newman, a carer from Bath, told me the heart-breaking story of a client and friend she cared for twice a week, before the pandemic. She was a sociable, bubbly lady who volunteered at a local shop and thrived on social interaction. Come March 2020, she was isolated with her husband, cut off from family and Natasha, leaving her mental and physical health to decline. Natasha states: “She became very poorly, stopped eating, low on mood, cried a lot. I was able to send her voicemails once a week as her eyesight wasn’t too good, so she was unable to see me properly on a video call. I had a call in May to say she was now in end of life care and sadly passed away two weeks later.” She strongly believes that “this could have been avoided if all of her social interaction weren’t stopped so quickly, all at once.”. When speaking to both Renata and Natasha, it was clear that more needed to be done for these patients when admitted to hospital, during the strict restrictions of the pandemic. As vulnerable individuals who have declined due to minimal social contact, being taken to hospital alone, is an extremely traumatic experience. Natasha conveys that changes need to be made to adapt to dementia patients in hospital; “They should never be admitted without a family member or carer being with them. It’s cruel and unfair. I don’t know why in these cir-
cumstances that they can’t have someone with them. We always talk about person-centred care. How can that be given when; hospital staff do not know the individuals” and the staff “may not be able to give correct advice”. She further talks about a patient of hers who had been admitted to the hospital three times during April through to June. Her time in hospital was a horrifying experience, as “She wasn’t able to tell the doctors what was wrong because of her dementia” which meant she was sent home three times with antibiotics linking her symptoms to a UTI.
Renata highlights a need for a better understanding of dementia in hospitals, but also focuses on how the government have increased a certain understanding on the situation, for
patients; “It is getting better and also the government and the councils are learning how to deal with things because at the beginning they didn’t know what to do – they wanted to save people, but on the other hand, if you have dementia, your emotional state and your emotional situation is really important. So they need to see their loved ones to be able to stay alive.” Among the unsung heroes from the pandemic are the carers who have also been impacted, throughout the pandemic, after becoming extended family to many patients. For many their job has become a 24/7 work day and understandably has taken a grave emotional toll on their mental health. Within the executive summary of the Alzheimer Society’s report, they state that “95% of carers in our survey reported a negative impact on their mental or physical health”. Natasha comments on her experience, “This pandemic has truly made my job very hard at times, not just for me, but for my clients and their families. I always give 100% when I am with my clients, but over the last 10 months things have been very difficult, sad and upsetting.”
Among the unsung heroes from the pandemic are the carers who have also been impacted, throughout the pandemic, after becoming extended family to many patients. However, she emphasised that she loves what she does and “Wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world.” Sitting down with my PG Tips during our third lockdown, I began to watch the news unfold yet again. As I listened to the devastating statistics reel out of my television speakers, I could not help but think about the millions of other people doing the same ritualistic activity as me, with their tea bag of choice by their side. I wondered how many of them have a relative who is a victim of dementia, or even suffers with dementia. I contemplated the vulnerable people watching the BBC news at 6, consuming the horrors of the world, whilst trapped from society. I felt pained by the stories I had been told from Natasha, of patients deteriorating, because they are unable to get their haircut at the shop down the road and individuals who have rapidly worsened, due to not being able to meet up for that weekly catch up with an old friend. After hearing how many dementia patients have been lost this year, it begs the question, have the government truly done enough to care for these individuals and their families?
The Badger 15th March 2021
In Longing Memory of Franz Kafka
Olly De Herrera Features Sub-Editor
The fight to bring peace to a man who chronicled fear
he mind and soul of the early 20th Century writer, Franz Kaf ka, have become perhaps the most highly coveted melancholy of the modernist era. The captivating contorted realms of Kaf ka have permanent hold over the literary world and beyond: worlds gripped by shrouded forces of authority, deep personal helplessness, and states of constant uncertainty that we all, if only for a short while, find ourselves in. To the world he is a literary giant, within himself he experienced low self-confidence, guilt, and was cripplingly shy—especially about his body. As a contemporary to the sociopolitical experiences that framed the works of Philosophers Marx and Durkheim, Kaf ka toiled with the troubles of a rapidly industrialising Europe not in political writings but within vivid literary realms. The psychology of his deeply complex personal struggles and traumatic relationship with his father are embedded into just 3 collections of short, unfinished, novels. The most famous, Metamorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into an unsightly insect who is mocked and ultimately forsaken by his family. The dream-like dystopian story of “The Trail” sees a man put on trial by an unofficial court for a crime no one will explain to him, after bullying and belittlement by authority he eventually resigns himself and goes quietly to be executed in a quarry.
Indeed, it is the debate about who gets to claim Kafka, not only in his work but the very consciousness of the man who bore it, that is perhaps the most relevant aspect of his legacy. The surrealist explorations of guilt, alienation, and oppression, combined with how little he wrote, has prompted academics and historians to debate hotly around the legacy of a man just as compelling as his work. Time itself has claimed Kaf ka, converting him into an adjective, “Kafkaesque”, so that we may all claim his perceived state of existence when we feel pathetic, ashamed, and bullied with no one to turn to. Indeed, it is the debate about who gets to claim Kaf ka, not only in his work but the very consciousness of the man who bore it, that is perhaps the most relevant aspect of his legacy. Kaf ka himself intended no one to be the keeper of his work, instructing that all his writings be burnt after his death. He wrote to his friend, a fellow writer and eventual keeper of his works, Max Brod: “My scribbling … is nothing more than my own materialization of horror,”, “It shouldn’t be printed at all. It should be burnt.”
Muzeum Franza Kafki When Kaf ka finally succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 40, Brod would not honour these requests and instead took them with him when he f led the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and emigrated to Palestine where he assumed the responsibility of publishing Kaf ka’s work. The manuscripts were then bequeathed to Brod’s secretary, Esther Hoffe, with instructions to give them to the “Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the municipal library in Tel Aviv or another organization in Israel or abroad” upon his death. By this time, as Brod has so hoped, Kaf ka’s work had gained international notoriety. In 2011 Oxford University and Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach (German Literary Archive) jointly purchased the letters and documents belonging to Kaf ka’s surviving granddaughter, Ottla, which has already been in the care of Oxford University for some time. In 2010 a bank vault in Switzerland which contained the remaining papers would be opened as part of a 12-year
wikimediacomms legal battle between Hoffe’s daughter and The National Library in Jerusalem to establish rightful guardianship of the documents. David Blumberg, Chairman of the National Library of Israel Board of Directors, stated: “For more than a decade, the National Library of Israel has worked tirelessly to
bring the literary estate of the prolific writer, composer, and playwright Max Brod and his closest friend Franz Kafka to the National Library, in accordance with Brod’s wishes”, he continued: “After seeing materials including Kafka’s Hebrew notebook and letters about Zionism and Judaism, it is now clearer than ever that the National Library in Jerusalem is the rightful home for the Brod and Kafka papers’’. Centring Kaf ka’s Jewishness in the debate about his literary and personal legacy may seem unexpected, none of his literary works contain the word “Jewish” and one could easily, and often does, read and understand his work with no knowledge of his background. So, to what extent is Kaf ka a Jewish writer? Biographically, Kaf ka’s Jewishness is obvious. He was born to a middle-class Jewish family and lived within a well assimilated and often successful Jewish community in Germany and wider Europe. Whilst Kaf ka was away studying Law in Prague, Sir David Solomons was serving as Britain’s first Jewish Sheriff of London after a change in the law not requiring political officials to swear on the Christian bible. Notwithstanding, the community suffered much of the antisemitism that underpins the Jewish experience in Europe and all his immediate family, including his 3 younger sisters, would eventually die in the Death Camps of the Holocaust. Though he was raised with little knowledge of Judaism, Kaf ka developed a profound interest in Jewish culture, writing extensively on Jewish mysticism in his personal diaries. Academics have commented on how Kaf ka’s literary themes and life experience ref lect greater themes of the Jewish experience. Adam Kirsch, author of the global novel: Writing the world in the 21st century, wrote in an article: “Kafka’s genius was to see that these Jewish experiences—what Balint calls his “stubborn homelessness and non-belonging”—were also archetypally modern experiences”.
Pavel Eisner, one of Kaf ka’s first translators, interprets The Trial as the embodiment of the: “triple dimension of Jewish existence in Prague ... his protagonist Josef K. is (symbolically) arrested by a German, a Czech, and a Jew. He stands for the ‘guiltless guilt’ that imbues the Jew in the modern world”. Kaf ka himself lamented on the tentative balance between a nationalist identity and a Jewish one. In his notorious diagnosis of the struggle of the German-Jewish writer, he wrote to Brod, “[The Jewish writers] live beset by three impossibilities: the impossibility of not writing, the impossibility of writing in German and the impossibility of writing differently, and we could add a fourth impossibility: the impossibility of writing at all”. In December 2016, Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Brod/Hoffe’s archive, including Kaf ka’s writings, were to be handed over to the National Library of Israel. Among the materials in Brod’s estate were several items of Kaf ka’s: postcards to family members and acquaintances, two written messages for Brod, a few pages with lists, and also an unfinished and untitled short autobiographical sketch, from 1909, that begins with the sentence: “Among the students who studied with me I was dumb, but not the dumbest”.
Whilst Kafka had so little faith in his writings, he believed that he had no purpose in life other than writing. Kaf ka suffered much pain in his life, not only from agonising tuberculosis, but also from the deep psychological strife that would go on to resonate with generation after generation of readers. One may be thankful that he died before he could witness the unfathomable horror that would kill 1/3 of Europe’s Jewish population, including most of his family, just shortly after his death. Whilst Kaf ka had so little faith in his writings, he believed that he had no purpose in life other than writing: “I am made of literature,” he said, “and cannot be anything else”. The retrospective success of Kaf ka’s work could be understood in different ways, perhaps as an inspirational metaphor for the resilience of the Jewish people, or simply a testimony to the shared characteristics of the human condition. Finding a place of resting for Kaf ka’s works and legacy seems to have been achieved at least for the foreseeable future, but finding a meaning is perhaps a more intimate and personal journey for those who find themselves somewhere ref lected in him. “A book”, Kaf ka wrote, “must be the axe for the frozen sea within us”.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Modern Mother’s Day Hanani Aslam
How Mother’s Day has become both a commercially and emotionally important day on the calendar
’m not a mum, but as the designated ‘mum friend’ of the group, my best friends wish me a happy Mother’s Day. It started out as a joke. A way to show their appreciation for all the times I looked out for them, made sure they were taking their medicine when they were sick, or left a glass of water by their bedside after a night out. Who a mother is can vary, but everyone has a mother. Someone who has cared for us, provided for us, helped shape our lives. Regardless of whether it’s because of genetics or the environment you were raised in, or even the ‘mum friend’ of your friend group, Mother’s Day is a day to honour these mothers. In the UK Mother’s Day – formally known as Mothering Sunday – falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. While Mothering Sunday has been celebrated since the Middle Ages, its origins were separate from the secular holiday we know today. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, where people would return to their mother church to attend a special service on Laetare Sunday.
Inspired by the success of Mother’s Day in America, Constance Adelaide Smith started the Mothering Sunday Movement. The secular (and incredibly commercialised) version of the day as we know it today was ignited in response to the American Mother’s Day, was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1908; she wanted to honour her mother and help reunite families who had been divided during the Civil War. Inspired by the success of Mother’s Day in America, Constance Adelaide Smith started the Mothering Sunday Movement. Now, the celebration has been fused with the Hallmark-cardgiving,breakfast-in-bed traditions of the American holiday, but it has retained its traditional name and date in the UK. For many, Mother’s Day is a time to ref lect and show gratitude to the women and mothers who have been mentors and caregivers. ‘I’ve had to have very long distanced relationships with my family so Mother’s Day is very meaningful,’ says. Afsha Jameel, a final year law and sociology student at the Univer-
The greeting card industry and other businesses thrive on extra sales of f lowers and gifts on holidays like these. Consumers spend for Mother’s Day in 2019 nearly reached the 1.6 billion mark. Jarvis, the mother of Mother’s Day resented the commercialisation of her idea.
By 1943, she was so concerned at the commercial takeover of her holiday that she got together a petition to rescind Mother’s Day.
Alana Harris sity of Kent. She moved away from the Maldives to the UK when she was 15 and has spent most Mother’s Days away from her family. ‘The distance has made me have an even greater appreciation for my mother and everything she’s done for me,’ she tells me. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, distancing has become the new normal. Like many others, Afsha is unable to visit her mum for Mother’s Day. Instead, she’s arranged for gifts to be sent and coordinated with her siblings to ‘spoil’ their mum.
Pexels ‘Everything is very much online, so there’ll be a lot of video calls. It’s sad that we won’t have the physical contact but the time we spend together will be the same in spite of the pandemic.’
