Thursday, 15 August 2013

Why Does It Matter Who Is On Our Banknotes?

Money equals power. Money makes the world go round. The man who owns enough money can do just about anything he pleases with it (within the boundaries of physics). As much as we may detest this notion we cannot deny that a capitalist society thrives upon its ability to generate wealth. Currency has come to mean everything, right down to our basic survival. It is the greatest indicator of who has control in this country, and quite obviously that control still lies firmly in the hands of men alone.

“BUT,” you say “The Queen is on every bank note.” Queen Elizabeth was born into her role in society; she did not ask to be such a significant public figure and she certainly did not earn the right, unlike Charles Darwin (the esteemed English naturalist), Adam Smith (described as being one of the fathers of modern economics), Matthew Boulton and James Watt (whose advances in steam engine technology made a significant contribution to the progress of the Industrial Revolution), or Sir John Houblon (the first ever governor of the bank of England). Undoubtedly, our head of state has done a lot of good work for her subjects, but she is largely still a pawn in a patriarchal system, and has not contributed to the economic, scientific or political progression of British society. It’s like sticking Prince Charles on every note and saying it’s enough that he’s a bloke – the monarchy simply aren’t representative of all the people who built this country, because they mostly sat around and watched whilst everybody else made a fuss. And what if you happened to be really anti-monarchy? (That of course is a whole other very large and very complicated kettle of fish).

The real issue here is that women have contributed just as much to the British Empire as men have, and that fact is not being expressed anywhere, let alone on the backs of UK currency. Women’s history has been smothered by clandestine methods since the dawn of time – there’s a reason you don’t have knowledge of the female warriors who led armies into battles or the women who fought against all odds to lobby for vital changes in UK legislation. Did you know that those anonymously authored poems you have read were largely written by women? Did you even know that the first British person to go into space, Helen Sharman, was a woman?

Powerful, influential and successful women are derided by public opinion; they are measured by the virtue of how pleasing their appearances are and, inevitably, any outstanding contributions they make to society are succinctly diminished until their conquests barely existed at all.

And yes, to all of the naysayers and internet trolls (super cool individuals with full and gratifying lives), this is still happening: case-in-point, freelance journalist and campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez who successfully campaigned against the almighty force that is the Bank of England and won women a place on the ten pound note, after they decided to remove social reformer Elizabeth Fry from the five pound note. It is not only a victory for the people but one of symbolic worth, seeing as though an everyday woman (i.e. not her royal Madge) had only made the cut for the lowest common denominator amongst bank notes before; doubling a woman’s value is a big promotion. Jane Austen, the prolific author of classics such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’, was added to the ranks of esteemed men deemed worthy of gracing the UK’s legal tender – but even she had to adopt a male name to achieve her virulent literary success.

What Caroline Criado-Perez did was revolutionary. She took on one the most ancient and powerful institutions in Great Britain and won. The response from many members of the public was congratulatory, but many others chose to attack an innocent woman in the wake of her success; at its peak, she received over fifty threats of violence, torture, rape and murder each day from internet trolls. These people may have been making empty threats, but what they really meant to say to Criado-Perez was this: “How dare you express your opinion? How dare you challenge a man’s authority? Stop making a fuss and shut up; nobody likes a woman with a big mouth. I’m a nasty little bully with nothing else better to do than to try and make you feel small. Oh, and BTW, you’re an ugly bitch, so what use are you to anybody?”

The plan was to degrade Criado-Perez to such an extent that she gave up campaigning, but the plan failed. We have to tiptoe around these cretinous people, maniacs who think it is okay to threaten to cut off a law abiding citizen’s head and breasts, amongst other grizzly things, just because they are sitting behind a computer screen. We do so out of a fear of being branded as misandrists or whiney bitches, but I for one believe that thousands of years of misogynist abuse is enough to warrant the arrest of a few socially decrepit individuals. It’s about time that society stood up against the harassment of women, not just online but in everyday life. Let’s face it, if this kind of thing happened in public we’d be worried about whether said internet trolls were up and coming serial killers, because truly, what sane person finds joy in such a pastime?

