Posts, Topics & Meetups

Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence (DASV) is it gendered?

Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence

A discussion of DASV and how it affects people of all genders and sexualities and whether there remains a “gendered nature to violence” in terms of victims, survivors, or perpetrators. (Norwich Millennium Library,  6-7pm, 4 April)

Alternatively, should we move to a support model that is gender free and simply tries to stop the violence, the sexual assaults, provide refuge to those fleeing DASV, irrespective of gender.

Is it even possible to be gender (or indeed sexuality) blind in the way we treat this issue?

DASV: “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”

UK stats

USA stats


The Red Pill, Discussion – A Feminist explores MRAs

On the day of the worldwide release of Cassie Jaye‘s latest documentary “The Red Pill”, The Gender & Sexuality discussion group will be meeting and discussing the film and the issues raise around domestic violence and abuse, parental custody, prison sentencing, mental health, workplace injuries, and patriarchy v gynocentrism, and whether these are gendered issues and outcomes and if so how are feminism(s) and MRM(s) dealing with them, and if they are, are they doing so equally?

The Red Pill Film Trailer

Extended Sneak Preview

Q&A Movie Discussion Panel

On the 18th (and 19th) of January this year the film was screened here in Norwich. The screening was followed by a Q&A with a few special guests – including the filmmaker herself, on her first visit to the UK. Video of the panel Q&A with Erin Pizzey, Cassie Jaye, Paul Elam, Dr Randomercam, Mike Buchanan, Lucinda Bray, Jess Austin, Katy Jon Went:

And a further between showings and panels discussion among: Erin Pizzey, Cassie Jaye, Paul Elam, Dr Randomercam, Mike Buchanan & Nikita Coulombe:


GAS Event:

Opinion – Katy Jon Went

Watching the film and participating in the discussion panel twice made me realise that the battle of the sexes is still alive and well, but at times and in certain contexts it seems the social war between men and women has shifted its balance in favour of women. The intersectional feminist in me would rage, that no, the patriarchy (if it can still be said to exist – the gender neutral kyriarchy may now be a better word) still discriminates against women.

The age of Feminism and Men’s Rights Movements has marked some gains in equality but also some marked paradigm shifts in the experience of that equality.

Health and life expectancy favours women over men. One could argue that men live more dangerous lives, workplace injury, war, gang violence etc, women had maternity death risks, domestic violence etc, but for the last 200 years they’ve lived longer and healthier than men, and that gap is only now beginning to narrow.

Hearing how men’s experience can be just as hellish as women’s in different ways, more combat and work stress, parental rights deprivations etc than overt sexism or sexual assault, but degrees and differences of privilege, patriarchy and matriarchy or gynocentrism.

Domestic abuse, sexual violence, and coercive control can affect 1-in-5 men (UK, 1-in-4 USA) just as it does with 1-in-3 women. And yet, count up how many men’s DASV shelters there are? You’ll only need the fingers on one hand.

Gender roles, “the boy code”, “man up”, “be a man”, “you’re the provider/protector”, “boys don’t cry/blab”, all serve to trap men, discourage them from seeking help in relationships, around mental health – and when they do attempt suicide, they are invariably more lethal in taking their own lives.

The Red Pill may be hard to swallow but it needs to be seen and engaged with, and as Paul Elam said, some men need to be “heard, even in their anger”. What was less palatable from some voices was the feeling and some campaigning that women’s services and funding should be reduced in order to fund men’s services. Whilst men’s DASV support, and numerous other services absolutely need funding, it should be in addition to the already cut back women’s services. It should not be a battle of the sexes or the services, or the public/charity sector money pot, but the putting of people before profit, health before gender, ending violence and abuse before stereotyping one sex as the aggressor and the other as victim.

LGB+ Sexuality – can it be legislated or proscribed?

LGBT History Month falls during the 50th year since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK (1967). How has sexuality been proscribed in the past? Were there times when it was more free and less stigmatised than now? Has gradual legal change affected the public perception of LGB sexuality? Have legal protections and freedoms changed its moral perception by religions? What has the public sphere even to do with the private sphere of sexuality? Will religions evolve in their treatment of LGBT+ people? Homosexuality remains criminalised in 74 nations and punishable by death in 13, mainly in religious jurisdictions.