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While often Mother’s Day is a celebration of the brilliant people who pushed children out of their bodies, it is also a day to appreciate and celebrate the other maternal figures in our lives. The grandmothers, stepmothers, the foster mothers, the mothers-inlaw, the godmothers – all of whom are equally important because the maternal figure can mean such different things from person to person. Afsha makes sure to wish her grandmother and aunts happy Mother’s Day because ‘they have that role in their
“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Ms Jarvis said. By 1943, she was so concerned at the commercial takeover of her holiday that she got together a petition to rescind Mother’s Day. Yet despite her efforts, Mother’s Day is here to stay. The holiday where you usually get together as a family for brunch or afternoon tea. But with coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures, many of these traditions will have to be postponed. Families across the country are finding other ways to spend Mother’s Day together even if they’re forced to be apart.
lives and are a mother figure.’ Though there is a Grandparent’s Day and an Aunt and Uncle’s Day, they aren’t as commercially successful as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
My own mother and I have our good days, where we get along and can bond with each other, and we have our bad days, where we make passive aggressive comments until one of us gives. Sometimes it can be easy to forget the people in our lives who care for and nurture us. We all have different relationships with our mothers. My own mother and I have our good days, where we get along and can bond with each other, and we have our bad days, where we make passive aggressive comments until one of us gives. It’s usually her that gives in and knocks on my door, cup of tea in hand, and we move past the fact that I forgot to do the dishes. Whether we have a strong relationship with our mother, only communicate on such occasions, or have sadly lost our mother, Mother’s Day can have a diverse plethora of meanings from person to person..
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The Badger 15th March 2021
Arts • Film & Television
Verity Spott: Poet, Performer and Brightonian Molly Openshaw Books Co-Editor Verity Spott is an alumnus from the University of Sussex and a Brighton based poet about politics and social issues. Verity co-runs the event Horseplay in Brighton which is a poetry and performance event. They also work as a commissioning editor for the poetry press Contraband Books. “Verity explains that they got into writing when they were a teenager. However, moving to Brighton in 2006 is what sparked their love for poetry. After years of writing Verity is now an established writer and has written poems including We Will Bury You, a poem calling out against the Members of Parliament who voted against the proposed end of the cap on public sector pay and details their deaths explicitly. “I wrote a lot of dreadful song lyrics as a teenager. I was lucky to have a really great English teacher at school who first sparked my interest in poetry. I started writing when I was feeling a little lost having newly arrived in Brighton in 2006. I wanted to share my poems with people so I started going to open mic nights, poetry events, anything I could find. It took me a few years to start writing things I’m now happy to call my poetry.” Verity explains some of their influences and role models being other poets and writers. One of her role models includes Keston Sutherland, a lecturer at the University of Sussex who has recently released his book Scherzos Benjyosos in 2020. “Seeing Keston Sutherland read at a Hammer & Tongue event in 2009 certainly changed the course of my writing. I’d never heard such a ferocious fucked up poetry reading. I’ve been in a dialogue with him and his work ever since. Other contemporaries such as William Rowe, Frances Kruk, Nat Raha and Sean Bonney have had a really important influence on my work. At the moment I’m obsessively reading the collected poems of Anna Mendelssohn which has just been published by Shearsman. I read quite anarchically. There are books I come back to and prod at. For ages, I carried around Julia Kristeva’s ‘Powers of Horror’. I’m currently obsessed with a set of prose poems written by the Chinese writer Lu Xun (1881 1936) collected as Wild Grass.” Verity explains that some of their greatest achievements so far has been the organisation of Horseplay, which is a regular event at The Black Dove in Kemp Town. As well as this, Verity describes that they are proud of how poetry has become their
occupation and that people read their work. “I’m just really happy that people read my poems and that they find their way into people’s hands. I consider poetry to be my occupation. I take it seriously. I love it more than I can say. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by poets and conversations about poetry. When I was first trying to find my way I was desperate for the kinds of interactions I have now. I’ve also been running a poetry night called Horseplay for fifteen years. I’m really delighted it continues to exist and that it acts as a strange little enclave for those that attend.” When looking at gender identity, Verity explains that they have conflicting ideas of gender and gender roles. Some of their publications have addressed the role of gender and the difficulties of not having a fixed black and white idea of gender identity. To Verity, writing has been a way of thinking deeper about gender roles and to work through these issues more. “I’ve no fixed idea of what my gender identity is anymore. I feel I’ve untied lots of knots, but more appear. Gender baffles me. It feels like a system of perimeters and borders, constantly acting to contain non-stable subjects. I know that’s a vague answer, but I’ve never felt less sure and I find some freedom there. That’s not to say the categories aren’t there, and that for many there is not the option of movement or fluidity. That’s just how things seem to be for me at this moment. I began to write about gender in 2011. That work is collected in my book Prayers Manifestos Bravery (Pilot Press). This work helped me to think through some of the difficulties I found personally and in the world. I am very much aware (and am often made aware) that there is a lot of prejudice against individuals like myself in society. That manifests as a street-level threat, day to day disdain, structural inequality and the weird carnival that gets
called “the trans debate”. I’m also aware that in the poetry world I operate in there are a bunch of folks across spectrums of destabilised gender, queerness etc doing really important work, and I am glad to be able to speak into that. There have been a few moments where people have tried to rope me into their events because they want to tick off some quota. I don’t like that. I’m not an example (and even less a good one!). Though I have written about these things I am not a writer who will make a career speaking about one subject. My gender expression is not my totality.” I asked Verity about their thoughts on the role of white straight males in the canon of literature and how, as an English Literature student, a lot of the authors we study fit this quota and sometimes it seems that women are weaved in only to tick boxes. I asked whether Verity believes that we can solve this issue and how it affects students. “I think about this a lot. It can be quite an uncomfortable topic. I think with any kind of canon it is important to see it for what it is: Why is it there? How was it established? To the exclusion of what/who? Let me say, though, that I am not going gun for destroying any canons. I think there is much more hope for different kinds of worlds in facing the realities of history and dismantling their many parts rather than chucking everything in the bin. When I studied at Sussex I felt I was exposed to broader canons than I had been previously, that’s not to say that there isn’t a hell of a lot of work to be done, but I found myself reading black radical literature, took seminars on queer writing and read the work of a great many poets I’d never heard of. I think this should be pretty basic stuff, and it isn’t in many places. There’s also loads more work to do. Writers get into conversations with other writers across history. I feel that far too many people follow the easy grooves and well-worn paths. I want to keep challenging my own emergent canons and would encourage others to do so. I’d also say be ready to question and challenge curriculums. Institutions are filled with arbitration and power structures that need to be bitten at, uprooted, turned upside down and shaken to see what might fall out. I find the idea of ‘diversifying’ a bit lacklustre too. It feels like it shares too much space with the language of workplace quotas. I don’t want to be reading a poet on a course because they are there to fill a quota. There are many incredible
underrepresented writers and I want to be reading their work because it is incredible and because the person presenting it to me (presuming an institutional setting) is passionately engaged with it. These things need to be deeply worked at not patched up with liberal sticking plasters. I feel as though issues around gender run all through society and we have to be sharp to them. That said Horseplay is regularly attended by people across different spectrums of gender and I can think of some magnificent performances that have celebrated, attacked and deconstructed issues around gender in all kinds of ways.” Having lived in Brighton for a while Verity describes how it is a liberal place but there are still ways in which Brighton can become more diverse. Having lived in Brighton since 2006 and studying at the University of Sussex, Verity explains how this influences their writing. “Brighton is a very liberal place. I question its diversity. It is a very white place. I know people of colour who have moved away because of this. I see the city as a diverse place in some ways but not in others. It has an incredible history with regard to LGBTQ+ culture. There are a great many cultural enclaves, but I think it is sometimes unconscious of some of the holes in its diversity. Things a lot of people don’t think about that often. Through working as a support worker and carer I became aware of how much of a nightmare this city, its venues, its shops and many of its public places can be for disabled folks. You often don’t see it until you’re shown it in some way, then suddenly you notice all these pointless little
steps on shop doorsteps, venues in basements and upstairs - the venue we run Horseplay in is a basement. We get that space for free. I’ve looked into accessible spaces. They are few and far between and many of them cost an awful lot. Brighton may be very culturally accepting in some ways, but there are still stories of pretty constant antisemitism. I’ve had to put up with nasty shit in the street. Many of my queer friends have. I love Brighton but I feel we can’t be complacent about these things. With regard to my own writing, I would say that living here has certainly affected it, as one’s habitation and local culture invariably does. I’ve not lived anywhere else as an adult. I am really lucky to be surrounded by people I love and to have cultures to work within that allow for certain freedoms with regard to things such as gender expression. As I said, I love Brighton, and though there are some problems as detailed above there are some rich and important cultural histories going on here, bubbling under various surfaces. I do wish the council would ban the ukulele.” As it is International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, Verity explains that they plan to celebrate this is the only way possible in lockdown. “I’ll be teaching on IWD, and I’ll be teaching on some women poets from the black arts movement of Chicago - Carolyn M Rodgers and Angela Jackson. Celebrating anything feels difficult at the moment. The first thing that jumps to mind is drinking an enormous glass of rum and blasting out some Alice Coltrane. Let’s go with that.”
The Badger 15th March 2021
Arts • Film & Television
Celebrating Women in Film and TV
A Month of Single Frames dir. Lynne Sachs (2019)
Jess Hake Arts co-Editor
A love letter to the extraordinary world of the late feminist filmmaker Barbara Hammer, Lynne Sach’s stunningly tactile short film is a celebration of the creative soul. Hammer reads from a diary she had kept in the 1990s while an array of nature images form the visual accompaniment, all arranged by Sachs to commemorate Hammer’s unique vision and talent.
In honour of ‘Women’s History Month’ we decided to pay homage to women that have helped shaped the Film and Tv landscape this edition. With words on Desiree Akhavan, Thelma Schoonmaker and Janet Mock we hope you enjoy!
Desiree Akhavan - words by Emma Norris
Desiree Akhavan is an American-Iranian film director, producer, screenwriter and actress. Best known for her film “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” a coming-of-age film about a young girl forced into conversion therapy, her work also includes the TV series “The Bisexual,” written, directed and starring herself, as well as “Appropriate Behaviour,” an account of a young, Persian woman and her struggles with cultural identity and sexuality. Her work is nothing short of extraordinary, each piece offering an entirely different but equally moving, and at times comedic, insight into life as a minority. What is most significant about Akhavan’s work is her opening up of conversations about female sex and sexuality; in each of her films, queer females are centred as protagonists. In a 2018 interview with the Guardian, she revealed that “the fact that the only mainstream queer female stories we’ve heard have been directed by men – that disgusts me.” Fuelled by this anger, she has successfully created some of the most authentic, intimate and taboo-breaking depictions of life as a gay woman within a society dominated by straight culture, making her voice heard in the still largely white, straight, male dominated film industry. Race and cultural identity are also significant themes in Desiree’s work; growing up with Iranian-immigrant parents who at first disputed her identity as a bisexual woman, her work offers an important insight into the complexities of cultural identity and the effects that they can have on one’s own life, living in an oppressive society that deemed her as “other.” Desiree Akhavan’s work is so important as it directly tackles and deconstructs societal norms that are so often reinforced in the film industry. She is completely unafraid of taboos and, in doing this, allows for underrepresented groups to blossom and have an authentic chance at representation in film and TV. One example of the difficulties Akhavan has faced in getting her stories told was her series “The Bisexual” failing to be picked up for American TV (it was eventu-
Available on MUBI
Vever ( for Barbara) dir. Deborah Stratman (2019)
Pinterest: @TheAtlantic ally commissioned by Channel 4 instead), serving as a reflection of how hard it is for minority voices to receive representation in the mainstream, even in the 21st century. In a world in which accurate female representation in these industries is so rare, people such as Desiree offer a much needed break from convention, placing women at the centre of their work and offering a space for genuine and unfiltered representation.