The absence of women from UK currency is just one of the countless examples whereby women are underrepresented; it is a tiny thread in a spider web of inequalities facing western women. The decision to take Elizabeth Fry off of the five pound note was just one of countless examples whereby the work of women is undervalued and overlooked; if we continue to let these apparently insignificant things slide women will continue to be the oppressed sex.

This time things will be different; Caroline Criado-Perez will be remembered for her good deeds and hailed as a pioneer for women’s equality. Let’s revel in her phenomenal achievement, celebrate all the wonderful men and women who contributed to her campaign, and look forward to many more future successes in the face of unfathomable adversity.

By Lora Jury

Saturday, 3 August 2013

It's A Troll's World

“Scary monsters are like Hula Hoops. They come in and out of fashion”-John Malkovich

Monsters are not really something we think about in daily life but it is fair to say that virtual trolling monster has become a harsh reality with the dawn of the new millennium. In line with the developments in feminism and the journey towards equality, opposition has grown hugely. Criticism of women was previously limited to tabloid newspapers and glossy magazines scrutinizing everything about women from their career choices to their bodies. We only have to take the recent ruthless criticism of Kim Kardashian’s weight gain-WHILST PREGNANT. Positively with the millennia advances in technology have made women suddenly more able to utilise accessible platforms to display their thoughts. Whilst overwhelmingly celebrated throughout society, the more visible opinions of influential women have led a small proportion, mostly men, quaking in their boots, desperate to silence the women fighting for equality. Named the faceless keyboard warriors, the ‘trolls’ as they have become commonly known, have prompted great debate.

Whilst trolling is not a new phenomenon, the regularity of it is. It hit the headlines of late, after the response of feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez, whose three month campaign to see Jane Austen on the new £10 note was finally successful. The Bank of England conceded that it was of crucial importance that the faces on our money should reflect the faces in our society.Cue celebrations and dreams of ‘future banknotes featuring Mary Seacole and Rosalind Franklin’ swimming around in the minds of many in Britain. Things have taken a rather sinister with highly questionable individuals descending into the ‘twittersphere’ to vent violent abuse at Criado- Perez. Just two of the tweets read “this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine”, and “Everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”.

Even retyping these quotes makes me feel quite sick to my stomach. It worries me how many people feel that it is ok not only to disrespect women publicly but to threaten their safety, using physical sexual power over others as a threat. Whilst it could be said the most sensible solution would be to ignoring it , why should women or anybody for that matter have to accept it?The tweets threatening rape and violence did not even stop there, moving on to publishing her address on the micro-blogging site. This surely goes way beyond freedom of expression! What shocks me most about the case is that it wasn’t just one person but that so many were directing vitriol at women more generally throughout society. MP Stella Creasey was threatened, and columnist Grace Dent even received threats regarding a bomb that had allegedly been planted outside her home.

Legal action has been taken with two men in their twenties having subsequently been arrested for harassment. Scotland Yard has launched an inquiry and Tony Wang the general manager of Twitter UK is issuing personal apologies to the women affected. The actions are of both necessary and positive but it is essential that the real focus should be placed on how to prevent the problem in the future. have consequently spearheaded the petition for a report abuse button on twitter, stating that the current method of reporting abuse is ineffective and too time consuming. At the time of writing the number of signatures on the petition stood at 120,000.

Feminist writer Caitlin Moran (author of the excellent and thought provoking ‘How to be a woman’) has also subsequently called for a boycott of twitter on the 5th of August. Whilst solutions are pondered, we can all show our support by boycotting twitter on ‘trolliday’. As Owen Jones, writing recently in The Independent commented, “Trolls don’t run the internet; neither do abusive men who issue rape threats to get women to shut up. We are the majority. And if we stand firm, and shout back as one, we will win. I hope you’ll join me in shouting back.”

