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UCL Women’s Liberation Response to The Cheese Grater

UCL Women's Liberation23 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.

Statement of solidarity with Professor Kathleen Stock, OBE

UCL Women's Liberation8 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 – Spring Term 2020 meeting postponed

UCL Women's Liberation27 February 2020

POSTPONED

In light of the rapidly changing situation in relation to Covid-19 the convenors of the SIG have decided to postpone the SIG meeting tomorrow.

Apologies for such short notice, but given the decision on Friday to end all face-to-face teaching at UCL, and the Director of IOE’s decision to cancel all public events we felt it was necessary.

We hope to see you when the event is rescheduled.

Holly Smith, Judith Suissa and Alice Sullivan Co-Convenors of UCL Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group

https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/feminism/

UCL Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group Spring Term Meeting

‘Let’s Talk about Brain Sex’

16 March 1-2pm Room 675, 20 Bedford Way, IOE

We welcome Sophie Scott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience who will lead the seminar for the Spring Term meeting of the Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group.

“In this talk I will outline some of the theories and studies behind the brain sex theory of differences between male and female brains. The aim is to critically evaluate what differences there are between male/female brains and behaviour, and what any of this might mean in terms of arguments about women’s liberation.”

Please join us for this seminar which is open all UCL staff and students who share a concern for Women’s Liberation, all welcome!

UCL Women’s Liberation Convenors respond to defamation of WPUK

UCL Women's Liberation20 February 2020

We are shocked and dismayed to see the anonymous Labour Campaign for Trans Rights describe WPUK and LGB Alliance as “trans-exclusionist hate groups”. We worked closely with WPUK to co-organise the ‘Women’s Liberation 2020’ conference celebrating 50 years since the first Women’s Liberation conference in the UK. This was an inspirational event bringing together nearly a thousand women with diverse views to discuss every issue affecting the lives of women today.

We have nothing but respect for the tireless campaigning for women’s rights by the founders of WPUK. We note their commitment to uphold the rights of everyone in society https://womansplaceuk.org/wpuk-manifesto-2019/

“Woman’s Place UK is a group of people from a range of backgrounds including trade unions, women’s organisations, academia and the NHS. We are united by our belief that women’s hard-won rights must be defended.

We are against all forms of discrimination. We believe in the right of everyone to live their lives free from discrimination and harassment. Women face entrenched and endemic structural inequality. This is reflected, for example, in the high levels of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls; the ‘gender’ pay gap; discrimination at work. This is why sex is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act (2010) which we believe must be defended.”

WPUK operate with transparency; their website has a clear manifesto, a record of every meeting and their YouTube channel has video recordings of the speeches made at their meetings. We challenge the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights to identify any statements or actions by WPUK which justify describing them as a hate group or to withdraw their statements which we believe to be entirely false and defamatory.

UCL Women’s Liberation 2020 on Woman’s Hour

UCL Women's Liberation12 February 2020

Woman’s Hour came to our conference on 1st February, celebrating 50 years of Women’s Liberation in the UK. You can listen to the interview (from 0.25) with Professor Sophie Scott (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) and Helen Joyce (UCL Alumna and Finance Editor at the Economist), discussing why the conference was important.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000dymy

Women’s Liberation 2020 Conference

UCL Women's Liberation10 January 2020

UCL Women’s Liberation is organising a large one-day conference in February 2020, bringing together academics, policymakers, practitioners, journalists and activists for a day of feminist plenaries, panel discussions and practical campaigning workshops. We are delighted to be working with our third sector partners WPUK, Southall Black Sisters, FiLiA, The National Assembly of Women and the Centre for Women’s Justice.

2020 marks the 50 year anniversary of the first UK Women’s Liberation conference in the UK. We anticipate a national moment of reflection and evaluation of progress in the women’s movement. UCL was the first university in the UK to admit women on an equal basis to men, UCL is a fitting venue for this landmark event.

The conference will address themes of: the economic status of women, ending violence, harassment and abuse of women and girls, improved access to healthcare, education and training, justice for women in the legal system, representation and participation in democracy, culture, sports and all areas of public life.

Keynote speakers include Joanna Cherry QC MP, Pragna Patel, Joan McAlpine MSP, Julie Bindel and Maya Forstater. In addition to hearing leading feminist writers, researchers and activists, there will be a practical focus on empowerment of participants to return to their communities, workplaces and families with campaigning skills.

The Conference will take place on Saturday 1st February at University College London, Institute of Education 10.00-17.00.

Please purchase tickets via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-liberation-2020-tickets-86046570609.

There are a limited number of tickets reserved for UCL staff at the regular rate. In ‘Select promo code’ box enter ‘UCLWLSIG’ and click Apply. The message ‘New Tickets unlocked below’ will appear and the option to purchase at the Standard ticket price of £25. You will also need to provide a UCL staff email address in Eventbrite.