Comment, Education, Politics

Norwegian Egalitarianism is a Detriment to the Education System

Norway’s egalitarian attitude to most things has rarely been viewed in a negative light. The national insistence upon democracy and equality (although at times irritatingly self-congratulatory) is an inspiring sentiment for a country. Especially, for a rich one – the Norwegians could have just hoarded all the oil money and run off into the Norwegian woods eating pølse and vaffler, whilst refusing to help any struggling minorities. Yet they didn’t, and although the new government may be posing a threat to this attitude, Norway has created one of the largest welfare systems in the world. Even as someone coming from a relatively liberal place like England, the rhetoric around welfare is refreshing.

Inevitably, this attitude manifests itself within other social areas of Norway, particularly its education system. Whilst the Norwegian government has plenty to spend on creating the best education system possible (if the marble pillars outside the library are testament to anything), the University of Oslo, the biggest university in Norway, is only rated 185th in the world by The Times Higher Education. Norway has the tools, not to mention the money, to become one of the best in the world, but it’s not. If employing the best academics and offering research grants is doable, then where exactly is Norway going wrong?

The attitude to learning, particularly when it comes to the humanities, is a problem. In a society set up to benefit the largest number of people rather than the privileged few, entry into university is undemanding. Although this system may be best for a society with education inequality lower down (see England’s unforgivable perpetualisation of the private school system), Norway’s school system is equal enough to allow it to be more selective when it comes to university education.

At the risk of making even more generalising statements about the Norwegian community, their total lack of competitiveness bodes badly for an education system that needs people to aspire and fight for the best they can achieve. Students are reticent to argue in order to avoid conflicting in their views. Unfortunately for a subject like English Literature or History that requires frequent critical analyses, often at the expense of fellow students, this attitude creates a fruitless environment for work.

Indeed, the University of Oslo even struggles to find teachers for its humanities department. A conversation with a masters student exposed the sheer desperation of the Norwegian system, after he has been employed to teach irrespective of his perhaps inexperience in the subject. After all, he has only been studying English for 4 years, only one year more than some of the students in the class. The informal nature of employing staff who are not quite up to scratch, and the desperation that has lead UiO to be put in this position must say something about the education system. What exactly is to blame for the dire lack of teaching staff in certain departments?

It is truth universally acknowledged that teaching can be irrevocably dull if the students aren’t interested. Teaching is a fulfilling career, but only if you are around students who want to learn, and with this fact we have highlighted one of the painful truths about the Norwegian education system: whilst more demanding subjects like medicine or law may draw more ambitions students (as they are more difficult to gain entry to at UiO), subjects like English or History are full of clever Norwegian who aren’t fulfilling their potential, because of a cultural reluctance to challenge and engage. So academics don’t want to come and teach. Compared to the English University system, the system it is less demanding, with fewer students willing to take risks and contribute in class.

Norway’s total defiance towards creating a combative environment in all areas of Norwegian culture is admirable but flawed. This egalitarian attitude to learning means although many are able to have a higher education, the standard is low. Students need to fight the Nordic urge for everyone to be equal when it comes to education, as the classroom is a place of critical thinking, not ignorant equality.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Originally published for The Moose in October 2013

Advertisements
Standard
Comment, Feminism

The Problem with ‘Rebranding’ Feminism

It’s a difficult one, this feminism thing. Some people just don’t get it, no matter how many times Wikipedia.org/wiki/feminism is read to them, off an iPhone, during a slightly-too-heated conversation at a social gathering. According to The Vagenda magazine, it’s in need of a makeover. Brandishing a metaphorical mascara brush, The Vagenda and Elle magazine (which, presumably, like most women’s magazines, is quite evil? I don’t know, I stopped buying them when I became intellectually sentient), have teamed up to ‘rebrand’ feminism, one pink infographic at a time.

The campaign aims to ‘bringing gender equality to a larger audience’. It gives you a piece of paper, with the words ‘I’m a woman and…’ and encourages you to define in your own terms what it is be a lady. It’s notably alike to the ‘I’m a feminist because…’ campaign with a similar sentiment behind it: expose how normal it is to be a feminist, and consequently show others that they themselves are probably feminists too, or else should be.