Yasmin Levy-Miller

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The F Word

There are many taboo words in society that for some reason or another we're afraid to say,the above is one of them,well what is the f word it I hear you cry?Feminism, the new F word is feminism.Last night I went to a talk about feminism and 'lad' culture and its place in our society,it was extremely interesting with 3 seasoned academics in gender studies speaking on the matter.These were Dr Madeleine Davies,Professor Grace Ioppolo and Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. They all made very interesting points and spoke much better than I could ever dream of doing,first they acknowledged that it wasn't a new phenomenon, no 'lads' have been around since the dawn of time,but with advances in technology there are many more platforms the favourites being facebook and twitter.After they spoke it was opened up into a discussion where anyone could make a comment or ask a question.
At this point it is important to note several things,the room was full (although when you think of the thousands of students at Reading University it was barely a sprinkle).It was mainly girls with around seven or eight particularly brave boys who came along to fight their corner oh and there was free cake.The victoria sponge topped with strawberries was the nicest victoria sponge I have EVER tasted,but that's not really relevant.Girls are scared to come along to such events,even worse they are scared to label themselves feminists because of the connotations attached to it;lesbian,man hater,ugly,woman hater,bra burner the list goes on and on.There are many women who are feminists but just don't know it yet and others who truly believe that enough progress has been made so we can all stop talking about it.Later on that night I had an early hours of the morning,post night out conversation with one of my flatmates who had attended the talk with me and she said that the people holding women back are women.I can't help but in many cases agree,women are the harshest critics of women,when I go out I am much more worried about what girls will say about how I look than what boys will say,boys don't notice if a girl's mascara is lumpy or if her foundation isn't blended properly but it's girls that do and then we complain about low self esteem.Tina Fey's character in Mean Girls sums it up perfectly in the scene after the burn book gets released and all of the girls have been fighting.She says 'you've got to stop calling each other sluts and whores because it only makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores'.
There is an assumption in the Western World that women who sleep around are somehow trying to validate their existence,or that they can't get the guy or girl they really want but it's not always true some women just like to have a lot of sex with a lot of different people.Who says that's not ok?Women.It's ok for men to sleep around,they're labelled as a legend,a lad or a lothario. Therein lies the problem.One girl spoke about choice and how feminism is all about choice and I completely agree,don't all women or men that would call themselves a feminist believe in choice?The aforementioned flatmate later pointed out that the choice argument was age old and perpetually regurgitated in all feminist debates even though we all agree.The point she made is the acceptance of choice-I'd never really thought of it that way.One of the main things that holds women back is not the lack of choice but the lack of acceptance of that choice,whether that be to stay at home,or not to have children or sleep around.It is time to start accepting the choices that are made by others and respecting them because they are theirs,time to stop asserting that some choices are better than others and that some are right and others wrong.In my last example I refer to the first girl that put her hand up when the discussion was opened up,her initial points were well executed and informative but then she moved somewhere that I really didn't like.She criticised Beyonce Knowles Carter-better known as just Beyonce (at this point I must point out that although I am an avid fan my judgement is not clouded).She bemoaned Beyonce's labelling of herself as a feminist singing about independent women,I assume referring to the song 'Run the World' in which she sings 'Boy you know you love it how we smart enough to make these millions,strong enough to bear the children and then get back to business'.This woman, a 26 year old mature student stated that the message Beyonce was delivering was and I quote 'invalidated' by the lack of clothes that she wears whilst performing.I put my hand up a while later and strongly disagreed,this I felt summarised the issue of choice-Beyonce is immensely powerful as a performer and contributor to popular culture,she can do what she likes,she could go out dressed in a nun's habit and still look beautiful.So why does it matter?if the message is being delivered it is being delivered and it shouldn't ever matter in what package that message comes in.
I'll leave you with this,every woman should be proud to have feminist tatooed across her forehead for the world to see because as Kate Nash so eloquently stated "feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or a ‘dyke’, it means you believe in equality".Can any woman really sit back and say that she disagrees?I don't think so.
P.S.If you didn't like it and think I'm a crazy radical that's fine,I'm too busy burning my bra to care ;)

