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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

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2021 – Callie H Burt

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 6 March 2021

‘Scrutinizing the US Equality Act: Context, Conflict, and Consequences’

Callie H Burt, Associate Professor, Georgia State University

The U.S. Equality Act, which amends civil rights statutes to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the House in February 2020 with unanimous Democratic support. In current form, the bill would institute sweeping changes that would prioritize in-the-moment gender self-ID over sex for ‘sex-based provisions’, no exceptions. I situate the act in its sociopolitical and historical context, discussing the current status of LGBT+ protections in the USA as well as the historical development of the Equality Act, first proposed in 1974 (albeit in much different form). I describe the specifics of bill passed in the House, including the prior rejection of Republican amendments to the bill to allow some sex-based provisions, and the conflict between sex-based and gender-identity-based rights. I conclude by discussing alternatives to the act that would provide federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT people without undermining sex-based rights and the protected nature of women’s provisions.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Callie H Burt.

Callie H. Burt is an associate professor in the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA. Much of her research focuses on the developmental effects of social inequalities, especially the effects of social risk and protective factors in adolescence, from a biopsychosocial perspective. She has a longstanding research interest in sex differences and how these differences are shaped by gender as a social force, and the ways in which law and social policies reflect, reinscribe, or challenge these differences. She published a recent article on the US Equality Act in Feminist Criminology. More on Callie and her work can be found here: www.callieburt.org.

Date: 18 March 2021, 15.30-16.30 GMT

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://ucl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsdO2hqjkjGdAM8ATxnZKFyyi5QYUMaaAY

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Scrutinizing the US Equality Act: Conflict, Context and Consequences’ – Callie H. Burt https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/60775

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2021 – Selina Todd

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 6 January 2021

‘Women and Social Mobility in Postwar Britain’

Professor Selina Todd, Department of History, University of Oxford

Women were ignored in the first wave of research on social mobility –  in postwar Britain – and their experiences and mobility have been underplayed or misrepresented since then. This presentation examines reasons for this and illuminates some of their experiences and what these can tell us about British society, sex and class, since the early twentieth century.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Selina Todd.

Date: 27th January 2021, 2-3pm

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://ucl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJArduCsqzgvHtLiHD49OGfkvrNdO183ygF0

A recording is now available via UCl Media Central ‘Women and Social Mobility in Postwar Britain’ – Professor Selina Todd https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/55499

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2020 – Sophie Scott

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 26 November 2020

UCL Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group Autumn Term Meeting

‘Let’s Talk about Brain Sex’ with Professor Sophie Scott

2 Dec 14.00-15.00 via Zoom

We welcome Sophie Scott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience who will lead the seminar for the Autumn Term meeting of the UCL 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!

Register in advance for this meeting:

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Let’s Talk About Brain Sex’ – Professor Sophie Scott https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/54419

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG – Spring Term 2020 meeting postponed

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 27 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

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 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.