The Vagenda’s ambition to popularise feminism is a noble one. There will always be a dichotomy between popularising feminism, and maintaining a non-watered-down definition of it. This is because some people don’t have time, understandably, to sit down and read Butler, de Beauvoir, Woolf, or indeed all the writings that you need to understand a complex political and ideological movement. Also, people are stupid. Sometimes people don’t care. So the challenge comes to reach these people, who aimlessly use the word ‘pussy’ to degrade a man, or ‘slut’ to degrade a woman, without realizing why that’s fucked up. Popularising feminism, as The Vagenda have done so bloody successfully, is a brilliant ambition, and has been what they’ve been doing for the past two years. A ‘rebrand’, however, is different.

To ‘rebrand’ feminism implicitly condemns the current ‘branding’ of feminism (which is already a reductive way to look at an important empowering movement). Whereas popularising it uses humour, social media, and penetrable subject matter to engage people, a ‘rebrand’ appeases those who have mischaracterised feminism in the past. The ‘rebrand’ has to first agree with the reductive, incorrect stereotypes that exist within society around feminism, in order to re-establish a definition. No one decided to ‘rebrand’ being pro-gay rights, because even though many people probably have homophobic misconceptions about the gay community, to appease those people with a rebranding is to let them win. It is to say ‘sure, feminism was about man hating [when clearly, it never was], but now, look! We’re in a glossy magazine so we’ve changed that all, we’re redefining it’.

It’s problematic. Feminism is about equal rights, and to re-market feminism in a simplistic, saccharin campaign, like the one in Elle, undermines a belief that it wasn’t feminism’s fault that people misunderstood it, but the fault of those too narrow-minded to think about it. It displaces the blame to the people who are pre-rebrand feminists – it’s your fault people don’t like feminism, so we’re fixing that.

I think this is nicely summed up in an article by the New York website The Cut that was (bizarrely) retweeted by The Vagenda:

‘Nobody likes feminists. Marissa Mayer famously avoids identifying as a “feminist,” as does virtually every (female) celebrity who gets asked. In a University of Toronto study, participants found feminists so unlikeable — “man-hating” and “unhygienic” — they were actually less likely to support women’s equality. Thank god Elle U.K. elected to “re-brand” feminism’

I mean, da fuq? If this campaign brings feminism to a wider audience, it does so by endorsing every bullshit idea about feminism, and encourages other to do so as well. The Vagenda has, in my opinion, been one of the most important creations in modern feminism, and I will often mindlessly imbibe anything they say like the word of God. However, what kind of self-proclaimed opinion writer would I be if I didn’t find small pedantic fault with anything that’s vaguely linked to my ideological spectrum, right? So it breaks my small, black, often unused heart to criticize a campaign they stand for, but ‘I’m a woman and’ I don’t need you to ‘rebrand’ feminism for me to like it. It was already great.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Standard
Comment, Politics

Cameron’s ‘Um-ing and Ah-ing’ Porn Guidelines Show a Party Unwilling to Commit to Important Issues

Cameron’s endearing attempt to curve the unruly eyes of the nation seems to have gone tits up. After this week announcing his intentions to get those blasted gosh damn ruddy images away from our eyes, his decision has been met with a backlash of skepticism.

Too afraid to take a clear moral stance on porn, Cameron’s tokenistic legislature advice is shaky at the best of times. Not to mention, that it has come conveniently at a time when Tory Strategist Lynton Crosby has been facing the heat on a variety of impressive failures (encouraging private health care companies to take advantage of ‘failings’ in the NHS and advising the party to drop the blank packaging for cigarettes on behalf of Tabacco Company, Philip Morris International – to name a few). Whilst Toeing the party line, Cameron’s bumbling inability to talk about porn, let alone define where he and his party stand on porn, trivializes his vague attempts to make any change. He oozes ambiguity when addressing such issues; his approach underlies this wider party policy making devoid of clear moral foundations.

Even superficially his guidelines don’t really work, and the ISPs know this. The idea of computers having built in porn filters is flawed for a variety of reasons. The World Wide Web is a glorious retreat because you can do whatever the hell you want to, without having to have an awkward phone conversation with someone from BT about your sexual preferences. Limiting the nation’s ability to watch ‘Busty Blonde Takes it in Various Orifices’ seems counter-productive for an industry marketed on that freedom. Furthermore, making porn an opt-in package will fail to hoax a 7 year-old; in an age where most children can use a Mac before they can read, they’re certainly going to be able to circumvent a ticked box. And, even if they can’t work out how to hop over this fence unaided, Google’s always there with its wealth of knowledge. Displacing the responsibility from the government to internet service providers makes for an unstable policy, one that won’t protect anyone except the Tories themselves.