Yasmin Levy-Miller

Friday, 21 June 2013

Link to 'Storified' live tweets from the Lad Culture talk

Cake and Fighting Spirit- Talk on Lad Culture

“We're moving into a bigger room” was the necessary announcement from the surprised and elated members of the Reading University Women's Campaign and the speakers: Dr Madeleine Davies, Professor Grace Ioppolo, and Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. This event on the topic of “Laddism” was inspired by the concerns felt to be present in many of the audience's comments and questions at the previous talk that was organised for International Women's Day in March. ( )
The unanticipated level of attendance of the first event was exceeded last night, despite the expected difficulty of it being held at the end of Summer term. Encouragingly there were some faces we recognised and even more wonderfully, a great number of male audience members! With everyone squeezed in, sat on the floor in some cases, and a cake of some kind in hand, the talk began.
Reading University's Women's Campaign live tweeted the event for those self-defining Feminists or curious parties who were unable to attend. The tweets included the main points of the talks and the following discussion. Thanks to the 140 character limit they often beg to be re-tweeted as succinct Feminist mantras, for example: “We are not in a post feminist society. No way. Definitely not“ and “We need to make #shoutingback a habit”.
Through references to key Feminist texts such as Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own and Susie Orbach's Fat Is A Feminist Issue, insightful observations about the recent NUS report on sexism at Universities and a powerpoint presentation which connected Early Modern portraiture of women and current examples of sexualised advertising, the talks demonstrated that the issues facing women have not changed. The three speakers agreed that “Lad Culture” is a new name for the same process of insisting female inferiority in order to maintain male superiority; as one audience member acutely stated: “'Laddism' shows that it is still a man's world.”
Shocking personal examples from the speakers and the audience, and the commentary on the role which social media has begun to play in sexist “humour” showed that Laddism can be found in all spheres. Professor Grace Ioppolo recalled her experience of hearing a well regarded academic ask during a lecture given by his female colleague, “why is it all Feminists are so ugly you want to put a bag over their head?” Dr Madeleine Davies cited examples from Facebook, such as: underneath a picture of an injured women a caption stated “one out of three women are victims of domestic abuse”. A comment in response to the image was: “two out of three men aren't doing their job properly”.
A key concern raised by Dr Davies's examples and revelations from the student audience members about websites such as “Spotted: University of Reading Library”, (on this website female appearance is scrutinised to a high level, and humiliation seems to be the main aim,) was the power the internet and its anonymity seems to galvanize in its users. Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein also suggested that this kind of effect is produced through the consumption of alcohol, which she argued was repeatedly mentioned in the NUS report but was not drawn as part of the conclusion due to the communal difficulties in our attitudes regarding alcohol.
It appears that being a “lad” is an exaggerated manifestation of being male. Through excessive consumption of alcohol which is encouraged within the culture and the use of anonymous social media, “lads” are able to overcome the male fear of losing their superiority which Dr Davies quoted from Virginia Woolf and which describes Professor Ioppolo's anecdote about the male academic perfectly: “Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority.
Although much of the discussion was about issues which are difficult to overcome, a lot was learnt and the following seem to be at the forefront of people's worried, but hopeful minds: the connection between alcohol and sexism, are women under a new kind of surveillance due to social media, are educational spaces such as the library at risk of becoming threatening and what are the best ways to respond to sexism which is disguised as “humour”? Despite the somewhat overwhelming recognition of the challenges facing us and their frustratingly enduring quality, the event was inspiring and filled a sense of respect and pride for Feminism. Dr Davies's closing words at the event showed the communal willingness to protest and the optimistic spirit within the room: “Let's fortify ourselves for the fight with cake!”

By Ellie Cox

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Next Meeting

A little short notice I do apologise,
Meeting in Cafe Mondial tomorrow (Thursday 13/06) at 1pm.
Hope you can all be there!

We'll be discussing plans, events, and a general chit-chat.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Question Time, Jerry Hayes, rape apology, and a lack of an apology.

I was, as many others were utterly shocked by Jerry Hayes comments on Question Time. When I first heard it, I almost simultaneously broke my laptop, TV and my foot as I jumped up in a fit of anger. Then I took to twitter to express my outrage, posted in my Uni's Women's campaign group Facebook page, and complained to the BBC.
I'm not going to lie, I didn't get a lot of sleep that night (getting angry before going to bed is never a good idea), I woke up and with the Women's campaign group, we set up the petition to try and get him to apologise. Something Mr Hayes is yet to do, (and yet to reply to my tweets informing him so).

