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Interview: Siân Docksey from The Sex and Nature Salon

I interviewed Siân Docksey prior to the salon to ask her how she found out about this unique, yet fascinating opportunity, to which she replied, “way back in March when the world set on fire and everything just disintegrated in front of us, I lost all of my gigs. I was on a writer’s weekly mail out and there was an advert for joining a Creative Fellowship at the University”. After questioning whether being a ‘Fellow’ involved “[walking] around in a cravat [tipping your] hat at people”, she soon discovered that the University of Exeter’s Arts and Culture team recruits three Creative Fellows a year, who work with academics to enhance their area of research. So, “it’s a bit like speed dating,” Siân noted, laughing. As if by fate, Siân was partnered with Dr Ina Linge, an expert in “The Politics of Sexual Nature”. Continue reading Interview: Siân Docksey from The Sex and Nature Salon

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The Changing Face of British Television: How Small Axe Carved New Ground

In the era of technological domination, education through television is far from uncommon. We gain our facts and our opinions from a screen. As our eyes remain glued to the images that flash before us, our beliefs become shaped by various depictions of history. Whilst our perceptions are informed by our lived experiences, images and stories depicted in the media fill in the gaps. Where … Continue reading The Changing Face of British Television: How Small Axe Carved New Ground

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Education Outside Europe?

 “In terms of insights, I’ve found my world view has changed.“ – Georgia, Leeds University “…being on Erasmus FORCED me to see the world from so many different ways and it’s made me a kinder, more understanding person.” – Becca, Greenwich University Nicola Sturgeon described the government’s decision to pull out of the Erasmus programme as “cultural vandalism” in a Tweet on the day Britain’s … Continue reading Education Outside Europe?

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Conspiracy Theories: Why Are We So Susceptible?

An ITV study found approximately 5 million anti-vax followers in the UK. Couple this with the news that 1 in 3 people are exposed to anti-vax messages (as found by Kings College London) and frustration mounts. The vaccine is our only way back to normality. It is the sole means by which we can simultaneously protect the most vulnerable whilst lifting lockdown restrictions. The idea, therefore, that so many people are sceptical and resistant to the vaccine is problematic. It threatens medical progress, but also begs the question of why humans are psychologically inclined to believe in conspiracy theories that have so little supporting evidence, and why more so in times of crisis? Continue reading Conspiracy Theories: Why Are We So Susceptible?

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Protest, Riot, Insurrection: The Weaponisation of the Language of Resistance

During the peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests during summer 2020, the excessive response of police forces and the National Guard sent shock waves across the world. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat unsurprising that the violent mop which descended on the Capitol on Jan 6th, following the instructions of President Trump, did not provoke the same reaction. Continue reading Protest, Riot, Insurrection: The Weaponisation of the Language of Resistance

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Bleed Greener: Is Individualised Climate Responsibility an Environmental Threat in Disguise?

From a very young age, we are taught to recycle, to switch off lights when we leave a room, and to turn off the tap when we brush our teeth. As young adults, we are encouraged to take a reusable cup when we purchase take-out coffee, to consume less meat, and to cycle instead of driving short distances. Continue reading Bleed Greener: Is Individualised Climate Responsibility an Environmental Threat in Disguise?

Harry Potter and the Author Who Won’t Stop Tweeting

During lockdown, a time already fraught with fear, anxiety, and literal and emotional isolation (particularly for members of the LGBTQ+ community who may have found themselves locked down with families who don’t accept their identity), J.K. Rowling wrote an essay about her notorious anti-trans views. In the article, published on her own blog (but summed up much better on other sites, so you do not have to give her page clicks that she presumably profits from), Rowling explains her defence of tax specialist Maya Forstater, a woman who’d claimed that a distinguished non-binary CEO was “a white man who likes to dress in women’s clothes”, and later lost a tribunal debating whether the philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected by the law. She then went on to similarly defend her support of Scottish activist Magdalen Burns, who had compared being transgender to being in blackface. In the rest of the essay she uses tired, offensive arguments to defend what Andrew J. Carter called her ‘half-truths and transphobic dogwhistles’. These statements included pointing out the risk trans activists apparently pose to children who may be questioning their identity (‘I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on education and safeguarding’), the risk trans women apparently pose to cisgender women, (‘When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman, then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside’), and the erasure of free speech that apparently occurs when laws are enshrined to protect trans people. Continue reading Harry Potter and the Author Who Won’t Stop Tweeting

Boobs and Books: How Women Often get Told They Can Only Have One or the Other

When Emily Ratajkowski’s interview with French Marie Claire in 2018 went viral this year, I don’t expect many women were all that surprised by its contents. The writer Thomas Chatterton Williams was shocked to learn that the now 29-year-old model and actress was writing a series of essays about the modelling industry and commodification, because apparently you can’t have boobs AND brains in the twenty-first century. Ratajkowski is sadly not the only victim of the sexist trope, that conventionally attractive women are not intelligent, and any signs of intelligence are merely a ploy to seem even more attractive to men. Time and time again, famously beautiful women are mocked for having an interest in politics, literature or anything other than material items. But this issue doesn’t end with just the famous ladies out there, it trickles down even more potently to all levels of society. Continue reading Boobs and Books: How Women Often get Told They Can Only Have One or the Other

Scotland’s Period Poverty Bill

On Tuesday 24 November, 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to make free period products available to all menstruating people. This landmark step in the global fight against period poverty was met with wide celebration by campaigners and activists, including Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who has been fighting for the cause since 2016. Continue reading Scotland’s Period Poverty Bill

Bleed Greener: Eco-Anxiety or Eco-Empathy? The Climate Crisis and Mental Health

It is undeniable that the pandemic has had a severe impact upon many people’s mental health. Invariably, people are spending less time interacting with other human beings in social situations and work environments, and more time in isolation with only their thoughts for company. This has caused the worsening of pre-existing mental health issues such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with the rise of anxiety and loneliness amidst the general population. Furthermore, the ways in which Covid-19 has shifted the nation’s focus away from crucial, time-sensitive efforts to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis have also had a particularly negative impact upon those individuals suffering from a chronic fear of the consequences of environmental damage. In the past few years, this state of heightened concern for the future of the planet has been termed ‘eco-anxiety’. Continue reading Bleed Greener: Eco-Anxiety or Eco-Empathy? The Climate Crisis and Mental Health