Yet the essential problem with Cameron’s guidelines is that they’re floating in an abyss of ideology. Apart from the overused assortment of pejoratives he employs to describe porn, it‘s unclear where the Prime Minister himself actually stands on the issue. True, it is a ‘tricky area’ – is porn bad because of the way it depicts women? Or is porn bad because it’s too explicit for children? By taking the soft route, Cameron implicitly avoids making any genuinely persuasive arguments about porn. A glorious moment occurred on Radio Four’s ‘Women’s Hour’ when Cameron was faced with the question ‘How do I watch porn without my wife knowing?’. It was an opportune moment to define his ideas, yet all he managed was to blusteringly avoid the question, exemplifying this lack of commitment to any important beliefs.

The problem is that porn is not innately ‘evil’, and understanding what sex is from a young age is not necessarily damaging. Amateur porn is probably better than Hollywood style vagina-like-a-Barbie porn. Exploring your sexuality, especially for those from the LGBT community, is far from problematic. Sex is always going to be a fundamental part of society, and writing off porn because it’s ‘vulgar’ or uncomfortable is a painfully naïve approach to the subject. The real issue, for many people currently, is that porn homogenises the power dynamics in a relationship. Porn is oppressive. Porn is degrading. Condemning porn for being too sexually graphic for children – being anti-sex rather than anti-sexism – skirts around the real issues in the debate.

Even though Cameron took extra care to show us how much of his ‘personal time’ (wink wink, nudge nudge) has been put into these guidelines, they are frustratingly emblematic of a political system filled with people unable to consistently make decisions founded on clear morals. The Prime Minister is representative of, and even typifies, this dangerous trend. This was demonstrated brilliantly when Jane Garvey pulled out a copy of The Sun on air and turned to page three with ol’ Davey Cameron sitting next to her, and all he could offer was a barely mumbled argument about ‘choice’. Good job, mate.

Feminism for the Conservative Party (or indeed any party bar Green) needs to become an overarching issue if they want to be on the path of freedom from the restrictions of a coalition. Cameron’s reservations to commit to any true feminist legislation show a party too tied up in its loyalties to the backbenchers. The ‘war on porn’ needs to stop being a vague mess of semantic changes and British awkwardness, and become a real commitment to controlling something that, at the moment, is violent and pernicious for men and women alike.

Standard
Comment, Feminism

The Feminists are Reclaiming the Internet

For many years, the media was the enemy of feminism. The movement was mischaracterised, tainted, and exploited, condemned as weird and unfashionable. Undressed and muted like helpless Page Three models dead behind the eyes, feminism was demonised for the advantage of the ruling ‘first sex’. To this day women (and men) still hesitate to self-identify as a feminist, just in case the moment the phrase passes your lips you immediately become a hairy lesbian butch evil angry radical, breasts hanging all over the bloody place.

But 2013 is year of the comeback. It’s the year when feminism gets cool. I mean, it’s always been cool, but you had to be particularly cool to notice it, so like, don’t worry if you missed it. It’s the year of the Vagenda, the Spare Rib magazine, Ladybeard Magazine. It’s the year The New Statesman gets equal female and male columnists. If you weren’t brandishing your Butler Manifesto, now is the time.

If we’re getting technical, I think maybe this cool wave (official technical term) began last year. In 2012, came the wildly, almost painfully successful How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. Although arguably more an autobiography with some bits about pubic hair thrown in, the book took feminism to the W H Smith top 10, sitting awkwardly between a trashy celebrity autobiography and a diet book. People heralded it as important, but not necessarily because of its content. In a hot rush of discarded shavers and cellulite cream, the book changed the public perception of feminism.

And thus ensued fourth wave feminism. A transition via the internet, to wide spread popularity. It inspired the Vagenda, an online ‘magazine’, created by Rhiannon Lucy Coslett and Holly Baxter, two graduates who thought ‘fuck this, I’m making feminism funny’. And boy did they succeed. Their website had 10,000 hits after the first few hours of it’s launch, and has continued to grow exponentially in popularity, landing the two a book deal. Its ironically pink layout, with the tag line ‘Like King Lear, but for Girls’ taken from Grazia Magazine’s review of ‘The Iron Lady’ is a honey pot of brilliant, hilarious, populist female (and occasional male) writing.