Why did the Women's campaign group and I want to set up this petition? Simple.
We do not feel that his comments were acceptable. To say that rape cases that did not end in conviction are "clearly not rape" is down-right wrong. Does every crime that doesn't end in a conviction stop being a crime? No. His comments are severely damaging to those who have experienced, know those who have experienced rape or sexual assault or those who fight for justice. His comments implied that these people are liars, if there is no conviction then there is no rape, therefore the defendant is lying.

In a culture that makes it difficult for survivors to come forward and report this heinous crime, for them to naturally not to be believed, despite the fact the CPS have published a report showing how rare false rape allegations actually are. Mr Hayes comments do nothing to dispel these myths, that are perpetuated by the culture we live in, the media and by MRAs. Furthermore the fact that Mr Hayes is a barrister, works within the judicial system, makes it even more concerning, as it has been well documented how stressful and humiliating the court process can be for the survivor, as shown in many cases, some where the victim has ended up committing suicide because of the ordeal of the courtroom.

The least this event will cause, is an awareness of the attitudes that some people hold about rape cases, maybe the outrage we show will make people think - That's what I'm hoping anyway. We may not get an apology out of Mr Hayes, as shown by his comments on his blog. I doubt he will really, but hopefully with this petition, we can show our outrage. The fact he mentioned the petition, and the abuse he has been getting on twitter, resulting in him writing that post, must have had an impact - maybe he realises what he said was wrong? - But then again, why won't he just hold his hands up and say sorry I didn't word it better, that's not what I meant. - Maybe he's too stubborn to admit, the wording, the comment, was wrong.

Sadly (for him) I am also stubborn, so we won't stop until we get a proper apology.

He also says in his blog, that this is an issue of free speech. Why? We have every right to petition what he said - that's us using our free speech. We just want him to realise what he said was wrong, and offensive. Personally I can't see why we are hurting his free speech. With free speech he has the right to say ignorant things, but we will call him out, educate, and show him why he is wrong. That's the glory of free speech, debate.

So read, sign & share the petition. The one which apparently Mugabe would be proud of.

- Lauren Read (

Thursday, 4 April 2013

LAD culture and Jack Rivlin's article

LAD culture, something we see everyday at University, from posts/pictures on Facebook to being shouted at, groped or objectified on campus or in a club. It should be obvious to anyone on campus that this LAD culture is inherently sexist, and these jokes are generally just passed off as 'banter'. If you protest or call them out on their sexism, the general response will be to 'get a sense of humour' or that you 'don't get the banter', or 'it's not sexist, it's just a joke', or even 'shut up and get back in the kitchen'. - I suppose at least that one shows that they realise they're being misogynistic (hopefully anyway), but it's still horrific language. This was common and general knowledge - LAD culture was about drinking until you're paralytic, doing idiotic things, and saying idiotic things that are generally sexist or homophobic - and in my experience from the LADs in halls last year, racist as well.

Then came along Jack Rivlin's article which can be read here in the Telegraph yesterday, protecting and frankly misunderstanding LAD culture and attempting to rip to shreds the NUS's report on the subject 'That's what she said'. Rivlin, who is the editor of the student newspaper the Tab, which is in my opinion the tabloid of student journalism.

He seems to be mansplaining a bit here, telling women what they shouldn't find sexist. And he clearly hasn't properly read the NUS report, maybe he read a summary on it, once, maybe. Maybe he just read the title and left it at that. But that may be giving him too much credit. His conclusion from whatever research he did (which is none I'm assuming), is that the NUS and us man-hating feminists (bringing up that old chestnut, eh Rivlin?) believes that LAD = Rapist.

It doesn't. Nowhere in report, pretty much no feminist, post-2nd wave feminism from the 1970s thinks that. Now I'm going to make this big, to emphasise it.

LAD =/= Rapist.