Thelma Schoonmaker words by Laila Rumbold Kazzuz
It’s fair to say that there are only a small handful of directors who have become true household names while also remaining a favourite among cinephiles. One director who has managed to tick both boxes is Martin Scorsese. But there is another crucial voice behind his creations that is still underappreciated. After a professor at NYU suggested that she help her fellow student Martin rescue his short film, which had been butchered by another editor, young film editor Thelma Schoonmaker went on to cut Scorsese’s debut feature film, beginning a historic creative partnership. Schoonmaker’s big break came with Raging Bull in 1980. A masterpiece in every sense, Raging Bull was prestige filmmaking and earned Schoonmaker her first Best Film Editing Oscar for what remains one of the greatest artistic achievements in film history, with its harshly poetic visual style that so vividly depicts the ugly mindset of its protagonist. Since then, Schoonmaker has edited all 22 of Scorsese’s subsequent features, including The Last Temptation of Christ, Casino, Gangs Of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf Of Wall Street,
and even the video for Michael Jackson’s Bad. Part of what makes Schoonmaker so underappreciated is our lack of understanding of how important the editing process is. Many great films are lost or found entirely at the editing stage. But Schoonmaker is also, like Scorsese, totally selfless; for all her technique she only seeks to serve the story being told. This selflessness extends to preserving the work of her late husband, director Michael Powell (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes). Schoonmaker is capable of creating moods as disparate as the cocaine fuelled paranoia of 1990’s Goodfellas, with Schoonmaker’s increasingly rapid cutting playing a vital part in upping the film’s tension, as well as her sublime work on 2019’s The Irishman, a film whose exceptionally mature artistry is complimented by its deliberate slow pacing. Schoonmaker understands that editing shouldn’t always be an invisible force, as some think. When asked “How does such a nice lady edit such violent films?” the grey haired 81 year old replied “Ah, but they aren’t violent until I’ve edited them.”
Janet Mock - words by Shae Man I’m sorry to say that I was only introduced to Janet Mock earlier this year, with the FX show Pose – in which she wrote, produced, and directed a significant part of the 3 season series, which depicts ballroom culture in 1980s and 90s New York. Pose pairs hilarious moments of unashamed over-the-topness with a poignant focus on chosen family, trans experiences, and the struggles around the HIV/ AIDS pandemic. Mock’s stunning work on the honest and often heart-breaking show deservedly won her a
Primetime Emmy, among other accolades. The show was also noteworthy for featuring the largest regular cast of transgender actors in TV history, including Indya Moore (they/them) as the sultry Angel, Mj Rodriguez (she/her) as sweetheart Blanca and Dominique Jackson (she/ her) as the iconic Elektra. With Pose, Mock made history as the first openly trans woman to write and direct a TV episode, and to secure a production deal with a major studio. But this is by no means the boundaries of her success. As well as Pose, Mock has written, produced, and directed several episodes of the drama series Hollywood, a revisionist take on the postWorld War II film industry, and Monster, an upcoming story about the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. She has also written two bestselling memoirs, Redefining Realness (2014) and Surpassing Certainty (2017), which speak to her tumultuous and inspiring journey as a trans woman of colour. Born in the early 1980s in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mock recalled knowing she was a woman from an early age, and began physically transitioning with hormones during high school. She chose her name Janet, after Janet Jackson – another icon. After moving to New York to pursue a master’s degree in journalism, she became active in her support for trans rights and dismantling the surrounding stigma. Nowadays, she is recognized for her passionate activism, such as creating campaigns like #GirlsLikeUs, in an effort to empower trans women. With every success, Mock is breaking down the harmful stereotypes that surround and endanger trans women of colour, and I hope you can find the beauty and honesty in her work as much as I have.
Also premiering on MUBI is another short film dedicated to Hammer, but one that is crafted on a much wider geographical canvas. Stratman takes footage shot by Hammer on a motorcycle trip she took to Guatemala in 1975 and combines it with the legendary experimental director Maya Deren’s reflections on 1950s Haiti. Two perspectives brought together in one visionary piece. Available on MUBI
Wander Darkly dir. Tara Miele (2020)
The inspiration for Wander Darkly came after director Tara Miele survived a car crash, and this is exactly where the story of her new drama begins. But when Adrienne (Sienna Miller) wakes up from the accident, she discovers that she is standing next to her hospital bed, looking down at her own dead body. This exploration of trauma and memory promises to be special. Available to rent via Amazon
Mouthpiece dir. Patricia Rozema (2018)
Adapting a stage play onto the silver screen is a risky business, but Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken appear to have pulled it off in style. With the helping hand of veteran director Patricia Rozema, the pair have successfully adapted their story of a woman making arrangements for her mother’s funeral to huge critical acclaim. The catch is that both Sadava and Nostbakken alternate in playing the woman, powerfully depicting her inner turmoil. Available to rent via Amazon
One of co-Arts Editor Robyn’s favourite films, this a modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma. A stylish, feminist and iconic masterpiece (with a sprinkling of Paul Rudd incest). It will leave you totally buggin’. Avaliable on Amazon Prime
The Badger 15th March 2021
Arts • Theatre
I co-directed a play over Zoom and it went like this Jessica Hake Arts co-Editor This term I co-directed a zoom play with Will Greensides. Being theatre editor and an actor in The Poorly-Written Play Festival last year meant that I already had quite a lot of excitement built up in regard to theatre when Will asked me if I wanted to get involved. Straight from the off something was different in regard to this play. Never before had I turned up to rehearsals only wearing a jumper and big blanket. Previously, having a constant cup of tea on the go with sporadic snacking of noodles was not a common activity in an active rehearsal. The Zoom fatigue that university has established meant that I was going into rehearsals already fed up and filled with irrational annoyance. Virgin WIFI did not help this. Directing is already quite an intense and tiring process without freezing in the middle of delivering a note to a struggling actor. I was extremely lucky that Will was able to help with this by consistently creating an environment of tranquillity and productivity,
with a few laughs (sometimes at my expense). Directing on zoom for the first time was … a challenge. It put into focus just how important the nuances and idiosyncrasies of each actor really is. You can’t just rely on facial expression or voice or movement. It’s a combination of all three, something I was aware of but Zoom brought a
magnifying glass to. Speaking from personal experience, if you felt as if one of those three pillars was failing you could almost overcompensate with the other two; however, when conducting a play on Zoom – this is not the case. Four Minutes Twelve Seconds focuses on revenge porn as the subject of the play, meaning it easily lent itself to the zoom
a video of him and his (ex) girlfriend having sex online and later being accused of rape. We, the audience, never meet the accused sexual predator but we do meet Cara, the ex-girlfriend. Although only in three of the eighteen scenes, we see a clear progression of the character. The initial anger, embarrassment and shame transitions to confusion, dissociation and defence and finally, a numbing acceptance. We see the mother and father confront each other and highlight their personal bias. We see the shift from emphasis on opinion, to emphasis on fact and reconsideration of the assumed ‘norm’. Overall, directing on Zoom didn’t fix my Zoom fatigue; however, did enable me to let the joys of Zoom enter my life. I would highly recommend getting involved with SUDS to any creative student either as an actor, director or member of the backstage team. Directing on Zoom was a fun challenge and although I’m glad that analogue life is resuming, I will always cherish the memories of turning up to rehearsals half-dressed and sipping red wine in a mug.
medium that was used. There seemed to be something awfully meta about creating a play completely online, about an online issue. In consideration to the recent discord surrounding rape culture, I believe that this play can act as a case study to highlight so much of societal bias and assumption. The play itself looks at the parents of a boy who is accused of posting
Theatres to be given 40 million in Arts Funding Support Elijah Arief Theatre Editor Arts sectors within the UK are to receive a share of an extra 400 million pounds as part of the governments arts recovery scheme which was announced as the government confirmed their new Budget plan for 2021. The recovery scheme is in place to help the arts industry recover after the devastating blows that the current COVID-19 lockdowns have dealt over the past year. The money is intended to go to theatres, museums, galleries and live music venues with the funding being given on May 17th at the earliest, which is when we can start to see theatres and live entertainment beginning to open houses once more. The Budget has detailed that £18 million of the budget will go to community arts projects and £77 million will go to the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to provide support for the arts sectors in those industries. The Arts Budget is also keen to give £150 million to local community ownership funds, in the hope that local communities will use their budget to fund theatres, music venues, sports clubs and pubs. Rishi Sunak says the arts and culture sector will be a “significant driver” in the
reopen again. Those within the Arts Industry are also conscious of the fact that there is no insurance back up should these plans fail, and many are hesitant to take such a huge financial risk to reopen only to go back into another lockdown weeks later. Furthermore, the lack of insurance has meant many producers are struggling to put performances on and are concerned about the reopening of theatres without it.
Flickr: Kevin Jaako UK’s pandemic recovery. According to Arts Council England, the Arts Industry brings in £8.5 billion to the UK economy each year, so the investment into the UK’s arts economy is a worthwhile investment. Though the government announcement has been welcomed by many, there are some who are criticising the scheme due to take place in May.
Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming stated “What we know so far suggests more for some bosses and buildings, but not for the artists, entertainers and communities” The biggest criticism here is that many are worried that the big venues and names will get the financial support needed, but individual artists themselves and communities will not receive the support they need,
as the government is yet to make any announcements about individual artists receiving any financial aid. Many artists and those working within the arts sector are requesting that the government extends the furlough and SEISS (Self Employment Income Support Scheme) schemes to prevent them from redundancy and help them find their feet when the industries begin to
The biggest criticism here is that many are worried that the big venues and names will get the financial support needed, but individual artists themselves and communities will not receive the support they need, as the government is yet to make any announcements about individual artists receiving any financial aid. Theatre leaders have been urging the government to give the sector more support, as a lot of what the government has been promising feels very rushed and there is a lot of confusion about how the government’s plans will unfold themselves come May 17th when the theatre industry can expect to open their houses once more.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Arts • Music
Sea Shanties for Gen Z: A TikTok revival An interview with Nathan Evans Dylan Bryant Music Editor The past year has served up some rather bizarre stories, both good and bad. But one thing that we definitely didn’t see coming was a postman from Scotland who’d see his rendition of the sea shanty ‘Wellerman’ reach the top of the charts! Nathan Evans has gone viral through the social media platform ‘TikTok’ and the sea shanty in question, has gained traction from the BBC and racked up over 60 million streams on Spotify! Nathan has even been spotted by music legend and rock band Queen guitarist Brian May as well as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. With the detrimental effects of the pandemic, it’s been harder than ever for new artists to expand their following; but is social media the answer to growing a fanbase? I spoke to Nathan about TikTok, sea shanties and what it’s like succeeding in such unusual circumstances and started by asking him : ‘Where did it all start and what was the idea behind it?’ ‘It all started back in July last year when someone left a comment under one of my videos and requested the sea shanty ‘Leave Her Johnny’. So, I went away and listened to it, learnt it and uploaded it. The recep-
tion was amazing and so I got more requests for different sea shanties which I put into a list. I was working my way through this list and then in December along came ‘Wellerman’. ‘The origin of sea shanties is that sailors sang them as work songs in order to stay positive. Do you think it’s reminiscent of what’s going on with lockdown and staying positive?’ ‘Definitely, I think it’s played a massive part in the success of it. The way the song was used back then was to keep people happy, smiling and keep the moral high. I think it’s taken that and used it in 2021 which has been amazing. ‘You’ve gone from being a postman in Scotland, to being at the top of the charts! Has it all sunk in yet?’ ‘No! - it’s very surreal and it’s been absolutely crazy. But it’s been some journey so far and I’m just loving every minute of it. ‘There are now over 1.6 billion videos under #seashanty and you have the likes of Brian May getting involved. What’s it like being such a big influence when you’re only at the start of your own music career?’ ‘It’s crazy. I get people messaging me saying I’m an inspiration, but really, I just sit in my room and make videos; that’s it. Anyone can do it – from your
phone sat in your bedroom.’ ‘Obviously, the music industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, and it’s been harder than ever to break through for new artists! How important do you think the role of social media is for musicians these days in getting themselves heard?’ ‘I think it’s been amazing for people. It’s been such a difficult time and with everyone stuck at home. I imagine there’s been a massive surge of artists using social media and ‘TikTok’ in general. It’s been an amazing way for people to be seen. ‘Top of the UK charts, millions of streams, record deal! What’s the plan from here? Is it strictly sea shanties or is there more to come? ‘No – I write my own music. I’m focussed on doing that at the moment. For people watching my content before, it’s been covers, originals and some sea shanties. I think going forward I’ll carry on doing that as I think why fix something if it’s not broken.’ ‘Who are your creative influences when it comes to song writing?’ ‘Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Anne Marie – I love the whole singer songwriter and story telling thing. I like the idea of blending pop and folk music, so
Instagram: @nathanevanss.ig that’s where I see myself.’ ‘Do you have any advice for other up and coming artists trying to break through in such difficult circumstances?’ ‘Just be consistent. Always upload and stay relevant. It’s so important to keep your name out there with fresh content.’ ‘Can you tell us a bit more about the UK tour?’ ‘So we’ve got the UK tour – Dublin, Manchester, London and Glasgow. We’ve just sold out Glasgow this morning and announced a second show. And then hopefully an album by the end of the year and a couple of singles before then. So, it’s all looking very good!’