Facebook event, discussion at Norwich Millennium Library, Tuesday 7 Feb, 6-7pm

Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

The first American state to decriminalise sodomy was Illinois in 1961. It took until 1969 for another US state – Connecticut to do the same. The 1970s-80s saw decriminalisation across the majority of the US. The 14 states that did not repeal these laws until 2003 were forced to by the landmark United States Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

UK Legal History and Homosexual ‘Crimes’

The last person sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for sodomy was John Spencer in July 1860, although the death sentence was never carried out. It was only 31 January 2017 when ‘Turing’s law’ posthumous pardons were issued for those prosecuted for ‘homosexual crimes’ which would now have been legal.

“Throughout the eighteenth century and up until 1861, all penetrative homosexual acts committed by men were punishable by death. Following this date, hanging was replaced by life imprisonment, and after the passage of the Labouchere Amendment in 1885, by up to two years’ incarceration. Sex between men remained illegal in parts of the United Kingdom until 1982.

The rules of evidence, however, ensured that relatively few men were actually found guilty of sodomy. Fewer still were executed. For most of this period, to prove sodomy one needed at least two eyewitnesses and evidence of both penetration and ejaculation. As a result most trials in the Proceedings are for the lesser offence of “assault with sodomitical intent” rather than for sodomy itself.” – Old Bailey trials archive

Psychiatric Pathology

1973 saw the partial depathologisation of homosexuality but it was not until 1987 that it completely disappeared from the DSM. The concept of ego-dystonic sexual orientation still remains as a vestigial diagnosis in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Language played its part in the 1800s.

Degeneracy became a widely acknowledged theory for homosexuality during the 1870s and 80s. It spoke to the eugenic and social Darwin theories of the late 19th Century. Benedict Augustin Morel is considered the father of degeneracy theory. His theories posit that physical, intellectual, and moral abnormalities come from disease, urban over-population, malnutrition, alcohol, and other failures of his contemporary society.
An important shift in the terminology of homosexuality was brought about by the development of psychology’s inquisition into homosexuality. “Contrary sexual feeling,” as Westphal’s phrased, and the word “homosexual” itself made their way into the Western lexicons. Homosexuality had a name aside from the ambiguous term “sodomy” and the elusive “abomination.” As Michel Foucault phrases, “the sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species.” –

Religious Pathology

Whilst Ancient Greece and Rome were quite liberal towards bisexuality, with the main issue being about who was the penetrator and questions of class, education and property being more important than gender, it was Christianity with its Jewish background, that changed the morals and laws of the last two millennia.





2017, the year ahead, Gender Revolution?

Gender Revolution

Time Magazine, Transgender Tipping Point, May 2014, Laverne Cox cover
Time Magazine, ‘Transgender Tipping Point’, May 2014, Laverne Cox cover

Hosting our first GAS discussion of 2017 we look at topics for the year ahead, and how National Geographic magazine has put the “Gender Revolution” front and centre this January, much as Time Magazine‘s ‘Transgender Tipping Point‘ did in 2014.

“To a degree unimaginable a decade ago, the intensely personal subject of gender identity has entered the public square…Freed from the binary of boy and girl, gender identity is a shifting landscape…Gradually it dawned on me…how deeply bound in culture gender itself is.” – National Geographic, January 2017

National Geographic, Gender Revolution, cover
National Geographic, ‘Gender Revolution’, January 2017, cover

Is there a gender revolution or evolution, or are we just changing the labels to suit current language and expression, but the identities have always been there?

“From dinner-table conversations to children’s books, the lines of gender are being redrawn.” – Laurie Penny, New Statesman, June 2014

In February at UEA, I’ll be looking at non-binary gender identities around the world and how deeply rooted they are in different cultures.

Binary Gender Resistance

“National Geographic is trying to brainwash young people into thinking this kind of degeneracy is normal. #GenderRevolution” – Dirty Harry (@HarryCallahan_) December 15, 2016

Is ‘modern’ gender identity seen as a threat to traditional religious and/or socio-political power structures, in a similar way to that of the equality of women over the last century?

National Geographic, 'Gender Revolution', January 2017
National Geographic, ‘Gender Revolution’, January 2017

Where do the anti-reactions come from? Trivialisation, bigotry, ignorance, fear, age, faith, binary gendered people, and what can we do to counter them?

