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UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term – Karleen Gribble

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Mothers, Infants and Sexed Language: A Journey

Dr Karleen Gribble

In early 2022, I was co-author, with nine others, of a paper on the importance of sexed language in communications about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. The paper attracted a lot of interest and has had nearly 100 000 reads. It is being applied in diverse contexts including being cited in the UK parliament as underpinning policy on use of sexed language in legislation. The paper was responding to the trend to desex language and much of the discussion around this has focused on the impact of desexing language on women’s rights. However, my work is very much anchored in a child rights perspective. In this presentation I will describe how I came to the sexed and gendered language issue and how and why ‘mother’ is such an important word in protecting the rights and needs of children.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Karleen Gribble.
Dr Karleen Gribble is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Her interests include infant and young child feeding in emergencies, regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, child rights, caregiver-child and child-caregiver attachment, adoption reform, and treatment of infants within the child protection and criminal justice systems. She has published research, provided media commentary, contributed to government enquiries, provided expert opinion for courts, and engaged in training of health professionals, social workers, and humanitarian workers on these subjects. She is a member of the steering committee of the international interagency collaboration the Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Core Group and has been involved in policy development, training and advocacy in the area of infants and young children in emergencies since 2006. Karleen passionately advocates for recognition of the importance of mothers to their infants and works to create environments that support breastfeeding and the mother-infant relationship, particularly in situations of adversity.


Thursday 6th October 2022, 1-2pm, face-to-face seminar at UCL Institute of Education (room tbc).

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term – Katie Alcock

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Children’s Understanding of Sex and Gender

Dr Katie Alcock

Children of preschool and early primary age often have poor understanding of logic and this extends to concepts of sex and gender, and often leads to younger children displaying more stereotyped preferences and behaviour than older children. I will discuss the literature on this aspect of development including how this applies to children with autism and what other influences may affect this.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Katie Alcock.
Dr Katie Alcock is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University in Developmental Psychology, specialising in typical and atypical language and cognitive development. She is particularly interested in what makes children different from each other, including language, culture, health, and developmental conditions.
Date: Tuesday 29th November 2022, in person SIG Seminar 13.00-14.00 GMT (Room C3.09IOe 20 Bedford Way)

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Deborah Cameron

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 24 February 2022

‘Use the right words’: verbal hygiene and feminist politics

Professor Deborah Cameron

Both conservative and progressive movements have a long history of engagement in verbal hygiene, attempting to influence the use of language so that it aligns with their beliefs and values. In this talk I will focus on the ways in which progressive movements, including feminism, have sought to regulate language-use in pursuit of political goals, looking at the forms their interventions have taken and the questions or problems these may raise. ‘Use the right words’ may be a familiar exhortation, but determining what ‘the right words’ are is a more complicated matter than it might look.


UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Deborah Cameron.


Deborah Cameron is a professor in the Linguistics Faculty at Oxford University. Her research focuses on the relationship between linguistic and social phenomena, and she has published numerous books and articles about language and sex/gender, including one aimed at non-linguists, The Myth of Mars and Venus. She has also written a short introduction to feminism for Profile Books, and is the owner of the blog Language: A Feminist Guide.


Date: 16th March 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT
A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Use the right words’: Verbal Hygiene and Feminist Politics


UCL Women’s Liberation Response to The Cheese Grater

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 23 February 2022

The Cheese Grater credits UCL Women’s Liberation with bewitching hundreds of UCL colleagues, leading them astray into dangerous wrongthink. The author appears scandalised that women at UCL should talk to one another, host a conference and a seminar series, and co-sign a letter with other academics who share our concerns.

Flattered as we are by the influence ascribed to us, we have to acknowledge that the Cheese Grater exaggerates the role that UCL Women’s Liberation played in UCL’s decision to cut ties with Stonewall. Nevertheless, we are proud of the part that we have played in opening up discussion of sex, gender and women’s rights at UCL.

The Cheese Grater article contains numerous inaccurate, untrue and defamatory statements. It is a pity that the author did not contact us for comment.

The discussion at Academic Board, was attended by a wide cross-section of academic and professional staff, including LGBT+ colleagues. It was a model of fair and civil debate and speakers both in favour of and against re-joining Stonewall put forward their arguments. We are proud that UCL is showing the way in ensuring that universities are spaces where such discussions can take place without fear and intimidation.

UCL Women’s Liberation continues to offer a forum for discussion of important issues of feminism and women’s rights and we would encourage interested colleagues, students and members of the public to sign up to our mailing list for updates on our activities.

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Sara Dahlen

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 2 February 2022

Sex or gender identity? Practical and ethical implications for medicine

Dr Sara Dahlen

Clear communication on sex and gender identity in medical contexts can be challenging. Clinicians may note variation in understandings of these terms, or policies that appear to downplay the relevance of biological sex. This talk explores practical and ethical implications of conflicting language around sex and gender identity in medicine, with focus on potential healthcare consequences, especially for women’s health.
UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Sara Dahlen.
Dr Sara Dahlen is a PhD student at King’s College London, researching the ethics of sex and gender in the context of an emerging reproductive technology. She studied Pharmacology at UCL, Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and  Bioethics and Society at King’s College London.
Date: 17th February 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2021 – Michael Biggs

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 14 October 2021

‘Queer Theory and the transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’

Dr Michael Biggs

An intriguing property of social theory is its potential, when put into practice, to alter the world to resemble more closely the model posited by theory. This self-fulfilling character has been shown for theories in disciplines that emulate natural sciences, like economics and psychiatry. I argue that queer theory too has the power to remake the world in its own image, using the case of prison policy in England. The notion that sex is merely the performance of gender helped to shift the criteria for incarcerating males in women’s prisons: from genital surgery to legal status, and then to gender identity. The implementation of queer theory enables us to unpack two distinct meanings of gender performance: dramaturgical, where the individual gives off the appearance of femininity or masculinity through body modification, clothing, and gesture, and illocutionary, the individual’s verbal claim to be man or women. This case demonstrates the impact of queer theory on institutional policy and elite opinion, even under a Conservative government.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Michael Biggs.