‘That’s amazing! One final random question, following on from the theme of sea shanties - If you were to name a ship what would you name it and why?’ ‘It’s funny because my father in law has a small boat which can probably fit about one person in it! On the side of it is written ‘I’m Awa’ which in Scottish means I’m away. I think it’d be quite cool if I had a big ship and had that painted on the side.’ It was great catching up with Nathan over zoom. He’s a really nice guy and I wish him every success. If you haven’t heard him yet, give him a listen – I guarantee you’ll be singing along before the end!
Black Honey’s Izzy B. Phillips discusses upcoming album Alice Barradale Music Editor The Brighton-based indie rock band ‘Black Honey’ have announced a headline UK tour for their brand new album ‘Written & Directed.’ Set to land March 19th, just over two years after the release of their self-titled debut, ‘Written & Directed’ depicts a quintessentially Black Honey feel, but with a fresh and evolved essence. With a nod towards the band’s love for all things Tarantino, the album portrays a nuance of heavy-rocking instrumentals with a splash of female empowerment, a much-needed message within an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry. “The main theme of the album is cinema, so when we were making it we were like
okay, what scene of what song would this be in and what’s the setting here...it would be rude not to call it Written & Directed because it just felt so right...”
The album’s punk-rock attitude is contrasted with its Hollywood allure, combining their influences of “Lou Reed, Blondie, and 60's psychedelics that all converge into one chaotic experience of noise.” Speaking over Zoom on Wednesday, Frontwoman Izzy B. Phillips explains that she wants “young identifying women to feel invincible. I want them to get on the school bus in the morning and think I’m going to kick some ass today, then come back home listening to [the single] Gabrielle and feel as though they’re in a film
noir!” The album’s punk-rock attitude is contrasted with its Hollywood allure, combining their influences of “Lou Reed, Blondie, and 60's psychedelics that all converge into one chaotic experience of noise.” The album’s lead single ‘Run For Cover’, co-written with Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr, centers around the complexities of sex from a man’s perspective whilst flipping the gaze from male to female. Interestingly, the track was in fact intended to feature on Royal Bloods’ own upcoming album, Typhoons. However, the track itself fits seamlessly within the Written & Directed album, making this a great addition to the record. Whilst speaking to Phillips regarding new female artists entering the genre of rock, she emphasised the importance for upcoming female musicians to
“do your research and try to learn as much as you can about the industry... believe in what you can offer, the vision, and what you can create.”
With a nod towards the band’s love for all things Tarantino, the album portrays a nuance of heavy-rocking instrumentals with a splash of female empowerment, a much-needed message within an overwhelmingly maledominated industry. Although the future for liveevents is teetering on unsteady grounds, Phillips revealed to us that a live-stream may be in the works; “There’s a strong fatigue around [streamed events], a proper live stream is something we do want to do and we do have a few things planned.
I know that some people bought tickets to go see Frank [Carter & The Rattlesnakes], in a world where our main art form has been torn away from us, I respect anyone that wants to try and maintain that in some way. It’s definitely not the same though, it’s a really big operation to try and get something sounding f*cking good and looking f*cking good with no technical hiccups.” Black Honeys’ new album ‘Written & Directed’ is fearless and daring, perfectly summarising the band’s new spirit and direction. Empowering women in rock is a paramount objective within a male-oriented industry, where Black Honeys’ unashamedly outspoken style will undoubtedly inspire women to “find themselves and dump their boyfriends.”(NME)
The Badger 15th March 2021
Arts • Editors’ Choice
21 Editors’ Choice
Editors’ choice is a column in which the Arts Editors have both the platform and opportunity to share what we are engaging with from the world of the arts. We wanted to create this section so that we are not only being the Arts Editors this year but also have the chance to write as well. We hope you shall discover some up and coming events, ideas, artists, productions, musicians and texts which may peak your interest, as we share what has caught our eye as well as getting us thinking about the events, new releases and ongoings from within the arts. For our first article we wanted to share some of our all time favourite texts; movies, books, podcasts, artists, albums, magazines, social media accounts and our cultural highlights, as a way to establish this new column and also share the types of artistic media we consume and enjoy. Robyn Cowie Arts Co-Editor
Jessica Hake Arts Co-Editor
Chick Lit is a term in the book world, which historically when used is never deemed as a compliment. Instead it is a term which implies being of low culture, light amusement and literary fluff. The definition of chick-lit is simply books which either appeal to female readers or consists of “heroine-centered narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists”. The genre addresses issues of modern womanhood; relationships, the world of work, motherhood and female friendship. Often not considered worthy of the respect and reputation which other forms of literature can garner. And this is all despite the fact that ‘Chick Lit’ is one of the most popular and financially successful in the last few decades. The reclaiming of Chick-Lit, is something which is necessary, how can it still be okay for cultural items which are created to apples to over 51% of the world population, still have lesser status. Popular chick lit novels have gone on to be some of the most successful cinematic and television ventures in recent times. Both Chick lit and Chick flicks dominate their respective artistic spaces, they are still extremely popular, have been able to evolve over time to be far more current, inclusive and progressive, address important societal issues head on and all whilst continuing to inspire their readers/viewers. But that is still not deemed as meaningful or impactful, as at its core this is a genre often created by and created for women, over half of the world’s population, but that statistic is not enough for female orientated creative ventures to be given the credit they are due. Enter Sentimental Garbage, a podcast hosted by Caroline O’Donoghue, who each week is joined by a guest to discuss and devolve a guilty pleasure chick lit text. From The Devil Wear Prada, Crazy Rich Asian’s, Bridget Jones’ Diary, High Fiedelity and The Virgin Suicides. In the hope of discovering “what makes chicklit tick, and investigate why it’s so often overlooked”. This podcast is helping to reclaim the chick lit genre and offer it the time and space for it to be analyzed as the respectable creative genre that it rightly should be. It sucessfully validates thoughts you have had when trying to enjoy this seemingly lower brow genre. The show had a myriad of well respected guests, who along with Caroline do a deep dive in classic chick lit texts. With the crux of the whole show being to recognise the mastery of these texts and of this genre. The podcast goes from witty
I was going to write this edition of The Badger on a similar theme to Robyn’s, talking about chick-lit and heralding The High-Low podcast, hosted by Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton as the beacon of light on dull days. But then, this week, something happened. I think it was Wednesday that the news ran a story on Sarah Everard and Instagram suddenly became awash with infographics about the reality of being a woman. How Sarah Everard’s story, whilst heart-breaking, is the reality of being a woman. The fear and the worry and the little things we constantly do because what happened to Sarah Everard is a valid possibility that lives rent free in our brains. The executive director of UN women UK has declared sexual harassment a “human rights crisis” in the UK after it was revealed that 97% of women aged 18 – 24 said they had been sexually harassed, with 80% of women of all ages saying that had experience of sexual harassment in public spaces. It’s been a tough week. It led to a nihilistic spiral. And not an optimistic one. What is the point? I’m afraid to walk alone at night but it isn’t that that’s the only time I’m afraid. I’m more afraid to walk home at night then during the day. If I think about how many times I talk on the phone, the reality is that the majority of the time I’m faking it (something I’m usually quite against). Usually when I speak on the phone it’s a one-sided conversation that I have when I’m walking alone in Brighton at night. I walk past other women who’re on the phone and think “I wonder if there’s someone listening on the other end?”. Every infographic that gets shared on Instagram is a trigger. Reminder of the reality of trauma. Every post saying that they’re “shocked” about how many women have experienced sexual assault I wish was met with some sort of emotive response, but I’m angry. Every woman I know has experienced it, I have experienced, nearly every man I know has watched me or someone experience it and the chances are that my little sister who is currently sitting in her room reading Jekyll and Hyde for her required GCSE readings is going to get sexually assaulted. So, that’s it. I’m done writing for now. I’ll leave you with a poem from Yrsa DaleyWard on sexual assault, bone.
humour to very sincere discussion as to why books such as these are undervalued. O’Donoghue simply puts that this disregard of this genre is down to sexism and the power of marketing, which had left Chick lit as simply something for women. It is trying to change this stereotype by offering a place for thought provoking, enlightening and charming discussions about the importance, impact and messages of books which have been shutdown so easily for being based on the female experience.
The genre addresses issues of modern womanhood; relationships, the world of work, motherhood and female friendship. Often not considered worthy of the respect and reputation which other forms of literature can garner. And this is all despite the fact that ‘Chick Lit’ is one of the most popular and financially successful in the last few decades. The latest series of Sentimental Garbage, has taken a slight detour from its literary canon, and is instead Sentimental in the City. Caroline is joined by bestselling author, agony aunt and podcaster, Dolly Alderton, where the pair break down season by season the ‘great American novel’ that is Sex & The City. The extensive episodes breakdown everything; from what is problematic, the best male character of each season, the best outfit, what the purpose of that particular season is, what Carrie’s biggest faux pas of the season was. As well as what that particular season says not only about modern womanhood when the season was released but also discussing the cultural impact and also backlash which occurred in tandem with each other throughout the programmes airing. This has been a real tonic for me in the month or so, helping me on my daily works and making my staying at home far more humours, thoughtful and enjoyable. As well as making me re-evaluate how I myself acknowledge a genre which is worth far more credit than it both currently and historically has had.
bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward From One who says, “Don’t cry. You’ll like it after a while.” and Two who tells you thank-you after the fact and can’t look at your face. To Three who pays for your breakfast and a cab home and your mother’s rent. To Four who says, “But you felt so good I didn’t know how to stop.” To Five who says giving your body is tough but something you do very well. To Six Who smells of tobacco and says “Come on, I can feel that you love this.” To those who feel bad in the morning yes, some feel bad in the morning and sometimes they tell you you want it and sometimes you think that you do. Thank heavens you’re resetting ever setting and Resetting How else do you sew up the tears? How else can the body survive?
ARTIST T H E A RT I ST S
Artist Focus: Hannah Shillito Words by Luisa De la Concha Montes I remember how, during the first lockdown, the rainbows on the windows made by children to support the NHS were a warmth reminder of how art was being utilised to create a sense of community. Such is the case of Hannah Shillito, who not only re-discovered her love for painting during lockdown, but she also created a colourful project titled “Brighton Girls” that pushes the boundaries of community-led projects by looking at the extraordinary lives led by women living in Brighton. In this interview, we discussed how the idea of girl power feeds into her art, how she’s supporting the Survivors Network, and her upcoming projects. Tell me a bit about your background. How did you decide to get into art? I’ve done a bit of photography and writing before, but I only properly launched my art career during lockdown. My dad didn’t want me to go to art school, because he believed that I should do an academic subject, so I studied Art History instead. However, I always loved the idea of being an artist; I just didn’t have the confidence to dedicate myself to it full-time. It has been since doing the “Brighton Girls” project that I have developed my confidence, and it has become a business. When I started doing it, I never expected that people would like my work this much, so to know that all these women, inspiring women with great stories, are supporting me has given me a boost to realise that people do like my art. Art is so subjective, so to have all these people liking it and asking for more of it just gives me the inspiration I need. Before this, I didn’t have the confidence to call myself an artist. So, it’s really exciting to be able to finally realise ‘oh, yeah, I am an artist.’ Tell me more about you “Brighton Girls” project, how did it come about? We were in the third lockdown, it was the start of the new year, and everyone was feeling rubbish because of the weather. So, I wanted to create a project that injected colour, boldness and happiness into people’s lives.
Before the project, I was getting most of my inspiration through Instagram, however, it suddenly dawned on me that I live in Brighton, which is home to some of the most colourful, different, arty and unique people in the world. So, I decided that I wanted to find some ‘muses’ to get inspired outside the online landscape. To do this, I published a post in the community Facebook group “Brighton Girl”. The response was amazing. I ended up drawing over a hundred women. And I really got to know them through that, making loads of friends, which was so important to me. I am not pretending to be Monet or Van Gogh, or anything like that, I know there are better artists than me, but I wanted to create a project about community, and making people smile. Most people have never had their portrait done, so it’s also a feel-good transaction in a way. The main attribute about this project was that a community was developed out of it, but also, since the women I drew aren’t famous, it’s a project that is about celebrating how ordinary women can also be extraordinary. We all got this joy, and colourfulness inside us, but sometimes it just needs tapping into. As part of the project, you are raising money for Survivors Network, why was this cause important for you? One of the women I drew works at Survivors Network, and she told me about her work, and about the things she does. Her story really touched and inspired me, so I decided to raise funds for this cause through the exhibition. Sadly, during lockdown, the cases of sexual abuse and domestic abuse have increased. Moreover, charities are not people’s priority at the moment, understandably, but I do think it’s important not to let these charities go when they do such an amazing job. In your work, you explore the idea of femininity. How have your own experiences as a woman inspired this stylistic choice? Girl power is very important to me. As a teenager, I went to an allgirls school, and I also teach in an all-girls school. I’ve also been all over the world volunteering with women and girls from Pakistan and the Himalayas. Through that, I’ve met inspiring women who have been through difficult situations. I also have a baby daughter. So, to me, women are just incredible and inspiring, and when we join forces, we can do great things, so that idea always feeds into my art.