One such counter argument runs:

“Constantly in search of the “next civil rights frontier,” Time never discusses the fact that transgender surgeries do nothing to reduce rates of suicide, never considers the perspective that genital mutilation is not a solution to mental issues, and simply labels Cox a “she” despite the fact that every cell in Cox’s body contains a Y chromosome.

Cox explains that his/her story is important because we are all “insecure about our gender”:

They think, ‘Okay, if there’s this trans person over here, then what does that make me?’ We want to just coast along in a belief system that makes us feel secure, because we are a culture, as Brene Brown would say, that is intolerant to vulnerability. And if we are in a position where we have to begin to question this very basic idea of ‘A man has a penis and a woman has a vagina,’ then that’s a lot of vulnerability.

Welcome to the culture shift.” – Truth Revolt

Where is gender ‘culture’ going in 2017, and is gender just a cultural thing? And why the moral and ‘safety’ panic? Another reported wrote in 2016 about the 2015 “backlash” in America:

“Thirty-five anti-trans bills have been introduced across 12 states since 2015, according to the National Center of Transgender Equality…What the backers of these bills have done is simply pivot the target of their mid-century “think of the children” rhetoric: from gay (and lesbian, and maybe bisexual — they are not really so specific) adults they believe pose a threat by virtue of their existence, to transgender and gender non-conforming adults and youth. They cloak their panic in concern.” – Pacific Standard, February 2016

Cassie Jaye documentary film The Red Pill
Cassie Jaye documentary film ‘The Red Pill’

Does the success of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, acting as ‘great white males’, point to a traditional resistance to the gender revolution? Are men the new minority, or indeed binary women, too?

The feminist Cassie Jaye explores “Gender Politics” in her documentary exploration of MRA activism, “The Red Pill“, which comes to Norwich on January 18th & 19th.

2017 Gender Revolution

Rise of the Right, Human Rights in USA & Europe

Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 BBC
Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 – BBC

From Trump and Pence to Marine Le Pen, the so-called “alt Right”, UKIP and Brexit, there has been a seeming lurch to the right in European and western politics with reactionary policies called for including Burka bans, immigration repatriation, attempts to overturn abortion rights and bathroom laws, and a trans rush in America to get gender markers and names changed before January, and fears of what may come. (Discussion 6 December 2016, Norwich Library)

LGBT Rights reversal by Right Wing?

Is this an irrational fear? India, Russia and Uganda, have already shown that LGBT gains can be reversed. Every single member of Trump’s cabinet opposes LGBT rights (Pink News) Who are the people around the president-elect (BBC)

Trump’s “message of resentment, anger and fear turned out enough of those voters for him to move past Clinton in key Midwest states and win an electoral college victory. From that, Trump will almost surely take the lesson that he doesn’t need to reach out to anybody; he can win by appealing only to his rabid base.” – Washington Post

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Tom Price, one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of abortion, as health and human services secretary has drawn immediate condemnation from reproductive rights and public health groups.

The city of San Francisco has passed a resolution vowing to resist any backslide on LGBT rights under the Trump administration.

Europe: Austria, Italy, France, Sweden…

Europe Left and Right - New Stateman
Europe Left and Right – New Stateman

On Sunday, Austria’s Norbert Hofer was nearly the first far-right head of state in western Europe since WWII.  In the end, a re-run of the election in which a previous vote was tied with a narrow 30,000 challenged majority actually resulted in a 53/47% victory for the Green-Independent candidate.

“Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.” – Guardian

Interestingly, Austria saw the centre-Right and centre-Left candidates lose in the first round, instead seeing a polarisation of the vote around far-Right and independent-Green. Is the future of politics? A rejection of establishment, traditional parties including liberal-centrist in favour of a new politics, the so-called rise of populism. These new ‘extremist’ parties favour nationalism over immigration and may blur the lines of Left and Right, cutting across and drawing support from the whole political spectrum, as UKIP has done in the UK. They are anti-status quo and have recently seen the “sad death of liberal Britain“.