The Vagenda is a particularly effective as a tool to discuss feminism because it works so perfectly in our digital age. It’s humorous enough to post on your friend’s Facebook page (and you make sure not to message it to them, so all can see how gloriously intelligent and zeitgeisty you are to have found such a link). For anyone who thought feminism was unfunny and aggressive, the site undoes all the pernicious stereotyping. All whilst you lol.

A gap has now opened in the market for a new type of female magazine. One that doesn’t tell you to love yourself only if you’re skinny, having precisely enough sex, pretty, exercising, rich, powerful, great at blow jobs and able to make gruyere tartlets. Spare Rib, a magazine that was revolutionary in the 70s, tackling feminist issues at a time when rape was still legal in marriage, is coming back for a revival this year after it bowed out in 1993. Ladybeard, a reaction to shitty magazines like Cosmo and Grazia has recently raised enough money from its kickstarter to get off the ground. Both are testament to the changing attitudes of women, to women, and that this marks the end of the media being a platform used to subjugate.

There is a danger, however, to it all becoming too normalised. A few months ago, the vile that is ‘mumsnet’, a collection of middle class mothers with too much time between managing their pomegranate supply and buying the latest apple product for their 3 year old, published a survey condemning feminism as ‘irrelevant’. Apart from the fact that clearly a collection of women buying into gender constraints are probably not the ones to go asking about feminism, the survey highlighted the apathy that can be cultivated at the point where feminism becomes wide-spread. ‘Well we have the vote, so I mean, what more could we want?’ Well, imaginary-person-solely-created-for-the-purpose-of-derision, there are a few things. There is more female unemployment than male; abortion and contraception is still an issue in places as close as Ireland. Female representation in parliament, boardrooms, even comedy panel shows is abysmal. People still think Thatcher was a feminist – we definitely have a way to go.

Today is age of feminism. Even with the Daily Mail’s side bar of doom, women are reclaiming the media. The internet is a wonderful tool to give a voice to those previously unheard, and spread the hilarity that is emerging with a new wave a young feminist writers. The Vagenda has already been instrumental in this change, and whilst we may still have to combat things like ALL THE PORN EVER, I’m optimistic. Watch this space, feminism is getting trendy.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Written May 2013 for the Leeds Student 

Standard
Comment, Feminism

Broadchurch and the Fallacy of the Stay-at-Home Dad

Written for The Vagenda, who kindly gave me permission to reproduce the article here
In the small town of Broadchurch lies a deep, dark secret. And no, it’s not that everyone looks way too middle class to be plumbers. Don’t be distracted by the artsy silhouette shots fellow feminists! Whilst Broadchurch may present progressive female characters, they all, much like Colman’s West Country accent, eventually disappear.
Just in case you’ve missed the hype (where have you been bro?) Broadchurch is this new show (obv) about a kid who gets murdered and we don’t know why or by whom so we spend 40 minutes of each episode looking at pretty scenery of the town and 10 minutes thinking it’s the dog, or maybe the baby, or maybe both. It is in many ways a great piece of British drama. It overpowers my prejudice towards ITV and allows me to listen to Tennant say muhrrr duhrrrr at least 5 times an episode. The cinematography is quite stunning, and the characters, despite the fact the all seem to be either a pedophile, possibly a pedophile or related to a pedophile, are all well written and powerfully acted.One of the best parts of Broadchurch is the character Ellie Miller, and not just because she’s played by Olivia Colman. Miller is a unique portrayal of a working mum on contemporary television. Yet whilst the show gives a great female character, the entire plot seems to mock us, the audience, for even considering the possibility of a successful independent mother. ‘A stay at home dad? Pffff. Men aren’t fulfilled by feeding babies yogurt and going to skate parks. Put a man in that position and he’ll probably resort to grooming a child, secretly develop a relationship of rampant hug sessions and then kill him in a violent rage. Yeah, best stick to the old ways eh?’As with all television shows, my fem-senses perk up, and my brain can’t seem let me just mindlessly imbibe the various cliff panoramas *curses brain*. At every turn, the show endeavors to undermine Ellie Miller. In the first episode, she loses her promotion to DI Alec Hardy, played by a moody David ‘Don’t Trust Anyone’ Tennant. ‘A Man?!’ she says ‘this area needs a female DI – what happened to I’ve got your back?’. The acknowledgement of her struggle only really seems to reinforce how they were probably right not to put her as the DI as she does do a lot of crying (because she’s a woman, obviously). Luckily, Colman does a fantastic job of turning what seems to be a weepy, Carrie Mathison-esque role, into a touching and funny character.Unfortunately, this progressive female character only lasts for about 8 minutes. The show seems so intent on emphasising the fact that it is literally ONLY because Miller’s husband, Joe, had nothing to do that he turned to grooming Danny, the boy who is murdered in the first episode. Notably, his reasons for doing so are as follows: ‘I wanted something that was mine. Ellie has her job, Tom [their kid] does his own thing’. You can just imagine him running through the past time possibilities – ‘cycling?…nah. Embroidery? …too fiddly…grooming a boy? …cheaper than a gym membership…’