What LAD culture does do is support rape culture, by normalising rape and VAWG, making it something to laugh at, making jokes about women that make them seem like second-class citizens. The fact that Rivlin doesn't see this is really worrying. By perpetuating and supporting rape culture, it doesn't automatically make you a rapist. We know that, I'm sure you know that - then why doesn't Rivlin know that? & FYI just because you don't know anyone that has been 'slutdropped' doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Slut-shaming is a massive problem and especially within LAD culture. They appear to love sex and yet any girl who feels the same (which they have every right to do) is a slut in their eyes.

My experiences and those of my female friends, as women, can tell Rivlin quite definitely that LAD culture is sexist - it's not the only place where sexism occurs, but with us and the NUS being concerned about Uni (because that is where we are); that is where we are going to write about! We're not jealous of these LADs because they are the 'cool kids in the playground' - that was something we all left behind in highschool, but it seems that Rivlin didn't. - We are trying to combat LAD culture in every way we can because it tries to humiliate, patronise, and knock the confidence of female students. If you're called a slut, or you are called a whale/pig/dog - that is going to hurt your confidence. Being called names, groped, harassed, assaulted just because of your gender is wrong, and this is something that LAD culture does. We are against LAD culture because it is misogynistic.

But then again with me being a feminist, that *obviously* means I hate men, so Rivlin and I; we're not going to see eye-to-eye right? Wrong. I, as Rivlin has also commented, know people who do call themselves as LADs and they don't make sexist jokes (well not when I'm around anyway) - but the few LADs that he knows (because he was once on his Uni's Rugby team and they didn't say anything he considers sexist), and the LADs that I know, cannot speak for the entire of the LAD subculture. The majority of the LADs at our Uni, and at other Uni's, do make sexist jokes, say sexist and misogynistic things, and do misogynistic things. I don't need a man to tell me to 'calm down' and that it's not sexist. IT IS SEXIST.

Or maybe I just don't 'get' the banter.

- Lauren Read (

Monday, 25 March 2013

Gender stereoptyping in magazines

Yesterday I was unfortunate enough to see a copy of The Sun's men's magazine. Despite The Sun duly receiving criticism for Page 3 (Sign the petition to end Page 3 if you haven't already) they decided to produce a male magazine laden with sexism. This is even obvious from the website:
A magazine for men therefore there has to be a 'sexy' women as the first picture?!
This is followed by a feature where a 'hot girl' tells a joke, a joke that is supposed to humour only men. (I feel there's also a criticism of female comedians in this feature...)

As well as this obvious objectification, this magazine, alongside Fabulous magazine that it was adjoined with, promote ridiculous gender stereotypes. The first page of the magazine for men had a picture telling them cuts of meat...because only men like meat?!
Although the argument of "separatism" does raise debate in itself, it seems generally (very generally) men and women have some different interests. (I say "it seems" as this to me is mainly due to society's gender stereotyping). However, a magazine can still be aimed at a particular sex as there are magazines aimed at different ages, races or of a particular sexuality. This can be seen from Stylist, a free magazine given out in London, that is aimed at women but doesn't just assume that: they will want to cook family meals in comparison to no mention of cooking in a men's magazine; they want to read ChickLit (although I'm not devaluing this literature) in comparison to men reading Stephen King; women want cleaning and household tips (Magazines such as Best etc.) in comparison to business tips for a man. Stylist magazine doesn't give women advice on how they can please others in particular men with the way they look or what they can do sexually, but how to be happy and successful in themselves.

I also need to consider the POV of a man; perhaps they want a magazine where there are book reviews that do not assume they like a certain type of literature or want recipes for meals they can cook for other people. Furthermore, a big problem of these male magazines in particular is that they assume all men  want to stare at boobs. Not only is this reducing men down to ape like creatures, which those who I have spoke to do not appreciate, but also that the norm is for men to be heterosexual. Although this is also a problem in magazine's for women at least we can flick through in the dentist without seeing a penis protruding from the pages.

Therefore, why can't we have magazines that perhaps do interest different sexes (I can't deny I love clothes more than all the men I know put together): but do not presume that these differences are based on stereotypes that objectify and degrade women to objects that are there to please men and to look after people.