Right Turn Only Road SignSlovakia has seen its far Right party gain its first seats in 2016, with 8% of the vote and 14 seats. Interestingly, Left and Right parties opposed immigration. Immigration and asylum has been championed by Liberal-Greens across Europe but increasingly opposed by the Left and Right during times of austerity.

Sweden’s Democrats have seen a significant rise in support 2006-14 and are characterised by anti-immigration and anti-indigenous, pro-heterosexual nuclear family ideals. Same-sex adoption is opposed with forcible married heterosexual adoption if children of LGBT parents are orphaned.

Reports have shown that a majority of far and new Right supporters are working and lower-middle class men, often less educated and economically insecure, with traditional heterosexual masculinities feeling threatened by the diversification of national culture by Islam, immigration and LGBT minorities.

A re-developing divide is also that of rural versus urban, with diverse cities integrating their differences whilst rural populations become entrenched around their traditional populations.

“Economic anxieties [only] go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose” – Intelligence Squared

Left and Right parties in Europe 2015
Left and Right parties in Europe 2015 – New Statesman

Across 39 European countries and English-speaking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – right-wing parties are in power in 30 of the 43 countries, 4 more than before the 2008 financial crash when anti-capitalist feeling should have been on the rise. Is Europe swinging to the right?

Alt Left

And then there’s the Alt-Left – “a subset of liberals in America who think differently than the regressive left. We tend to be pro-free speech / anti-safe-space, anti-Islam, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, anti-SJW, and a plethora of other things.”

Revolutionary Communism

The Left’s advocacy of LGBT rights “has a long and mixed history“. Early 20th Century Communism, it should be remembered, was a part of its pre-millennial milieu. That said, Russian Communism undid the laws of the Tsarist regime, and early German Communism and Socialism advocated for gay rights whilst the Nazi National Socialist party oppressed them. Stalin, re-introduced criminal charges for gay men. Obscuring clear analysis is the fact that for some, homosexuality was considered a pervasive practice of the aristocratic classes and not that of the working man.

Some have pointed out that Left and Right do not naturally fall into good or bad, liberal or oppressive, camps. For instance, this graphic is narrow and simplistice in its presentation of the political spectrum:

The Political Spectrum
The Political Spectrum – Woody.Typepad

Some on the Left have wistfully remembered the health and education policies and stand against the US and Apartheid of Fidel Castro. Yet, Castro, also, had issues with LGBT people, their country being decades behind others in giving LGBT rights, before then they could end up in hard labour camps, exiled or killed. Castro proclaimed homosexuality incompatible with revolution and looked only to “real men”.

A phrase that has resurfaced with the football abuse scandal and darts player MBE, Eric Bristow taunting victims as not “real men”, who would stand up to their abusers.

‘White Power Barbie’ v Hillary Clinton

Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton
Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton

America’s Democrat Left put all their hope in Hillary Clinton and women in general to save the US from a Trump victory, yet 52% of white women voted for him. One female Republican, Tomi Lahren, has been called the “White Power Barbie” and has millions of views, supporting the Right.

The Tyranny of the Majority v Minority

What are the fears of minorities, women, LGBT, etc with regard to the Right and is it fair to selectively remember history and ignore the far Left’s similarly anti-minority views? Or to assume that women are more open-minded or liberal-left than men?

How do we vote when party manifestos cut across multiple issues, rights and policies, is there a hierarchy of rights when no one party espouses them all? What can we do to protect, mitigate and stand up for minorities during more repressive times, if that is what is to come. Are LGBT, among other, rights culturally interpreted and either victors or victims depending upon whether their status is seen as a class, religious or political correctness issue, rather than one of human rights?

Contrary to expectations, and ‘no-platforming’/’safe space’ politics extremist groups able to participate in mainstream debate tended to move away from extremism over time, or to eventually lose support, e.g., the BNP in the UK.


Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek & SciFi

Utopian Views of Gender & Sexuality in SciFi

After 50 years, Star Trek is the obvious starting point for a discussion of fictional futuristic views of sex and gender. Given the unlimited possibilities of SciFi and Fantasy, it can seem disappointing when film, television, and books, often resort to binary genders and heterosexuality. Star Trek was groundbreaking with the first on-screen interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Uhura in 1968 (“Plato’s Stepchildren” – episode 65, third season). Actually, the first interracial kiss was British, and in 1962. The Uhura episode saw Star Trek’s lowest ratings ever, and was not broadcast in the conservative American South.