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The Badger 15th March 2021
O F B R I G H TO N
Stylistically, I also prefer to draw women, as I just feel they are more interesting to draw. It may be because society allows women to explore their style more than men, through makeup, jewellery and bold clothing, which lends itself well to the type of art I do. I have drawn men as well, but they tend to be either transgender, transvestites, drag queens and queer men – so their identity also explores femininity in a way.
Where do you source your inspiration from? There are some Brighton artists that are amazing. I love Bella Frank’s and Margoin Margate’s work. From what I can read and gather, the art world is changing so much because it has transitioned to Instagram, which is making it more open for people like me to partake in something that used to be ‘pretentious’ and inaccessible. It’s really lovely that the everyday person can now belong to this world. Head to our website to read the rest of the interview.
Contact us at: email@example.com
To see more of Hannah’s work... Instagram: @hannahshillito.art Website: www.hannahshillitoart.com
The Badger 15th March 2021
The Badger 15th March 2021
Travel & Culture
Death in paradise: On location Travel and Culture Sub-Editor Bryony Rule reflects on the exotic backdrop of BBC’s recent true-crime drama ‘The Serpent’, which chronicles the sinister exploits of serial killer Charles Sobhraj. Bryony Rule T&C Online Sub-Editor When the BBC unveiled The Serpent on New Year’s Day, it quickly became a triumph. This dark drama is based on the true exploits of the murderous Charles Sobhraj, who left a pathological trail of painstakingly concealed destruction along the South-East Asia hippie trail in the 1970s. The series serves as a tribute to Sobhraj’s many victims, whom he befriended before manipulating, robbing and killing. These travellers had set out with hopes and dreams, seeking different experiences and enlightenments from their journeys: we watch young westerners striving to liberate themselves from the throes of modern society through dedicating themselves to religion. We glimpse the unique friendships that are formed between strangers at a hostel check-in desk, or on a dilapidated bus creaking from city to city. We observe youthful couples with a thirst for adventure, seeking lives of jubilation and spontaneity. Eyes glued to The Serpent from my sofa, curtains pulled against the swollen grey clouds of an overcast British winter, I find myself daydreaming about three years earlier, when I had witnessed the vibrant, intoxicating locations featured in The Serpent first-hand. In a time where the prospect of travel to faraway lands is impalpable, BBC’s drama
provided a vehicle of escapism from the realities of lockdown; a burst of colour, noise, and nailbiting tension to pierce through the monotonous rhythm of daily life which we have now become so accustomed to.
In a time where the prospect of travel to faraway lands is impalpable, BBC’s drama provided a vehicle of escapism from the realities of lockdown. The Serpent was at times unbearably tense, slowly unravelling the trail of horrors that
had transpired nearly five decades prior. Alongside the masterful delivery of the gruesome story of psychopathic Sobhraj, dubbed ‘the serpent’ for his guileful ways, the show succeeded in portraying an entire milieu, that of 1970s traveller culture. It so expertly captured the essence of life on the road, the yearning for new experiences, the affinities formed with others met along the way. Though primarily conveying a chilling story of lives heartbreakingly lost far too soon, The Serpent also tells a tale of common human experience. Although the world has changed markedly since Sobhraj’s murderous reign, the sentiments of travel have not. Young travellers, brimming with ambition and restlessness, continue to flock to the well-trodden path of SouthEast Asia’s hippie trail, shadowing the decades of nomads who have gone before. Watching the streets of Bangkok unfurl on the television screen from 6,000 miles away, I can almost feel the humid city air, heavy with anticipation, possibility and experiences waiting to be uncovered. I can hear mopeds whining past, weaving between street vendors offering their wares, 50 baht for a bowl of Tom Yum, 20 for satay. These scenes perfectly capture and bottle the feeling of a day in Bangkok: the hustle and bustle, people moving about their daily lives, never too busy to offer a smile. The atmosphere pregnant with new sounds, sights, smells. The cinematography is exemplary; snippets of archive film footage,
illustrative of the 1970s hippie trail, transition seamlessly into shots of Sobhraj and his accomplice Marie-Andree Leclerc (played masterfully by Tahar Rhaim and Jenna Coleman, respectively). There is no shortage of beautiful scenery in The Serpent; breathtaking Nepalese mountain ranges, the impossibly grand Wat Pho Temple and Kashmir's tranquil Dal Lake reignite in me the breathless feeling of setting eyes on such awe-inspiring sights for the first time, vistas that seem unimaginable beyond the pages of a travel brochure. Times have changed significantly since the epoch of Sobhraj’s prowling of SouthEast Asia, and yet, many things seem the same. Thankfully, owing to modern technology and instantaneous communication, it would be impossible today for missing travellers to go undetected for as long as those who crossed paths with Sobhraj in the 70s did. In spite of patent
architecture on the riverbanks may have evolved since Sobhraj cruised down the Chao Phraya, the feeling of gazing at Bangkok from a colourfully adorned water taxi, mid-afternoon sun beating on your skin, is much the same. The Serpent builds a window into the city that never sleeps, a place that welcomes you with open arms and pulls you right into the centre of its vibrant spirit, painting a picture of the richness of each thread woven into the tapestry of daily life in Bangkok.
The Serpent builds a window into the city that never sleeps, a place that welcomes you with open arms and pulls you right into the centre of its vibrant spirit, painting a picture of the richness of each thread woven into the tapestry of daily life in Bangkok. Though some may see the subject matter of The Serpent as a foreboding deterrent to
changes in the stretch of time between the period laid out by The Serpent and my own experience of its backdrop almost fifty years later, I am struck by how familiar it seems. Whilst the city has modernised and spiralled out in all its colourful, intoxicating glory, the heart of Bangkok beats the same. It is a city of juxtaposition. The whirlwind of chaos, energy and hedonism is punctuated with pockets of oasis, captivating temple grounds offering moments of tranquillity. Although the
donning a rucksack and seeking adventure across continents, through the cracks of the horror story, I see an alternative message. It is a testimony to adventure, aspiration and friendship, of seeking experiences beyond the familiar. The way in which The Serpent’s creators captured the spirit of young travellers acted as a beautiful tribute to those lost, reaffirming an affinity shared by so many of us with a thirst for exploration.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Travel & Culture
26 Cultural Bite
Previewing Britain’s most tantalizing festivals for 2021 Hal Keelin Travel and Culture Editor With festivals across 2020 almost entirely cancelled, attention well and truly turned to 2021 several months ago. Here, Travel and Culture previews the best ones around with fingers firmly crossed the millions of anticipating them won’t have anything to worry about come the summer.
confirmed so far for what’s sure to be a memorable 16th-19th September. Black Deer Festival Prefer motorbikes, old cars and country music? Black Deer festival in Kent is another more local festival dedicated to Americana and Country Music. But, there’s also room for heavier Blues rock and songwriting workshops. Taking place in Kent’s historic
What’s Brighton got? Boundary Brighton Starting our preview nice and local, Boundary is Brightons biggest electronic music party. Three stages at Stanmer Park on 25th September plays host to a run of house and bass acts. Isle of Wight One of Britain’s oldest festivals, Isle of Wight festival continues to also be one of the most popular. Although discounted to its islanders, the festival this year has an extremely reasonable price considering its lineup regularly features some of the biggest names in the music world. Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, Carly Rae Jepsen are just a few of the names
Eridge Park between 25th and 27th June, Black Deer provides a welcome alternative scene to a festival season in fierce competition for the same dance and indie rock artists. Whats on Up North? Kendal Calling In the stunning lake district of Cumbria, Kendal Calling provides an alternative and diverse festival offering something slightly different to the local areas rich array of lake side tea rooms and mountain peaks. A family friendly festival packed with a range of musical styles, a market, cinema, and even art installations, Kendall Calling provides a tantalizing offer. Although their 2021 lineup is yet
Why brownies tend to go wrong, and how to fix them Graziela Williams
to be announced, many hope the bill will include may of the names that they sadly never got to see in 2020: Primal Scream, The Kooks and Dizzee Rascal among many more. Y Not Festival In yet another National park, Y Not Festival takes place in the Peak District between 29th July -2nd August and has gradually assumed status as one of the better small festivals around. It is primarily a rock and indie festival, with a smattering of dance acts spread throughout. It’s not all about the music at Y Not though, as the festival that began as a house party in a field now boasts comedy gigs, paint fights, carnivals alongside a tent named ‘The Watchtower’ is host to a range of local ales. What’s on in London? Cross the Tracks Selling out their 3rd release over the weekend, Cross the Tracks may just be one of the best events in London this September. Hosted in Brixton’s Brockwell Park on the 5th September, Cross the Tracks promises a lot for a one day festival. Boasting an array of emerging talents from the UK jazz scene - Saxophonist Nubya Garcia and percussionist and producer Yussef Dayes, to name a few – the lineup is nicely complimented by 40 street food traders and a craft beer fair. Wide Awake A bit less jazzy than its London counterpart above, Wide Awake promises in other areas musically. They target themselves at the leftfield indie and post punk crowd (whatever that means) and I personally want some of the action with Black Midi, Tinariwen and Tropical Storm all announced so far.
You’ve heard it before- chocolate releases serotonin and dopamine, makes you happy, etcetera. But I feel like making brownies- especially with the recipe below, which comes together within an hour, only uses two bowls and a mug, and has ingredients that, if we’re accounting for campus co-op prices and the fact that someone always has a bottle of vegetable oil, will only set you back a fiver- is even more rewarding. The main issue with my brownies was always that they came out too cakey, by which I mean dry and not brownie-like at all. The solution is that you should always stay on the undercooked side, because overcooked brownies are miserable and gross. Another key aspect of brownies I recently discovered is that they should always have real chocolate in them. Like, always. Cocoa powder does not and can not cut it. I’ve found that buying bars of dark chocolate and breaking it into chips (either with a knife or by putting them in a plastic bag and bashing it around) is much more economical (and stress relieving) than buying baker’s chocolate bars or chips. Five bars of Aldi dark chocolate cost around 80p less than one bar of Sainsbury’s baking chocolate- do you know how many brownies that’ll make you?! (Ten trays. It’d make ten trays. Read the recipe.) The final problem I always encountered was the brownies getting stuck to the tray. But buying baking paper as a student? In this economy? Maybe not. If you’re of the same line of thinking, try greasing your tin with about one tablespoon of vegetable or sunflower oil on a paper towel, then adding a tablespoon of flour to the tray and tapping it around until it’s coated, shaking out excess into the sink. Lining would be better, but sometimes we need brownies and don’t want to trek to co-op in the rain.
What you will need:
(Adapted from a recipe by Michelle Lopez) 1 cup (a small mug) of plain flour Two eggs Half a cup (half of the same mug) white sugar Vanilla extract (not essential) Half a big bar of dark chocolate (I use 70%, but you could use milk or white or anything else) or most of a cup of chocolate chips 2/3 cup cocoa powder (bournville brand is good and usually discounted) 5 tbsps any oil you have (I use vegetable sunflower or olive usually- or a mix if I’m running out) Additional toppings (chocolate buttons, nuts, m&ms etc)
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees- five o’clock if you look at the hob like a clock. Line or grease and flour a small baking tin- one with sides that aren’t any longer than a ruler, otherwise they’ll be flat. There’s no shame in baking them in a cake tin- you want your brownies thick. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. In a larger bowl, whisk a tablespoon of vanilla, the oil, two tablespoons of water and the eggs until it is totally smooth- no oil still separate around the corners. Pour the flour mix over the wet ingredients and stir in very gently until just combined- no streaks of flour, but really try not to mix too muchstop as soon as it comes together. The mixture will likely be very thick, this is a good thing! Scrape the mixture into your tin, spread it around until it’s even and top with anything you feel like- this isn’t totally necessary, though, as some of the chocolate inside will end up on top and melt and look banging. Bake for 20 minutes, then take them out without turning the oven off and check how done they are. Ideally you want crisp edges that hold shape when poked and a gooey inside. If not, put them back in for another five to seven minutes, then remove from the oven and rest for at least two hours (this is difficult but worth it). Graziela Williams
The Badger 15th March 2021
Travel & Culture 27 How have students been keeping busy over lockdown? city have been especially popular. 3rd year student Joey said ‘I’ve taken up yoga and mindfulness as ways to relax and unwind during this stressful period’.