Dr Michael Biggs was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (in New Zealand) and Harvard University, and is now Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross at the University of Oxford. His research concentrates on social movements and political protest, ranging from the labour movement in the 19th century to the London riots of 2011. He has recently become concerned with the transgender movement’s encroachment on academic freedom and undermining of evidence-based medicine. He is a director of Sex Matters and serves on the advisory board of the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine. 

Date: 7th December 2021, 14.00-15.00 GMT

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Queer Theory and the Transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’


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.

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2021 – Lisa Littman

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 15 September 2021

‘Psychosocial Factors and Gender Dysphoria: Emerging Theories’

Dr Lisa Littman

Over the past 15 years, there have been striking changes in the numbers and characteristics of individuals seeking care for gender dysphoria. In this presentation, Dr. Lisa Littman will review the basics of gender dysphoria, describe recent trends in patient demographics and clinical approaches to gender dysphoria, and explore the potential role of psychosocial factors in the development of gender dysphoria through a series of three studies.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Lisa Littman.

Dr Lisa Littman is currently the President of the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research (ICGDR) and has previously held academic positions at the Brown University School of Public Health and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Date: 7th October 2021, 2-3pm

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Psychosocial factors and gender dysphoria: emerging theories’

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Summer Term 2021 – Helen Johnson

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 25 May 2021

UPDATE (1/6/21): please note this talk has been rescheduled to Wednesday 30th June, 2pm

‘How prostitution myths are linked to all our lives as women’

Dr Helen Johnson, director of Stand Against Sexual Exploitation (SASE)

This talk not only unpicks some of the myths of prostitution but also uses this as a lens to understand the lies and myths we are peddled as women more generally – and how it speaks to our relationships, power, and sense of possibility. The talk suggests that accepting the reality of prostitution instead of these myths actually helps us to be more positive and hopeful about both men and women instead of the tired old accusations of being ‘prudish’ and ‘anti sex/men’.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Helen Johnson.

Dr Helen Johnson is a policy researcher working on issues related to women’s equality in law, policy, and the third sector. Her work has focused particularly on exiting and desistance within prostitution. Helen is a qualified barrister and holds a PhD in Criminology, for which she investigated the needs of service users and how institutions can provide emotionally intelligent services. 

When: June 30th, 2021 14:00-15:00 London
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2021 – Bec Wonders

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 1 April 2021

‘Complicated Sisterhood: negotiating socialist feminism in the second wave periodicals Red Rag and Scarlet Women

Bec Wonders, doctoral researcher, Glasgow School of Art

The Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s in the UK saw a surge in women’s publishing that generated a networked feminist communications circuit in the form of newsletters and magazines. These periodicals functioned as essential forums through which to develop and disagree on their political positions. The letters and editorials reveal that the internal debates and disagreements with which second wave feminists were grappling still remain contentious today.

One such site of contention was the attempt by socialist feminists to give both socialism and feminism equal concern, based on the broad conception that the oppression of women was situated within the struggle against capitalism, and therefore some argued that men could (and should) be included in the women’s movement. This was met with suspicion and hostility from radical and revolutionary feminists, who understood the specific nature of women’s oppression as being rooted in male domination and autonomous feminist organising as necessitating the exclusion of men.

However, not all women fell neatly into one camp or the other. Several periodicals created space for this tension to unravel, the most notable of which are Red Rag: A Magazine of Women’s Liberation (1972-1980) and Scarlet Women: Newsletter of the Socialist Feminist

Current (1976-1982). While significant differences exist between the two publications, both featured disagreements in the form of editorials and letters that demonstrate the existential workings-out of what each periodical should be and how it could act as a bridge between socialism, Marxism and feminism.

These examples may demonstrate to feminist scholars and activists today how print-based networks provided a necessary space for negotiating feminist conflicts about collective working, and how to bridge ideological positions and strategies. Moreover, these records facilitate the creation of intergenerational coalitions between women by placing our contemporary negotiations in a temporal continuum that follows on from the struggles of second wave feminists and resists the historiographical model of the repetitive jump-starting of feminist generations.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Bec Wonders.

Bec Wonders is a feminist researcher in the field of feminist conflict, the Women’s Liberation Movement and feminist publishing networks at the Glasgow School of Art. She earned a Masters in Publishing at Simon Fraser University and co-founded the Vancouver Women’s Library. Currently, Bec runs Frauenkultur: an online archive of second wave feminist writing. Bec is also a freelance illustrator and printmaker. Her work can be found at www.becwonders.com.

When: Apr 28, 2021 14:00-15:00 London

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Complicated Sisterhood: negotiating socialist feminism in the second wave periodicals Red Rag and Scarlet Woman