Uhura Captain Kirk Star Trek Interracial Kiss
Uhura & Captain Kirk in Star Trek’s 1968 interracial kiss

The taboos of race and gender were paramount during the civil rights battles of the 1960s, whether about colour, sexuality, or indeed the Vietnam war. Science Fiction provided the opportunity to speculate and present utopian visions of what might be. This was particularly the case on some of the planets that the Enterprise was to visit on its mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before” (based upon a White House space exploration booklet, 1957).

[Discussion Tue 1 Nov, 6-7pm, Norwich Millennium Library]

Star Trek episode: The Outcast

Episode 117 of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), appropriately titled “The Outcast”, sees The Enterprise contacted by a genderless race called the J’naii.

Star Trek, genderless Soren in The Outcast
Star Trek, genderless Soren in The Outcast

“While being treated by Dr. Crusher, Soren asks her several questions about female gender identification. While Soren and Riker work on the shuttle, Soren confesses that she is attracted to Riker and further that she has female gender identity. Soren explains that the J’naii are an androgynous species that view the expression of any sort of male or female gender, and especially sexual liaisons, as a sexual perversion. According to their official doctrine, the J’naii had evolved beyond gender and thus view the idea of male/female sexuality as primitive. Those among the J’naii who view themselves as possessing gender are ridiculed, outcast, and forced to undergo ‘psychotectic therapy’.” – Wikipedia

Sexuality in Star Trek

Star Trek Captain James T Kirk William Shatner topless
Star Trek Captain James T Kirk William Shatner topless, again!

Star Trek doesn’t travel far into the unknowns of gender and sexuality, by current standards, but was ahead of its time, mainly around race, bisexuality and polygamy. Whilst the 1960s outfits could be said to have sexualised its female crew members, Captain James T Kirk barely kept his shirt on and became an object of female and perhaps too, male desire.

In later series, the Bolians and Denobulans are regarded as being polygamous and/or polyandrous, and the former, even bisexual with mention by Data in a 1999 epsiode of a Bolian man’s co-husband and wife.

Four years earlier, Babylon 5 had introduced a bisexual character in 1995. Susan Ivanova mainly had relationships with men, mostly bad ones, but seemingly also had one with Talia Winters. “Seemingly”, because more is alluded to than shown.

In 1997, Bruce Vilanch in The Advocate wrote despairingly:

“Probably the most egregiously overlooked area of gay visibility is, if you can swing me on this, is science fiction. With the exception of a telepathic meeting of two lesbian minds on Babylon 5, there has never been a gay creature – much less a gay human being – in any of the Star Trek series or movies or, for that matter the other Star Trek clones popping up all over the dial… Since all these shows are set in the future, the grim possibility exists that, at least in their creators’ minds, there are no gay people in the future. It’s a curious notion for science-fiction to embrace…” – The Advocate (21 Jan 1997), p.104

In 2013, Landon Palmer on IMDB suggested that nothing had changed.

Lack of Queer Sexuality in Star Trek

Star Trek Sulu, gratuitously topless?
Star Trek Sulu, gratuitously topless?

There is an irony in Star Trek in that George Takei who played Sulu is gay and his original character wasn’t, yet in the rebooted films, the character is now played as homosexual. A move, branded by Takei, as “unfortunate” and beyond Gene Roddenberry’s vision, who feared back in 1968, 37 years before Takei himself came out, that it would lead to the show’s cancellation. Indeed, it was, for other budgetary reasons, lasting just three seasons and dropping off the air just 7 weeks before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

Roddenberry, raised a Southern Baptist, had turned to humanism as an adult and rejected organised religion. He also rejected conventional marriage and discouraged any representation of it in Star Trek episodes – expecting both religion and marriage to have died on Earth by the 23rd Century setting for Star Trek.

Actually, Roddenberry in 1987 promised that TNG would have gay characters – but did it fulfil that promise? Leonard Nimoy, in 1991, also supported that view. Roddenberry died before he could realise or “materialise” that ambition.