It’s not only Joe Miller who can’t maintain a non-conventional male character. Danny’s father is adulterous, whilst DI Hardy literally has a defective heart. Most of the men seem to be cold, unfaithful, or…er…a pedophile and the women, unsurprisingly, are almost all mothers. Although the show gives quite a good opportunity for female actors, the plot is just another example of a failed attempt at progressive depictions of female characters.

It’s just frustrating to see a successful television show make some attempt at inverting gender boundaries, only to undo it right at the end. From the beginning, I was deeply hoping that they’d just leave the stay-at-home dad character be. Don’t make him the killer. And certainly don’t make him the killer because he’s so fatally unfulfilled with his life. Sigh. Well I guess there’s always next series.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Written April 2013 
Standard
Comment, Feminism

Why Siding With the ‘Popular Lads’ Means Misogyny, Homophobia and Hatred

Lad culture’ – a topic that pushes buttons for feminists and free-thinkers alike. It’s a term that denotes casual sexism, homophobia and much more, all hidden under the banner of ‘a laugh’. A sugar coated-pill of hatred and condescension, sold as a supplement to ensure socially aptitude. May contain: that’s so ‘gay’, ‘your tits look great’ and ‘rape isn’t rape, it’s just surprise sex’. Nothing dangerous. Just a bit of banter.

What actually does seem ‘a laugh’ is that journalist like Jack Rivlin (who yesterday published a piece in the Daily Telegraph condemning those who critique lad culture as ‘prudish’ and abnormal) are oblivious to the innate irony of articles defending lad culture. Unfortunately for Jack, with every sentence he writes, he reinforces the argument against himself. With every sentence that excuses this kind of abuse that lad culture entails as ‘normal’ or being ‘cool’, with every joke like ‘are you a beer-drinking male who likes sport and having sex? Then I regret to inform you that you, sir, are a rapist’, he further shows why it’s so important to cut down lad culture at every turn. When broadsheets like The Telegraph can’t even see the problem of publishing a piece that defines trying to tackle issues of normalised rape as as ‘moral panic’, ‘hysteria’ and just ‘whingeing about the popular kids’, it just goes to show everyone is taking the pill, without even realising it.

The idiot who makes jokes about “surprise sex” and says women belong in the kitchen? He’s just that: an idiot… The rugby captain who loves casual sex and getting hammered? Sorry to break it to you, but that sounds to me like a normal guy enjoying his youth.’

Unfortunately, lad culture makes the rugby captain and the idiot the same person. It binds drinking, sex and social interaction, with sexism, joking about rape and domestic abuse. It pretends that it’s a ‘cool’, ‘boozy’ and ‘normal’ thing to do and essential to being a guy.  The term ‘lad’ becomes irreversibly attached to the male sense of identity, to the point where defending being ‘a lad’ becomes synonymous with defending being a man – the article constantly interchanges the two phrases. Calling out ‘lads’ as people who normalise rape doesn’t make them rapists, it just perpetuates a culture that undermines the reality of rape, which is destructively ignorant and harmful.

When I began University, I was labeled ‘a slut and ‘a whiney feminist’. In our halls of residence, we had a ‘lad of the month chart’ pinned to the wall opposite a nightclub poster with a girl on her knees and the tag line ‘Tequila: Come and Swallow’ (I presume it was a girl, the poster didn’t show her face, just her thong-clad arse). Women were, very kindly, allowed as contenders on the chart, as long as they were good enough to be branded ‘lads’. As long as they didn’t mind being called a ‘slut’ in place of their actual name, and could have ‘good banter’ as well.

