X Close

UCL Women's Liberation



Statement of solidarity with Professor Kathleen Stock, OBE

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 8 October 2021

Kathleen Stock has been subjected to an extended campaign of bullying and targeted harassment at Sussex University. Longstanding inaction on the part of the university has emboldened the bullies.

Stickers targeting Professor Stock were displayed in her building on Tuesday 5th October, and no action was taken by the university to remove them. Posters were then prominently displayed at the main entrance to the university on Wednesday 6th October. The posters demanded that Professor Stock should be sacked, referencing the students’ power as fee-paying customers.

The activists made a statement on Instagram, objecting to Professor Stock speaking in favour of single-sex spaces and to her role as a trustee of the lesbian-led charity LGB Alliance. The statement concluded: ‘Our demand is simple; Fire Kathleen Stock. Until then, you’ll see us around’. This was accompanied by images of the activists in black balaclavas letting off flares.

We are pleased to see that Sussex University has made a statement affirming that everyone has the right to be free from harassment and intimidation. While those students participating in this campaign of harassment are a small minority, a failure to tackle harassment and bullying contribute to a chilling climate which threatens academic freedom. When the campus becomes a space where people are scared to voice their ideas and views, we all lose out. It is particularly disturbing that the targets of such campaigns are overwhelmingly women, who historically have been silenced and excluded from public life.

Universities have a duty of care to staff and students. A commitment to free speech and academic freedom does not and should not constitute a defence of harassment or attempts to close down the speech of others. Universities must take appropriate disciplinary action against students and staff who engage in campaigns of harassment against other students and staff.

Only a quarter of permanent post-holders in UK philosophy departments are women, and the proportion of female philosophy professors is even lower, despite the fact that nearly half of all philosophy undergraduates are female. As a lesbian professor, Kathleen Stock is part of a small minority, subjected to both sexism and anti-lesbian prejudice. Attacks on a member of a marginalised minority whose only perceived crime is to speak out in defence of women’s rights and lesbian rights reflects the worst elements of a sexist society where violence and intimidation of women and girls is rife.

UCL Women’s Liberation stands in solidarity with Kathleen.

4 Responses to “Statement of solidarity with Professor Kathleen Stock, OBE”

  • 1
    Bettina Friedrich wrote on 8 October 2021:

    We need to protect free speech on campus while protecting people from targeted harassment!

  • 2
    Fiona English wrote on 8 October 2021:

    This is great. Are you collecting signatories? If so, please add me: Dr Fiona English, Senior Honorary Research Associate, UCL


  • 3
    Pamela King (Prof) wrote on 8 October 2021:

    As a female academic who made it to professor in a career spanning the 1980s to the present, I wholeheartedly endorse this defence of Kathleen Stock. There is a degree of intellectual illiteracy in the assumption that to be pro women’s rights – a continuing struggle world wide – is to be transphobic. This is the worst of cancel culture about which the University of Sussex is doing too little too late.

  • 4
    Bill BALHARRY wrote on 3 November 2021:

    I heard Professor Stock talking on Radio 4 today ( 3rd November 2021 ) and finding her comments completely rational and reasonable I wished to support her.

Leave a Reply