Megan Taylor Staff Writer With lockdown number 3 coming to a (hopeful) close, it’s safe to say all of us are ready to go back outside and live a normal student life. It’s gotten to the point of having to scrape the barrel for fun things to do to take your mind off the state of the world. For me personally, I impulsively bought a Wii console and have been spending my time trying to unlock all the characters on Mario Kart. I spoke to some friends to hear what people have actually been doing the last year to keep themselves busy… The main thing it seems everyone has made a part of their daily routine is walking. Especially in a city like Brighton, the general consensus is that going to the outskirts/the beach is nice, using nature to escape from your stresses. The most popular destination to wander along is, unsurprisingly, the seafront. 3rd year student Lewis said ‘I like walking along Hove promenade. It’s so open and airy, good for social distancing because you never feel cramped.’ I can also recommend walking a lot for when you’re getting a
Being able to sit and watch the waves go is a really nice way to relax.
Megan Taylor bit of cabin fever. It’s a good way to get out of the house if you live with lots of people and need to get some space. Obviously, University and general life has been getting to everybody. Walking is a really nice form of escapism when things get too much. Speaking to friends living in Brighton, it’s clear that we are all becoming increasingly grateful for having a beach. Being able to sit and watch the waves go is a really nice way to relax. For me, it’s actually the reason I even came to Brighton. Especially because
we have to socially distance from loved ones, it’s a really lovely space to catch up with people safely. A recommendation I have is going with a friend or two and bringing blankets and hot tea in a flask and watching the sun set. It’s a great way to spend an evening if you’re feeling cooped up in your house. With mental health being an especially difficult topic this last year many of the people I spoke to said that most of what they do are methods to get away from Covid stress. And either meditation or being around quiet parts of the
If you’ve hopped on the ever popular gravy train of TikTok (I caved a couple of months ago) you’ll have seen the Witchtok society that have been on everybody’s feed. Interestingly, the taboo of this style of meditation or spirituality has gained mainstream popularity, more so than you’d think. I tried crystals myself and actually ended up enjoying them way more than I was expecting. Even if you think it’s complete rubbish it’s still a nice way to gather your thoughts and de-stress. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s hard to talk about keeping yourself occupied over lockdown without mentioning drinking. Whether it’s drinking on the beach, in the house, or over a zoom call with friends I think the already large drinking culture of Brighton has significantly increased this last year. Me and
my housemates even ended up making a pub in our kitchen to celebrate birthdays. My housemate commented: ‘I was unfortunate enough to have my 21st fall in lockdown. I decided to create my own boozer to make up for not having the pubs around and called it ‘The Grizzly Tavern’. It was nice to recreate the pub atmosphere in our own home’. If you’ve got a birthday coming up and you want to hit the pubs, I’d recommend buying a couple of mini beer kegs and lots of spirits and mixers to make your cocktails and have beer on tap. Put on some vibing music and you’ll get beautifully smashed and will have a great time. Obviously now that the vaccines are rolling out we are very ready for all this pandemic and lockdown to be over and done with. If you’re feeling down or frustrated maybe some of these activities can inspire you. Just another couple of months of being cooped up then we will all be released and can go back to the classic days of burger and pint spoons deals. Until then, find ways to balance relaxation and socialising safely to try and create as much normality as possible.
Forest Bathing – a strange idea, a magnificent trick Hal Keelin Travel & Culture Editor “To take a walk while out in nature and find a quiet place to lie down is one of the most delightful things one can experience” Erling Kagge – Silence: In the Age of Noise It’s just turned spring in the small but lively medieval student town of Uppsala. Sun rays light up the regimented apartment blocks facing my bedroom. It’s a peculiar orange light, not bright, not dark.
It makes me smile, the beginning of a new day and the weather shimmers with a boundless opportunity. Below, bicycles are stacked on either side of the gravel road for as far as I can see. I make a coffee and decide I’m going to cycle to Håga on the quiet roads with its forest, gentle hills and wide valley that trundles down to the still expansive water of lake Ekoln. It’s so still here, in the forest. This dense woodland of fairytales with its pine, moss, and occasional Eurasian three-toed woodpecker.
I wonder if I will see a Siberian jay. Deep down I am way too far south to see such a thing. I come to a clearing; I pass two men talking in Swedish but here an odd English construction. I think he said “flattening the curve” but I don’t know. I keep cycling, I’m on a quest now to find the perfect spot to sit down and enjoy the sun, the heat of which I haven’t felt in a very long time. We knew when we arrived in late august that the 32-degree days were a freak event only possible in Sweden during late summer. We had an inkling it was global warming, and we soon realized those days were recordbreaking, unprecedented heat for any time of year.
With our heads and bodies full of noisy thoughts, sensations, a forest bath is the gradual letting of stillness back inside.
So, months had passed, and I had not felt the heat for so long, and now it felt as if everyone around me was intentionally angling their head to catch as much vitamin D as possible. I found a spot with a commanding view of the shallow valley, lay back and shut my eyes. I looked up and all I could see
were branches swaying above. The gentle rustle of wind, the chirp of birds, the sun on my face, I think this is what people are now calling a forest bath. Lying on the damp mossy forest floor, letting things go. With our heads and bodies full of noisy thoughts, sensations, a forest bath is the gradual letting of stillness back inside. It is common today to describe the practice of forest bathing as a uniquely Japanese concept which arrived in the late 20th century as a reaction toward the country’s increasingly hostile work environment. Modern Japan is infamous for coining the term, ‘Karoshi’, meaning, death-byoverwork. Today, epidemics of burnout, stress, and anxiety are no longer thought unique to Japan. Elsevier has commented on how the World Health Organisation recently dubbed Stress the 21st century’s “health epidemic”, costing American businesses up to $300 billion a year. This leads me to ponder whether ‘Shinrin yoku’ [forest bathing] is just a more recent cultural contribution to something humanity has universally practised for millennia. Everyone who has ever lived has had, if only for a moment,
Hal Keelin a deep immersion in their local environment, a moment when they truly paid attention to the flight of a bird, the whistle of the wind, the crack of a stone thrown on water. This attention to the moment, this trust in what nature can teach us, this may be ‘forest bathing’ but it is also just a particular human expression that is part of what has always been enabled by our being a conscious mammal. Walking in and around our local environment, taking time to appreciate the wider world is surely not that strange, but it is well and truly a magnificent trick to remember.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Travel & Culture
Looking ahead to summer 2021 Emma Norris Staff Writer As I am sure is the case for many students right now, I have 21st June marked firmly in my calendar. The prospect of lockdown ending and a return to normality offers such a sense of anticipation, hope and excitement for the future. I have already spent far too much money on my summer 2021 plans and, assuming the government’s roadmap goes to schedule, it is certain to be one of my busiest yet. I have already found myself looking at AirBnbs in Europe, hunting down cheap plane tickets, booking tickets for gigs and planning trips to see my friends across England. Most of all though, I am excited for the return of live music and more specifically, music festivals. The last time I was at a festival was ‘Reading’ 2019 and I never thought I would get to the point where I am craving overcrowded fields, dirty toilets and overpriced beer. For this festival, instead of attending as a punter, I volunteered with Oxfam, working shifts in the festival in return for free entrance, hot water and somewhere to charge my phone. Working at a festival was such an incredible experience that I would
UK but, despite this, its line-up is a thing of true beauty. Personally, I am most excited to see ‘Perfume Genius’, ‘Pixies’ and ‘Sorry’. More than this though, I am so excited for a return to normality; the atmosphere of festivals (think camping, warm cider and muddy fields!) is something that I absolutely crave.
The music and festival industry has been massively impacted by the pandemic but, with summer 2021 in mind, my hope is that this year will truly mark their comeback.
Emma Norris encourage everyone to do as it offered me the chance to enjoy it from a whole new perspective. Don’t get me wrong, at times the work was hard. On the night that Twenty One Pilots performed, I was stationed at a busy water point next to the stage, being left with just a high vis jacket and walkie talkie and told to manage the queue. This may sound simple, but when you’re a 5”2 girl in a sea of people crammed into a small metal cage, it was no easy task. Despite this though, my experience as a volunteer was incredible. A highlight has to be on the closing night, watching Foo Fighters from the disabled access platform where I was stationed, offering me an unhindered view of the stage. During the festival, we each had to work three 8
hour shifts at varying times in the day, leaving plenty of time to freely enjoy the festival. As well as the obvious perks of free entry, by volunteering with a charity such as Oxfam, the shifts you complete actively contribute to the fundraising efforts of said charity, assisting them in raising vital funds whilst also enjoying the festival experience.
and the risk that certain social distancing guidelines will still have to be obeyed. Despite this, it is so nice to have an event to look forward to. The festival is relatively small, offering a stark contrast to my experience at some of the biggest festivals in the
At my time of writing, summer 2021 appears to be all systems go. Of course, as we have experienced in the last year, this plan could change at any moment and so I am not letting myself get too excited. However, having plans to look forward to is massively aiding my motivation to get through these last few months of lockdown. Although some earlier festivals have now been cancelled, ‘End of the road’ maintain that they fully plan on going ahead, as is the case with many festivals across the country. The music and festival industry has been massively impacted by the pandemic but, with summer 2021 in mind, my hope is that this year will truly mark their comeback.
I am so excited for a return to normality; the atmosphere of festivals (think camping, warm cider and muddy fields!) is something that I absolutely crave. I left the weekend very sunburnt, very dirty, very sleep deprived and with some of the best memories and stories. I am naturally very introverted so working at this festival was a massive step out of my comfort zone, especially considering I went with no other friends who were also working. The team I worked with were absolutely incredible and, although it sounds cliché, I left Reading with friends who I am still in contact with today. This year, my festival of choice is ‘End of the road’, a smaller festival in Dorset, the south-west of England. My girlfriend and I eagerly bought our tickets in November 2020, desperate for an event that we had a degree of confidence would go ahead. It is certainly set to be a different festival experience, with the prospect of pre-entrance testing
The Badger 15th March 2021
Science & Technology
Gold Nanoparticle Therapy Is the use of Gold Nanoparticle Therapy the ultimate weapon in the fight against cancer? Nisal Karunaratne and Purusotha Thambiayah Gold was one of the first metals to be discovered by the modern human (homo sapiens) 200, 000 years ago. In its purest form, it is a bright, yellow, dense, soft, and ductile metal, under standard conditions. It is also one of the least reactive transition metal elements on Earth. As well as being extremely versatile, its beautiful golden colour, facile handling/fabrication and rarity made it a very valuable commodity. Gold quickly became a symbol of status, wealth and power and has been used in jewellery, coinage, and other artifacts across many different civilisations, from the ancient Egyptians and Mayans (who supposedly built The Lost City of Gold deep in the Amazon) for countless millennia. The first medicinal application of gold in its colloidal form (the suspension of gold nanoparticles in a f luid) was written in ancient Chinese, Arabic and Indian scriptures in the 5th to 6th century BC and was thought it was applied for treatment of various diseases (although how it helped is still poorly understood). In medieval Europe, alchemist laboratories used colloidal gold for medical treatment, with the most famous alchemist being Nicholas Flamel, well known for his endeavours to create the Philosopher’s stone which supposedly had the power to turn any base metal into gold and the ‘elixir for immortality’. The first proper scientific thesis on gold nanoparticles was presented by Michael Faraday in 1857, where he described the unique lightabsorbing and scattering properties of gold. British scientists Faulk and Taylor made their breakthrough in 1971 when they managed to couple antibodies with gold nanoparticles (GNPs) to help better visualise bacterial antigens through electron microscopy. This prompted decades of research on the other potential biomedical medical applications of GNPs. Due to the highly effective variety of methods at synthesising GNPs, it is possible to create GNPs with differing sizes, shapes (spheres, rods
Pixabay and stars) and dimensions, all designed to possess particular properties. The properties can then be optimised and tailored to suit certain biomedical applications. E.g nanoparticles designed for drug delivery should be small enough to cross physiological barriers or enter the target cells and large enough to carry an appropriate amount of therapeutic compounds to the target site. The main therapies where GNPs have the potential to be utilised in cancer treatment includes photothermal therapy, radiofrequency therapy, drug carriage and modulation of angiogenesis.