The people perpetuating it by slut shaming and using phrases like ‘that’s gay’ weren’t always sexist; it just seemed like the fine, accepted thing to do, so they did it. And so it became the norm. If you had a lot of sex and were female, that was slutty and therefore bad. If your sexual preference meant you liked people of the same sex, then that was essentially the same as being really weird. If you had sex with a girl who wasn’t up for it, that was just a bit funny. No one questions it, because no one realised the reality of it.

 The irony of an article that justifies lad culture by perpetuating all its harms – the normalization of misogyny, homophobia and rape – is astounding. What people need to see is that eradicating lad culture isn’t specifically for women, or for homosexuals or for rape victims, as Jack seems to think, it’s for anyone who wants to stop being ignorant, and look outside a toxic haze that forces you define your worth by how insulting you can be. People finally need to see the pill for what it really is, plain and simple: hate.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Written April 2013

Standard
Comment, Feminism

A Debate From the 1950s

Has someone inadvertently transported the world back in time? Did we eradicate the history of feminism accidently? It’s 3am in the morning and I’m drinking an espresso out of bowl because I don’t have any mugs left?

These are all questions that sprung to mind when reflecting upon the repulsive incident of sexism that occurred this weekend at a debating competition in Glasgow. Last weekend, two female debaters were heckled (by members of the union attending the debate) – not because they disagreed with their arguments, but because they were women.

They were abused for their clothes, their hair, and most importantly, the fact that they were arguing about women’s marginalization in the debate ‘This House Regrets the Centralisation of Religion’. Apparently, the hecklers thought ‘well, the debate doesn’t say ‘women’ so they’re probably just speaking about it because, well, silly women? It does say house, and a house has a kitchen, so, they’re probs confused?’ Unsurprisingly, when a male team further down the table made arguments also about women, they didn’t received any comments from the floor.

This seems quite self-evidently wrong, yes? Well apparently not. Apparently someone who must have recently emerged from an archaic time bubble decided to take to keyboard (what is this funny looking contraption!?) and write this article for the Spectator. To give a snap shot into the brain of this guy, let me pick some important quotes so you don’t have to subject yourself to scrawling through the page utter crap. He claims that ‘the booing was directed at the girls for going off-topic to indulge in feminist rhetoric’, ‘Photographs of the two finalists do not suggest they have anything to fear from assessment of their looks’ and ‘with politics, fewer women want to debate. The rough and tumble of a dialectical free-for-all is not for them.’

It’s political correctness gone mad! Quick, shield the delicate women from this male rough and tumble!

I’m not sure who thinks women can’t argue, that the speakers gave a shit what the audience thought of their looks, or who the fuck uses the phrase ‘rough and tumble’ in 2013, but the straight up sexism is this article is appalling. The fact that it so unashamedly buys into an argument that stopped having any weight about 30 years ago is just simply incorrect. As if it tries to argue that it was the fault of the debaters for not getting into the spirit of the sexism (we all know how fun a spot of misogyny is!), as opposed to the morons themselves.

They article makes the same mistake that many people make: Sexism isn’t sexism, it’s just banter. Don’t be such a sensitive girl and deal with it.  To dismiss female objectification, public heckling and straight-up misogyny as just something to just get used to because it’s part of the ‘real world’ is to perpetuate a myth that seeks to oppress women to an insulting extent. It’s accepting something as absolute when, quite clearly, it’s very wrong. These debaters are some of the best speakers in the world; to think that they couldn’t have taken these hecklers in an instance is to discredit them. They were probably too busy delivering a shit-hot speech.

As president of my debating union, and someone, who, for some reason, finds it fun to get up at 6 in the morning to travel across the country to spend 8 hours arguing publicly, I can safely say this incident is not indicative of the debating community. When I first began debating it was quite male dominated, but the gender imbalance is quickly being solved and the debating circuit is one of the most intelligent, Feminist, forward-thinking groups of people I have ever met. I have never seen a higher demographic of Feminists, both male and female, and the responses to these events have been wonderful. There been over 100 comments on the Spectator article, and they’re all funny, sharp and superbly destructive.

The problem is not the debating circuit, or that women aren’t suited for it, it’s the culture of forgetting that sexism is sexism. The sexists are the ones who need to suck it up, because this is 21st Century, my espresso bowl-cup was fucking awesome, and no ones needs your sexist bullshit anymore.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Written March 2013

Standard