Star Trek Screenwriter (1988-99), Ronald D Moore said:

“We’ve just failed at it. It’s not been something we’ve successfully done. At Star Trek we used to have all these stock answers for why we didn’t do it. The truth is it was not really a priority for any of us on the staff so it wasn’t really something that was strong on anybody’s radar. And then I think there’s a certain inertia that you’re not used to writing those characters into these dramas and then you just don’t. And somebody has to decide that it’s important before you do it and I think we’re still at the place where that’s not yet a common – yeah, we have to include this and this is an important thing to include in the shows. Sci-Fi for whatever reason is just sort of behind the curve on all this.”

It took the fan-fic spin-off series, Hidden Frontier, to unofficially portray the first gay male kiss on Star Trek when Lt Corey Aster in reveals his feelings for another crew member he’d fancied since Starfleet Academy days over a story arc lasting a few seasons between 2001 and 2004.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seeing Red Willow And Tara
Buffy the Vampire Slayer ‘Seeing Red’ Willow And Tara

Meanwhile, over those same years, it took Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to be the first to portray an overt lesbian couple – Willow and Tara, their first kiss in 2001 and by 2003 to air the first lesbian sex scene on mainstream American television.

Between 2006 and 2011, Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, took the British SciFi series to new places that the seemingly asexual Doctor himself could never go to.

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto in Torchwood
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto in Torchwood © BBC Worldwide

Torchwood doesn’t just introduce gay characters, it actually introduces almost universal bi and pansexuality, or even omnisexuality with the sexually voracious Captain Jack Harkness, whereby the strict limitations of hetero and homo are dealt with by going beyond them, with nearly every characters having same-sex and/or alien attraction encounters.

“Without making it political or dull, this is going to be a very bisexual programme. I want to knock down the barriers so we can’t define which of the characters is gay. We need to start mixing things up, rather than thinking, ‘This is a gay character and he’ll only ever go off with men.'” – Russell T Davies

Star Trek rebooter, JJ Abrams, said in 2011 that he was “frankly shocked that in the history of Star Trek there have never been gay characters in all the series”.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Jadzia Dax same-sex kiss
Star Trek Deep Space Nine Jadzia Dax same-sex kiss

The closest Star Trek came was in 1995, “Rejoined” – episode 78 of Deep Space Nine (DS9), when Jadzia Dax kisses another woman. The taboo made an issue not reuniting with the loved ones of former hosts, not of their gender. DS9 was probably the most forward-looking with a more adult script actually mentioning sex, and not just love.

Success or failure in LGBT inclusion?

It’s been argued that that Star Trek’s aliens are so diverse and its plots so full of social justice that adding a gay character would have been redundant.

“…a homosexual character simply doesn’t add anything of substance when you have an alien species (the Cardassians) literally putting another (Bajorans) in concentration camps. Gay acceptance issues in the Star Trek universe would be both redundant and trivial compared to the deeper ethical questions the franchise regularly poses.” – Adam Selene

That said, its omission is noticeable, and seems to be a mark of film studio and writers’ sensitivities to the US family entertainment market. Its very success making the likelihood of a gay portrayal diminish.

Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek, David Greven
Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek, David Greven

David Greven seeks to challenge, in Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films (2009), the “…frequent accusations that the Star Trek saga refuses to represent queer sexuality. Arguing that Star Trek speaks to queer audiences through subtle yet provocative allegorical narratives” containing a “queer sensibility” from the 1960s original’s “deconstruction of the male gaze” through to the “constructions of femininity”, particularly in Star Trek: Voyager with Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine.

So, did Star Trek fail in its mission “to boldly go”? Have other SciFi franchises done any better, or has the world finally overtaken SciFi in terms of LGBTIQAP sexualities and gender. Tumblr is certainly way ahead of TV!

Sexuality & Gender identity education in Schools

This year teenage pupils were sent a 24-option gender identity survey and I was invited to speak at a number of schools and universities on dozens more labels and identities, whilst the MOGAI Tumblr enumerates hundreds. Is this confusing or liberating? Is there an agenda in gender education, should there be one? Social engineering and secular indoctrination? Are children confused by gender education at a young age?

Are the labels male and female, gay and straight, insufficient for the current generation of young human beings? What can 8 and 10 year olds teach adults about being both simply human and at the same time using a proliferation of labels outside the binary. Are children confused or liberated by more labels and identities? Do we need MOGAI watch?