Antonia Sales

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Are Men and Women Treated Differently in the Classroom? - "The Chilly Classroom".

I first heard of the concept/theory "The Chilly Classroom" in a Feminist talk at my university. I can imagine there are lots of people who were like me, had never heard of it. It is a study which has looked at the way faculty staff, both men and women behave towards women and girls in a classroom setting. I have found this quite fascinating and wanted to share my thoughts on the whole concept and my experience of it.

- The Chilly Climate by Bernice R. Sandler [LINK]
- List of Articles related to "The Chilly Classroom" [LINK]
  Having been in education for long time like most people I feel I have good experience of class participation and the general environment of education. For me, I have noticed that girls do tend to speak less in class. But so do some boys. Is it just that they are more introverted or shy and find it more difficult to contribute?  that I look back at the 15 years I have experienced in education, I would say that I have a mixed view. I believe I have experienced a behavour from teachers, which have dismissed my contribution. At times this has prevented me from wanting to take part in the future. Although this study looks at the whole idea on a larger scale. Those who have studied this concept, suggest that as a whole this behavour towards girls in school is reflected back in the society and is having a more detrimental effect that people may realise. 
Many may see the concept that all girls are treated negatively in a classroom setting to be generalising and it is. This theory does not suggest it happens in all classrooms, by all people, but that is happened significantly enough to be damaging to society.

My own experiences:
Throughout school, I can admit that I have enjoyed contributing in class. In subjects I enjoyed and felt confident in I have often been able to state my ideas and opinions easily. However I have found myself often putting my hand, the teacher acknowleging me and asking me to speak when someone would then interupt by speaking out. Now, I have found there is often confusion in class participation, some teachers like their students to put their hands up but then some prefer for students to just shout out ideas. This often causes more loud and confident students to speak more compared to quiter students, that may have something good to say, but aren't given the chance to.
 I have found trying to shout out quite difficult although I think I have done better as I went to A-level and University. That is one example where I see my own experiences reflected in this Chilly Classroom idea.

However recently in one of my university seminars I have noticed the way a lecturer responds to to students in class debate and have found that they are encouraging this chilly classroom effect in an alarming way. I find it quite frustrating. One situation that I found myself in. 
  • Answering a question, the response I get  "Well yes, that is basically what [male student] said" I mean! what? I found it very discouraging when someone's contribution is dismissed and claimed as just repeating someone else. Why then ask the question in the first place?
  • The lecturer/seminar leader "Come on girls, all I am hearing are the guys contributing". Saying this is not going to encourage women to speak.
  • Answers given by women in the class often criticised and dismissed. The guys can say pretty much the same but you get this response. "What do you mean?", Name of student used as encouragement. "Yes, exactly!", " I kind of see what you saying".
 Now, maybe I have just experienced a situation that is not necessarily common, and is not necessary about gender but I feel in my experience that it did play a part.  By dimissing shy people's contribution (male and female) it will make them even more likely not to participate. By highlighing that the males are dominating the discussion and turning it into a competition between men and women is not helpful. grr! 
 Although I don't think this has effected me individually. I can imagine for some girls constantly having to deal with this it will reduce their confidence and self-esteem. Which then reduces the belief in themselves to achieve highly. 

In Summary: Of the select articles written on the topic, it is not about critising those who treat women and girls negatively in the classroom. Firstly, it is clear that it is often not intentional. Many have written of ways in which to "warm up" the chilly classroom. Advice for both teachers and students to prevent women and girls being treated differently in education.
All I would ask is that next time you're in a seminar, classroom or meeting, just observe what is going on. You may realise it is more common than you think!

 If you have experienced anything similar, please comment, we want to hear! 

By Gemma Lenton - (

Junction 11 Podcast

Last week I was interviewed on Junction 11's Cat Chat. We discuss why we need a Women's Officer, what I plan to do and everyday problems women (particularly students) face. I'd never done anything like it before so I don't express what I wanted to say as clearly as I would have liked and there's so much more we could have spoken about. But have a listen and if you have any questions you can email me at:
Once again I'd like to thank Lora and Gina for having me on their show and I can't wait to work with them more in the future.