Due to their unique properties in the absorption and scattering of electromagnetic radiation, GNPs make great candidates for photothermal therapy. The treatment involves the use of electromagnetic radiation to generate heat and induce thermal destruction of cancer cells, through disruption of cellular membranes and protein denaturation. However, healthy tissues are also exposed to the damage during this process and therefore more precision treatment such as laser radiation or the use of photothermal agents to enhance the conversation of light into heat energy is needed. GNPs have a much higher absorption capacity across a wide spectrum of light in comparison to conventional photothermal agents, and this therefore enables the rapid
conversion of light into heat energy. This also means the patient requires less agent dosage and lower laser power and hence it is cheaper, more effective and safer. Apart from the rapid heating capabilities of GNPs, they also cause the formation of vapour bubbles inside the cancer cell, causing additional cavitation damage when irradiated with visible or near-infrared light. Furthermore, the vapour bubble producing effect becomes more potentiated when GNPs are clustered together, further enhancing the efficiency of treatment.
agents for more targeted delivery into target tissues. For example, GNPs conjugated with an EGFR-specific antibody were rapidly internalized in epidermal growth factor receptor-expressing cancer cell lines, and subsequent exposure to radiofrequency resulted in almost complete heat-induced cancer cell death. Furthermore, gold nanoparticles surfacemodified with glucose lead to the sensitization of cancer cells to radiation and subsequent apoptosis.
Although chemotherapy is one of the most common methods approved for the treatment of cancer, its devastating side effects and decreased efficiency after multiple treatments, makes it a very discouraging treatment option among both patients and doctors. A platform for the application of a drug delivery system which can hold a sufficient amount of drug, bypasses mechanisms of drug resistance and provides efficient targeted transport to the desired tissue seems ideal. GNPs enable conjugation of anti-cancer agents to its surface and intracellular delivery of the drug with the help of glutathione activity which are already present at high concentrations inside the cancer cell. Once the GNP is inside the cell, glutathione ‘replaces’ the conjugated drug molecules on the surface of the GNP, contributing to their efficient release. Further-
Radiofrequency ablation involves damage to cancer tissue by heat generated by radio waves. A needle-like probe is inserted into tumour bulk and then subjected to radiofrequency destruction. Although radiofrequency is great for the treatment of tumours that are difficult to remove surgically and is minimally invasive, there are some limitations in terms of accurate needle placements, large tumour size and insufficient destruction of cancer tissue. As GNPs have enhanced photothermal properties, they are suitable target-molecules to produce increased heat when exposed to the external radiofrequency field. This is confirmed in rat models injected with GNPs who were noted to have a significant bodily temperature increase and thermal injury. GNPs can also be coupled with antibodies and other
Gold nanoparticles for Drug carriers
more, the intracellular release of the drug from the GNP can be triggered by light and heat stimuli, giving us more control over the time and place of drug activity. Modulation of angiogenesis GNPs show cytotoxic properties against certain cancer cell lines and at the same time relatively harmless with healthy tissues and cells. The inhibition of angiogenesis which helps prevent tumour growth and metastasis is one of the most promising strategies for the application of gold nanoparticles in anticancer therapy. Important angiogenesis mediators in tumour blood vessel growth includes fibroblast growth factor (FGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Current antiangiogenic treatment is far from satisfactory due to insufficient delivery of drugs and increased cancer cell resistance to therapy. GNPs have shown to bind to VEGF and FGF factors, thus inhibiting their activity through denaturation of their protein receptors and preventing endothelial /fibroblast cell proliferation. GNPs have also shown to be efficient carriers for anti-angiogenic compounds which have shown to prevent cell migration and capillary formation without causing toxicity to non-cancer cells.
Due to GNPs unique properties, they are of particular interest for many medical applications, from drug delivery to thermal ablation. The wide range of methods of synthesis of GNPs allows production of GNPs that are specific in architecture and characteristics. Furthermore, GNPs ability for surface modifications adds additional properties that can be made specific to achieve the desired treatment goals. The combination of these events will bring hope for the development of innovative cancer treatment methods which can offer a better quality of life for the patient during and post treatment compared to current conventional cancer therapy.
The Badger 15th March 2021
Science & Technology
2021 Ebola outbreak What is different this time? Waqar Ahmed The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a lot of media coverage over the last month, with several vaccines being rolled out across the world and easing of lockdown measures being discussed, but this widespread attention may be drawing away from another familiar infectious disease which has recently caused a rising number of cases in West Africa. On the 14th of February this year, authorities in Guinea confirmed an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which had previously caused up to 28,652 suspected cases and 11,325 deaths worldwide in the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the start of March, the new outbreak in southern Guinea had caused 17 sus-
pected EVD cases, leading political leaders and epidemiologists to suggest preventative steps such as screening of travellers and public health measures to stop the outbreak becoming an epidemic. Another outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began when a case of EVD was reported on the 7th of February. Since then, rising cases in both countries led to the US government announcing that travellers from the two affected countries will be funnelled into six US airports to control the spread of the disease and monitor the situation more closely. EVD outbreaks in the DRC are considered recurrent, possibly due to the presence of the virus in the animal reservoir in many parts of the country, though at the time of writing, a new case has not been reported in the country since the 22nd of February.
As of yet, virus sources are not known and there is not enough information to comment on the extent of transmission, though advancements in the control of the disease, such as two licensed vaccines against Ebola virus, make the risk of infection significantly lower than in the 2014-2016 outbreak. The humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced that a team of experienced Ebola specialists have arrived in Guinea to investigate the outbreak and its potential impacts, particularly in the atmosphere of an ongoing pandemic. In any case, there are certain steps that need to be taken to minimise the effects of the outbreak whilst epidemiological surveillance and genetic sequencing is carried out. These steps include effective contact tracing to
monitor the health of people who may have been in touch with an infected person, ensuring safe funeral practices for people who are suspected to have died from Ebola and having facilities in place to isolate and treat Ebola patients with the good triage set-up to minimise the risk to other patients and healthcare workers. Another hurdle in controlling this outbreak includes ensuring that there are enough vaccines available and that there is good uptake of these vaccines in the regions most affected by Ebola, which requires effective community engagement and public education. In addition to vaccines, there are now treatments for EVD which did not exist in the West Africa outbreak of 2014. Though it is not yet clear which treatments will be used in Guinea and the DRC,
these therapeutic options substantially increase the chances of survival, especially if started early, and they may also encourage patients to come forward promptly if they suspect they may be infected. One of the key issues highlighted during the 2014-2016 outbreak was patient hesitation when it comes to isolation in Ebola treatment centres as there were few effective treatments available. Vedaste Ndahindwa, an epidemiologist working at the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a mass rollout of vaccinations and has commented that the affected countries’ experience in combating COVID-19 may better equip them in controlling Ebola, through reinforcing familiar measures such as handwashing and contact tracing.
Robotic foresters could be key in deforestation fight Harry Smith We entered the year 2020 at a critical point in deforestation across the Amazon, but in what was meant to be a blockbuster year for climate activism, the plans for change in our foundational forestry practises were upended by the covid-19 pandemic. Global companies facing the financial impact of the pandemic turned their backs on the beckoning climate breakdown, channelling their energy and attention on economic struggles instead. However, thanks to recent advancements in technology and robotic engineering, developers may have just found the key in the deforestation fight. Many people believe that global governing bodies should be more active in tackling the downfall of the Amazon, although a pair of robotic foresters may be the world’s answer to overcoming deforestation. Developers of Milrem Robotics and the University of Tartu, both based in Estonia, have been working on two robotic, autonomous foresters that work together to plant thousands of seedlings in just a number
Wikimedia commons of hours. With an estimated 3500 seedlings planted within a 5-6 hour period these robotic foresters demonstrate the potential to plant trees quicker than they are being cut down. The ‘planter’ robot works alongside a ‘brush cutter’ driverless vehicle that plants seedlings as well as recording the location of each new tree. The brush cutter robot follows the planter on each journey, removing vegetation around the seedlings and tidying up. While precise navigation is challenging and requires a series of GPS, cameras and 3D geometrics sensors, Gert Hankewitz of
Milrem Robotics cites how the robot foresters exert less pressure on the soil than human feet, making the robotic duo better for the environment than manual foresters. Developers are currently tackling the challenge posed by the chaotic environment of a typical rainforest - selfdriving cars follow open roads with markings and lanes, whereas navigating around a natural forest can be fairly unpredictable. By using simulation mechanics developers are teaching the robotic foresters how to identify and work round obstacles, without getting stuck, toppling
over and damaging the environment. The hope is that one day these robotic foresters will cost less and work quicker than manual forest workers to lead the way in overcoming deforestation. Last year saw many of the world’s forests engulfed in f lames, from the Australian bushfires that killed over a billion local animals to the wildfires in northern California that burned more than 23,000 acres of land over just a few days. While the number of fires in the Amazon rainforest rose 20% in June to a 13-year monthly high and a total of 2,248 first detected up from 1,880 from the previous year. This year, deforestation is at tipping point, and we must find a way to produce foods that benefits the local climate environments and protects wildlife, carbon sinks, and indigenous people. Rainforest annihilation occurs in mass areas of the Amazon to make way for commodities such as palm oil, soy and timber that are used in several million everyday products. To meet the demand for products such as upland rice, manioc, and corn, small plantations are built across the amazon,
clearing thousands trees in its wake, although cattle pastures remain the dominant crop, occupying vast areas of the Amazon basin, specifically in locations such as those in Para and Math Grosso. Perennial crops meet the growing demands of coffee and cocoa, ensuring that the natural splendour of the tropical rainforest is enshrined within commercial produce. To make room for these crops, thousands of trees are cut down, destroying carbon sinks and releasing emissions into the atmosphere that causes global ramifications.
Rainforest annihilation occurs in mass areas of the Amazon to make way for commodities such as palm oil, soy and timber that are used in several million everyday products. With governing bodies and global brands currently in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, enabling robots may be the key in tackling a deforestation problem that requires immediate action. The development of these robotic foresters is set to be completed by the end of the year.
The Badger 15th March 2021
31 Fury vs Joshua
Will Vo As Fury and Joshua look set to lockhorns in a heavyweight super fight for all the belts in 2021, there is reason to look forward with a sense of optimism at the marquee division in boxing. The beauty of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua’s fight is in its polarization; the way it separates boxing fans into two clear groups: those who think Anthony Joshua takes the throne, and those who think “The Gypsy King” walks out with the crown once more. In fact, in 2017, I was sat in the Copperbox Arena watching Billy Joe Saunders, when Tyson Fury entered the arena to support his friend, and despite not having boxed in close to two years at that point, with no clear route back, he garnered the loudest cheer of the night; and prompted the person sat next to me to ask “do you think he beats Joshua?”. That night, I answered yes. Uncertainly, but yes nonetheless. Now, my opinion is closer, having watched more boxing, and having seen Joshua at wrinkles to his game that can help him in this fight. There are undoubtedly ways both can win, from the fundamentally sound power punching of AJ, to the slick moving versatility of the
Gyspy King, this bout is truly mouthwatering. For Anthony Joshua, the consensus seems to be that he possesses the kryptonite to Fury’s notorious elusivity; and that is combination punching and body shots. However, even with these weapons at his disposal, it only opens up the pressing question which is how can he use them? The answer seems dangerously unsophisticated, but it might be the perfect one, and it’s when Fury touches his nose. All boxers have reset mechanisms, e.g. how they subconsciously regain their composure, and when Fury wipes his nose with his glove, Joshua needs to jump on him; which is vastly easier said than done. Wilder managed to time it once in his first fight with Fury, and almost knocked him out, so potentially Joshua can learn from that and time his attacks according to when Fury least wants to exchange. The extension of this path to victory is unpredictability in how he starts his attacks. Fury has an innate ability to get reads on his opponents, as was seen when he fought Chisora for the second time, and this explains his reputation as a guy who wins rematches in a more convincing fashion than the first fight. Joshua can’t rely on a jab to get
into range against Fury, and has to use different methods of attack to apply pressure, such as body work, lead right hands, and even feints to draw Fury out, which he can counter with his very impressive pull-counter, much like against Pulev. If Joshua can put all his weapons together, and land them on Fury, we could see a fight in which the shorter, but more powerful boxer offsets the slick taller man with body shots and combinations on the inside, forcing a stoppage in the mid-to-late rounds as Fury has to take risks in order to make up for the lost early rounds. It feels almost foolish to suggest that Fury should adjust his perfect gameplan from the Wilder fight, but it is important to remember that there are key stylistic differences between the Bronze Bomber, and AJ, and that this translates into some slight tweaks that can help him out. First of which is that Anthony Joshua can fight on the inside with far greater effect than Deontay Wilder, as was highlighted by his uppercuts against Klitschko and Pulev. To counteract this, it seems as though Fury just needs to be wary of how he crashes into the clinch, and set up any attempts to close distance with feints and counters. Secondly, Joshua has an ability to extend exchanges
of punches which Wilder did not have, and in turn this makes it harder for Fury to dictate the action on his terms. This translates into Fury needing perhaps to fight on the backfoot to a greater extent than against Wilder. So, how does Fury win? The answers lie in his performances against Chisora (in the second fight), Wilder, and Klitschko. For the first few rounds, where Joshua is at his most dangerous, Fury needs to offset any potential rhythm that AJ manages to find. I think the best way that he can do this is actually found in the Klitschko fight, where he used feints and stance switches to negate the jab, and smothered at close range rather than engaging in a toe to toe slugfest; as opposed to the Wilder rematch where he shut off Wilder’s attack with forward pressure and an outstretched arm, which may leave him open to body shots against Joshua. Another benefit to Fury’s feints are that they draw Joshua’s guard up, and as was shown in the first Andy Ruiz fight, this leaves Joshua open to the body. Once Joshua is biting on feints, covering up, Fury needs to invest in thumping shots to the body, such as those that he dropped Wilder with, and almost stopped Wallin with. This will deplete the gas
tank of Joshua. Fury also has a really good ability to get his back off the ropes, and out of corners, often with a jab and a lead hook, or a double lead hook and pivot motion. This will benefit him against Joshua, as it allows Fury to frustrate his opponent by forcing them into a game out cat and mouse. If Fury feels Joshua start to slow down, the next phase of attack will begin, and this will more closely resemble the Wilder rematch, and involve Fury steadily applying more pressure to his opponent, and fight him in spots that Joshua wants to rest in. Fury will here look to smother Joshua, tiring him out further by leaning, smashing him to the body on the inside, and pushing him up against the ropes. This ultimately leads to a late stoppage for the Gypsy King. Overall, I still favour Fury in this fight. I think his ability to frustrate opponents is something that Joshua has yet to come up against, whilst Fury has fought multiple power punching opponents. It is a close fight, and far more competitive than either camp would lead you to believe, but I find it difficult to look past Fury’s gas tank, toughness and fight IQ, as well as his ability to switch stances and bamboozle Anthony Joshua.