Religious responses

Christian Concern has railed against primary school pupils being taught about alternate gender identities, making them “confused” and gender-neutral uniform policies. They are running a conference this November to “equip teachers and concerned adults to respond to this [society’s attitude to sex and gender] revolution, particularly at home, in schools and in wider society.”

Over the Summer in Poland Pope Francis has lamented that children are being taught at school that gender can be a choice.

Non-binary 10yo


Burka or Bikini, Niqab or Naked, female freedom or oppression?

After dozens of French councils banned abaya swimwear or ‘burkinis‘ on the beach, some being fined for it, the courts overturned the bans but some of the councils said they would continue to ban burkas on the beach in the name of freedom and security. An Italian town mayor banned women in bikinis unless they were beautiful enough to wear them! Meanwhile, Glasgow, lacking a beach, decided to issue an appropriate dress code to councillors in the wake of the killing of MP Jo Cox to ensure their fashion sense didn’t “give rise to misunderstanding”.

nudity v modesty v empowerment
nudity v modesty, female empowerment?

Whether women cover up or uncover on the beach, who decides, who offends, how far do we go so as not to offend, and how far to assert our freedoms? And who is behind all these rules? Do we blame religion, men, fashion, advertising, celebrity, beauty, the sex industry?

Come and discuss at our monthly discussion group in the Norwich Library, Tuesday 6th, 6-7pm, optional Pizza Express after.

Some of the articles up for discussion are below:

French Freedom of Expression, Burkas Incompatible?

French PM suggests naked breasts represent France better than a headscarf

Topless Marianne remark by PM Manuel Valls stirs French row

In France, the home of human rights, a grown woman asked my permission to sit on the beach

The Death of the Bikini?

The two-piece used to represent a saucy yet uncontroversial ideal of sex, summer and youth. Now its sales are tanking thanks to a combination of sun-avoidance, fitness, politics and, of course, fashion

The Burkini Ban

Abaya Burkini Wetsuit French beach ban
Only one of these was banned on a French beach

Cannes bans burkinis over suspected link to radical Islamism


Burkini ban: First French Muslim women fined for wearing garment on beach in Cannes

French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban

France Corsica brawl: Mayor bans burkinis amid tensions

Burkini ban suspended: UN backs court ruling as right-wing politicians pledge to keep ban

French mayors refuse to lift burkini ban despite court ruling

Opposition and Opinion on the Burkini Ban

Banning the burkini is misogynistic – and Western feminists are turning a blind eye

Only warped minds would impose a burkini ban

Any ban on burkinis is “bizarre” and against the principle of women’s equality, the Dutch government said today while dismissing far-right calls for the Netherlands to copy French prohibition of the Islamist beachwear.

Fashion Freedom?

“Burkini Ban” Law Restricts What French Muslim Women Can Wear at the Beach

Five reasons to wear a burkini – and not just to annoy the French

What Is The Difference Between A Burkini And A Scuba Diving Suit?

Muslim Views

The Quran doesn’t say wear hijab

I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away. The burkini does not symbolise Islam, it symbolises leisure and happiness and fitness and health. So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?

The Burkini-Bikini False Equivalence and Your Disproportionate Outrage

Over in Italy…

Once upon a time in the 90s, in Italy – No bikini for “ugly” women

Meanwhile in Glasgow…

Councillors told to dress appropriately in safety guidance following killing of MP Jo Cox

Are Men or Women Funniest? Germaine Greer & Ghostbusters

Germaine Greer once said women weren’t as funny as men. Paul Feig who directed Ghostbusters seems to think it’s men who aren’t funny. Are either of them doing a disservice to the sexes? The BBC now has female comic quotas on its panel shows to prevent all-male line-ups. Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne were both great wits and are sadly missed. Sarah Silverman‘s acerbic tongue certainly does not hold back because she is a member of the “gentler sex”! Come and debate men, women, film, comedy, sexism, stereotypes, misandry, misogyny and Germaine Greer for good measure at Norwich Millennium Library GAS group Tuesday 2 August, 6-7pm.

Germaine Greer on Comedy & Gender

Germaine Greer was in Norwich last week talking about the “disappearing woman”, she didn’t have in mind the lack of leading female comedians, although she did say in 2009 that women were not as funny as men.

