The state is an enabler of sexual violence. So what hope for the victims? (The Guardian)

What does a perpetrator of violence against women look like? For many, the question still evokes images of shadowy strangers pouncing in the dark or thuggish drunken husbands stumbling home from football matches – stereotypes challenged tirelessly by women’s organisations and campaigners, especially throughout the current 16 days of action against gender-based violence.

In reality, women are statistically most likely to be assaulted by someone known to them, and domestic abuse can be, and is, also perpetrated by handsome middle-class professionals. Busting myths is therefore a crucial tool in the fight against a culture which relies on them. But for all these vital and urgent conversations about the true face of perpetrators, there is one that remains largely invisible in spite of both ubiquity and power: the state itself. … Read More

Why putting women on banknotes should make us feel uneasy (The Guardian)

What do Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale and the Forth Rail Bridge have in common? The answer is not the punchline to a highbrow joke: they have all been recipients of the apparent honour of appearing on some form of currency.

The issue of who should be worthy of such an accolade is a conversation that has come to the fore again recently with a widespread recognition that women are traditionally under-represented on banknotes. Canada has subsequently welcomed open nominations for women to appear on them; the US has announced the inclusion of escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman; and the Royal Bank of Scotland has now put playwright and novelist Nan Shepherd on its £5 note, along with scientist Mary Somerville on the £10. … Read More

5 Reasons I Won’t Be Joining the Women’s Equality Party

When Sandi Toksvig and co. announced they were starting the Women’s Equality Party, I didn’t have especially high hopes: the three white, middle-class women at its helm rang some bells about who might be excluded and, besides, I’ve never been convinced that radical feminist action is best achieved inside the fundamentally oppressive framework of party politics. But I – perhaps naively – did think that with the right people involved from the start in shaping policy and direction, perhaps the WEP could be a force for good. Their policy launch this week, though, sadly did very little to exceed my already low expectations. Here are some of the reasons why.  … Read More

2014 was not ‘The Year of Feminism’

As we head towards 2015, the internet groaning under the weight of a million boring white boys’ end-of-year indie tracks lists, there are plenty of names on everyone’s lips and open Google Chrome tabs. Taylor Swift, maybe; Nigel Farage, unfortunately; Russell Brand, probably. Emma Watson likely keeps cropping up, too. Jeremy Clarkson is only ever a few clicks away. But while the latter is most likely to be found in ‘Villian of the Year’ or on some kind of ‘Facepalms of 2014’ Buzzfeed-style feature complete with gifs, the former seems to be singlehandedly propping up trade in this year’s favourite end-of-year list: the ‘Feminist Moments of 2014’ one found everywhere from The Huffington Post to Cosmopolitan magazine. Of course I couldn’t help but add my own tuppence worth to the 2014 reviews hailing this ‘the year of women’ and ‘a turning point for feminism’ – because boring indie white boys I can just about deal with, but rubbish feminism is a whole other matter. … Read More

Has Edinburgh University eradicated sexism?

Following a panel discussion I was part of for Edinburgh University’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability department on whether the university has eradicated sexism, I wrote this guest blog for them summarising my perspective.

I was delighted last month to be asked to contribute to the panel discussion ‘Has the University eradicated sexism?’ and it was a pleasure to share the panel with two women – Vice Principal Equality and Diversity Jane Norman, and Ellie Mason from the Philosophy department – who both agreed that the answer was a firm ‘no’ but also had insightful and interesting thoughts on the issue and how to target it. … Read More

Gender Quotas at Edinburgh University (FreshAir.org.uk)

Edinburgh University has no immediate plans to introduce gender quotas on its university court, despite recommendations in recent reviews and growing pressure from students, it has transpired.

The news comes after it was revealed that NUS Scotland Women’s Campaign have prioritised campaigning around the Von Prondzynski Report, a review into governance in Scottish Higher Education that suggested 40% of places on governing bodies should be reserved for women. Despite the discussion of quotas being one of the areas of the report to generate most concern amongst Edinburgh University’s Court – the governing body of the University – many of its members failed to respond when contacted for comment. … Read More