Wales Take Charge Max Kilham Sports Online Editor The Dragons are leading the race to win their 40th Six Nations title, which would take them one ahead of England on total title wins. Four games in, Wales sit atop the table, with 19 points, nine ahead of France, who have played one game less. The Welsh have looked commanding in all of their victories so far, with their victory against England last Saturday wrapping up the Triple Crown. An ultimately convincing 7-48 victory over Italy has made it unlikely that they will drop outside the top two, with France now the only real challengers. In previous weeks, the Welsh secured a narrow win against Ireland 21-16 and an even tighter 24-25 victory over Scotland at the Murrayfield Stadium. However, against England, the affair was much more straight forward. Despite a closely contested first half, in which the score was 17-14 at the break, tries from Josh Adams, Kieran Hardy, Liam Williams and Cory
Marc Hill were enough to see the Dragons to victory. However, there was a fair amount of controversy involved within the game. Adams’ try was deemed questionable as there were water carriers on the field, with England captain Farrell arguing that there was no chance for his team to prepare after a talk from the referee concerning England’s discipline. Referee Pascal Gaüzère ultimately ignored the complaints from the England camp and awarded the try. As per the Guardian, Farrell made no excuses for the loss, not wanting to use to disputed try as an excuse for the result: “It’s not for us to talk about
ref decisions, we got ourselves back in the game and didn’t do enough from that position. “There’s no point in talking about what we can’t control, we need to focus on what we can control. “It’s the whole team’s job to be better with discipline.” Wales Coach Wayne Pivac spoke to BBC One and displayed his ecstacy at the victory: “It’s been a big few weeks for us, I’m very, very pleased for the players that put a big effort in this evening. “Some people will say it has been on our side the last three matches but you have to be in games to win them. “England put a lot of pressure
on us and came back. It was a hell of a game and a lot of resilience from our boys. “When you give away that many penalties, one player five penalties, you are lucky to not to concede a yellow. You could argue either way. “He [Sheedy] made amends tonight and like all the players that came on, he made an impact. “We picked a squad to get results to win this tournament, we’ve had time together and a good bond in the group. “They enjoy winning and hopefully we can press on further.” Conversely, England are having one of their worst tournaments in recent memory, despite victory against France. Two losses in their opening four games, against both Scotland and Wales, has hardly been the start to 2021 that England coach Eddie Jones had in mind. Jones also spoke to BBC One after the defeat against Wales. Like Farrell, he refused to be drawn into a debate over refereeing decisions, whilst also praising the Welsh outfit for their
performance: “It is what it is. We can’t argue with the referee. The result’s there and we’ve got to accept it. “Maybe there were tough calls but we’ve got to be good enough to overcome that. “I’m not going to make a comment on it. I accept the referee’s decision. We’ve got to be good enough to handle it. “Wales were worthy winners. I was pleased with how our players fought back to 24-24. The last play summed up our day. We did some fine work and they scored down the other end. “We’re probably trying too hard. I thought the effort today was outstanding. It was a difficult game for us. We’ve got to be able to adapt to those emotional disruptions and officiating disruptions. “Maro Itoje gave away a few penalties today but he’s such a good player and he’ll learn from that.” Elsewhere, Scotland lost narrowly once again, 24-27 to Ireland, whilst England’s 23-20 defeat of France has handed les Bleus an uphill battle.
The Badger 15th March 2021
32 Social Media Crackdown
Harry Smith Football is a microcosm of today’s society and the racism that goes on within the game simply reflects the wider societal race problem in the UK. Potential government legislation looks set to combat this issue. While systematic and institutional discrimination remains firmly imbedded within our society, sport obtains the power to condemn and eradicate racially abusive slurs and behaviour, setting its own example. As with all sport, football is a compartmentation, meaning wider issues such as racism are more identifiable in part rather than in society and therefore plausibly more preventable. Players and coaching staff have taken the knee before kick off across all four tiers of English football since July, initially in show support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the gesture, that serves as an important reminder of racism in football and today’s society, there has been a tidal wave of online racist abuse directed at footballers across social media platforms. Last season, 287 of the 2,663 football fixtures played in Eng-
land and Wales featured at least one incident of hate crime, while arrests for racist or indecent chanting rose by 150%, according to the Home Office. This season, the absence of fans from stadiums means that racism has simply migrated online, with more players targeted and receiving racist abuse on social media than ever before. Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt is the latest player subjected to racism online, as last month saw many other players exposed to such discrimination. Manchester United forward Anthony Martial was racially abused on Instagram, following a 1-1 draw to relegation bound West Brom, while his teammates Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe have also suffered discriminatory slander and hate-speech online. Among other recent targets of racial abuse are Chel-
sea defenders Reece James and Antonio Rudiger. Swansea’s Yan Dhanda, an Asian footballer, also received racist abuse on social media following an FA Cup defeat to Manchester City. Social media companies are under pressure to do more to tackle racist abuse directed at football players on their platforms and many have called for legal action to be taken. The No Room For Racism campaign, that has received the full backing of the 20 current Premier League teams, raises awareness, educates fans, and works to enforce greater ramifications for racial abusers online. While FIFPro, the world players’ union, have called on public institutions to urgently instrument protection against any form of racism on social media platforms. Quicker removals of abusive comments and direct messages, improved personal identification, and banning of offenders across all social media platforms, are just some of the measures that have been proposed in order to eliminate abusive behaviour online. Facebook, which owns Instagram, has said it is horrified with the abuse footballers have received on social media and is
working with the charity Kick It Out, which fights for equality across all levels of football, to help prevent the issue. Instagram have also declared that they will begin banning abusers who send racist content to footballers through direct messages (DMs) - before now, Instagram would only seek to ban accounts who were abusive in the comment section or on posts. Despite social media companies pledging their active engagement and cooperation in combating racism online, people have said measures must still be taken further. Many are calling for an improved identification system on social media platforms. This would help with identifying the abuser, locating evidence, and sanctioning them. Although, social media companies have been highly resistant to surrender their precious user data in the past and have been even more reluctant to share identification and personal details with law enforcement authorities. Racial abusers believe they can be abusive online and not be caught or face the consequences for their actions this sort of crowd anonymity is something that football has worked hard to abolish in stadi-
ums over the years, but it is now resurfacing online. Lately, the Football Association (FA) has been under pressure to do more in stomping out racial abuse directed at footballers online and as a result of this, the English football’s governing body recently called for action from the government to prevent racist abuse on social media. There are now potential plans in place to bring in new laws that will make social media companies accountable for their users online safety and behaviour. Holding social media platforms responsible for racially abusive users means that they could face sanctions and fines running into the billions if they do not act when encountering racism on their sites. At its best football can be a catalyst for social change and defy the root causes of racial injustice in this country. However, if it is to promote equality and elicit change through its power, then social media companies must cooperate with English football’s governing body and the UK government. Only then will measures be taken further and English football work to eliminate racism and protect it’s players online.
Sussex Esports Roundup: Following the Sussex Sharks Jake Nordland As Covid-19 has sent shockwaves through the sporting world, many students have been forced to turn to new hobbies with which to occupy their time and satisfy their competitive drive. For many, esports has filled the sports-shaped hole siphoned away over a year ago by an unforgiving pandemic. Esports, for the uninitiated, are videogames played competitively for audiences and prize money. If it sounds niche, it isn’t - esports is a $1bn industry, and the university esports ecosystem awards tens of thousands of pounds to winning teams each year. Much like traditional sporting clubs at Sussex, the esports society runs competitive tryouts to determine the universities’ best players for its teams, which it then enters into inter-university UK championships for each esport. Unlike traditional sports, however, our esports teams have been competing unencumbered by the pandemic. Four weeks into the season, we recap how Sussex’s very own Sussex Sharks have been performing in
their weekly games in university leagues across the six different esports titles contested by our players. Sussex’s Rocket League teams, who are historically strong performers and are currently fielding three seperate teams, have had a better-than-expected start to the season. After two weeks of qualification, the 1st team won all three of their bestof-5 matches in the third week to get promoted to Nationals, the highest division containing the top 32 teams in the country. Week four saw further success, with two wins propelling them to the 24th spot in the standings. Sussex’s 2nd team managed to stay in the top of Regionals, the league’s second division, offering the opportunity of promotion if they win their next three matches. The 3rd team, meanwhile, lag slightly behind in the third division. Committee member and team captain for Sussex’s Rocket League 1st team, Ryan ‘Distan’ Hamlett, told The Badger: “Our 1st team made it into National league almost with ease, it made me proud to see as we have been doing so much work to improve over the last year or so”.
“Our 2nd and 3rd team have also been rising up the Regional standings which is exciting to see as Sussex is quickly becoming more than just a one team university in Rocket League”. In League of Legends, a shaky qualification period saw both of Sussex’s teams placed into Regionals. Three weeks in, the 1st team narrowly missed an opportunity to promote to Nationals after winning 2 of their 3 series. But their narrow loss will mean the roster will have the chance to promote again next week. With both the 1st and 2nd League of Legends teams achieving a 5-4 win-loss record, they sit in comfortable positions in the upper echelon of Regionals. As one of Sussex’ strongest assets, our 3-person Hearthstone team started strong with a 6th place standing going into week 4. But a difficult match versus the 2019 champions Saint Andrews saw Sussex lose out on the last chance to qualify for playoffs, exiting the tournament outside the top 6 and forfeiting the chance for a share of the £600 prize pot.
In Rainbow 6: Siege, two solid opening weeks were improved on in the third week after two series wins saw them promote into the top division for the league. The fourth week ushered in further success with another 2 series wins keeping them safely within the top division. Sussex’s team for Valorant - Riot’s new team-based tactical FPS that launched last year - have had some tight losses and resounding wins. Consistent performances and an equal number of wins and losses most weeks mean the team currently sits at 12th, 25th and 30th place in the three different leagues available to university Valorant players. After missing multiple matches due to unavailability, the Dota 2 team fell into 30th place in the league standings. But with a 5-person team back in action, the team went 1-1 in week 4 and look poised to improve their standings going forward. There are some notable absences from Sussex’s usual profile this season. The CounterStrike: Global Offensive team, which placed 9th in the South region last term, could not en-
ter their 1st team for this term’s tournament. Sussex’s main Overwatch team, which has also placed well in previous seasons, similarly could not field a team. National Student Esports (NSE), one of the tournament providers for university esports, maintains an overall ranking of the top esports universities in the UK. Sussex ranked 35th out of all UK universities last academic year, having previously finished 20th the season before. Jacob ‘Jev’ Evans, President of the Sussex Esports society, told The Badger: “Whilst this term has been a quieter one, [due to] not wanting esports to get in the way of academics, we’ve still proven ourselves in multiple games, posting impressive scores in multiple tournaments.” but we’ll come back stronger”, he added. Any Sussex students can form or join a team and take part in university esports tournaments each term for free. For more information about how to participate in esports at Sussex, visit their society page or join the University of Sussex Esports Society discord server.