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

My speech from ‘down with campus censorship’ debate

Last night I took part in the Edinburgh leg of Spiked’s ‘down with campus censorship’ tour. Although I was informed that Tom Slater, Assistant Editor of Spiked, would be participating, I wasn’t informed that the debate was part of this tour. I therefore took part in the debate and you can find my speech below, followed by the statement that I posted on the event page the following day. You can see coverage of the debate on the twitter hashtag #EdDebates. … 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

In defence of ‘angry feminism’ (The Edinburgh Journal)

As a woman who has – shock! – dared to be vocal about misogyny on the internet, I’m painfully familiar with the cliches that my ‘aggression’ is detrimental to the cause, or that it’s feminism’s failure that women don’t want to associate with the ‘hairy lesbian’ stereotype. While my instinctive reaction might be to sigh, or downvote the comment, or slam my head against my keyboard on a particularly bad day, I also recognise that feminism is a journey and I’m forced to think back to when a younger me might have peddled the same rhetoric, unequipped with the learning I’ve done since. Learning that’s allowed me to think critically about these ideas through a lens that recognises my privilege as a straight, white, middle-class woman, and sees these accusations as symptoms of a patriarchal society rather than blueprints for a feminist success story.

… Read More