Also here's a link to the NUS report on Lad Culture that we were talking about:'s%20what%20she%20said%20full%20report%20Final%20web.pdf
Be warned it will shock you but remember this goes on everyday on campus!!! This needs to be changed and we will be started campaigns on this in the summer and throughout next year!!

More blogs up soon so keep an eye out!
Antonia Sales

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Steubenville and rape culture

In light of recent events in Steubenville, and the countless other rape trials, cases, and attacks that don't even make it to trial; it seems appropriate to write about the prevalent rape culture that is haunting society.

Rape culture is describing the culture in which we live, one which teaches 'don't get raped' instead of 'don't rape', teaches people to be on constant guard against attack, and if they sadly do get attacked, then it is their fault, because they did something 'wrong', or they brought the attack on themselves (something I will never fully, truly understand, as the perpetrator should be human enough to realise what they are doing is wrong) or they won't be believed, because it is a common misconception that the numbers of false allegations is high, which it definitely is not. It is also the culture that finds it appropriate to trivialise rape, through jokes: jokes about victims, jokes about rapists, and jokes about rape generally. - the sort of thing that makes you really hate society, and to will for some kind of revolution to make it all change.

That is a very sketchy definition of rape culture, but it will do for now. We saw how pervasive rape culture really was in Steubenville, from the comments on social media outlets about how the survivor 'made the whole story up' and 'she was drunk, what did she expect', to CNN's shocking coverage of the events, where they sympathised with the rapists, not those young footballers - those rising stars - but rapists, because that is what they are. The news coverage did not mention how the survivor's life will be ruined as a result of what they did to her, but they focused on how the rapists lives will be ruined - particularly on the comment the rapist Richmond made 'my life is over, no one will want me now'.  Why focus on their lives? They made the decision to attack and humiliate that poor girl, she had no choice in what happened, and yet her life will be deeply affected and probably ruined. An example is the two young girls who were arrested yesterday for sending the survivor death threats on social media - possibly because of Fox news's (and other news channels) actions of not bleeping out the survivor's name when showing a VT of the trial.

The use of social media is what propelled the case into the public domain. Mays and Richmond were seen in photos and videos laughing about what they did, as shown in the video that the group Anonymous leaked. (TW: rape, jokes about rape: ), social media is also where comments about the case were made. But luckily social media is also the place where many, (I'm tempted to say, those who are level-headed and believe in justice, but I probably shouldn't) came back to fight against the rape apology, sympathy for the rapists, and the victim-blaming that has occurred so many times. It is also the place that this petition to get CNN to apologise for their appalling reporting of the trial started - which if you haven't yet, you really should sign:

What made Steubenville so prominent was because of social media, so hopefully through social media we can show people, who have a rose-tinted view of society, how prevalent rape culture really is, and maybe because of this, and other landmark cases, we can maybe start to change society, and how it views rape; get the conviction rape of rapists up, because fewer than one out of 30 rape survivors can get the justice they deserve, by having their rapist convicted. (source: ).

Rape culture needs to be extinguished, and only through action and by showing the world how present rape culture is, can we even start to implement these changes.#

- Lauren Read

Junction 11 Radio Show

Today I appeared on Lora Jury and Gina Toor's Junction 11 Radio show: Cat Chat. We were discussing Lad Culture, why Reading Uni needs a Women's Officer and obstacles women face at Uni and in the workplace. A podcast will be up soon so I'll post the link! I just wanted to thank them for asking me on the show and also tell everyone to listen to them in the future because they have some really interesting conversations (It's like Women's Hour :D) and play some great music!
Here's there FB page:

Antonia Sales

Monday, 18 March 2013

Welcome to the Reading University Women's Campaign Group's blog!

We'll try to post on here regularly and try to get some good discussions going.
If anyone has any articles/posts they'd like to discuss, post a comment and we can try and start one!
Different members will try and keep the blog updated over Easter, then it'll start fully when we're back for Summer term :)

- Lauren