“The phenomenon of men’s dominance of the comedy realm is so conspicuous that all kinds of cod explanations have been given for it. According to one cracker-barrel psychologist, the pleasure generated by a response to a gag is patterned on the male orgasm rather than the female. Another wiseacre has convinced himself that making people laugh is exerting some kind of power over them. In my version, the man who opts for the role of joker in the male group is not looking for power but for acceptance; the other roles in the group are not accessible to him, perhaps because he is weaker or poorer or less imposing than his peers. His audience has, as it were, the power of life and death over him; if he fails to get his laugh, he “dies”. Men’s dominance of standup has even been attributed to the phallic character of the microphone, absurdly enough.” – Germaine Greer, Guardian

Sexism in Stand-Up

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another act. Now, it is a girl, so be nice because she could be a bit … well, crap.”

“No, it’s not a comedy routine, but a true introduction I’ve been given on stage before my act. It’s an attitude female standups have come to expect from insecure, chauvinistic hacks with little talent. But from Germaine Greer?” – Tiffany Stevenson-Oake, Guardian

Ghostbusters and Funny Women

In the rebooted film Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig disagrees and loves funny women, despite the film being initially panned as the most hated film trailer on YouTube ever with 1 million dislikes from 38 million views.

“Hollywood, start hiring these funny women and giving them movies, please.” Feig discussed Hollywood’s women problem with MTV last week, saying the industry was “having a very hard time catching up with the modern world.” – Daily Telegraph

“Why Men Aren’t Funny” Paul Feig’s Guest Article for the Hollywood Reporter:

“In the original movie, the bad guys weren’t actually the ghosts — everybody loves Slimer and the Marshmallow Man. No, the bad guys were the clueless bureaucrats in the government, who set off a supernatural crisis through bumbling and red tape.
In this film, by contrast, the enemy is all men, while the government ends up playing dad. Every man in the movie is a combination of malevolent and moronic…It’s an overpriced self-esteem device for women betrayed by the lies of third-wave feminism. Despite pandering to the kind of woman who thinks misandry is a positive lifestyle choice, Ghostbusters is remarkably unkind to its female leads.”

Sexist Stereotypes?

“Compare the female Ghostbusters with my favorite female character of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy’s feminine qualities are part of her strength. She saves the world using her female vulnerability, not in spite of it. In fact, her femininity is the only thing that makes her capable of heroic feats.
The petty, two-dimensional feminist posturing of Ghostbusters is demeaning to all four of its leads, particularly when you consider how complex and interesting the film could have been with someone like Joss Whedon at the helm.” – Breitbart

Women’s Representation on Comedy Shows

Since 2014 the BBC has stopped panel shows such as QI , Have I Got News For You, and Mock the Week from having all-male line-ups. “All the regular comedians on the most recent series of Mock the Week were men and only five of the 38 guest panellists were women.” – BBC. But comedian Jason Mansford says they should not have announced the quota-based change publicly.

“I think that’s a boys’ game that works for boys,” Caitlin Moran said. “It’s not like they built it to screw women over, it’s just that boys built it so they made it to work for boys. If I go on there as a token woman, it’s not going to work for me,” she added.

Sex, Gender, Politics, Leadership and the EU

Is Leadership, political, religious and journalistic, too male?

What has the EU done for sex/gender equality, opportunity, and protections? How were the Leave and Remain campaigns dominated by “blokeish” male political and media voices and yet female candidates are now more to the fore in post-Brexit party leadership challenges? If women were allegedly more likely to vote Remain, and yet makeup over 50% of the electorate, how come they voted 52% Leave? All the political parties, even UKIP, could have women at the helm by October. Would female voices have run the campaigns any differently? Were male voices more prone to exaggerating facts and fears? Some religions and states still argue that “leadership is male” and “women should be silent” following only the vote of their husbands, brothers or fathers, if they are even allowed to vote at all. 60% of Christians voted Leave and 70% of Muslims voted Remain.

Discussion in Norwich Library, Tuesday 5 July, 6-7pm

Blokeish Masculinity & Male-dominated Politics

“The twin curse of masculinity and male-dominated politics helped create Brexit”

“Women will decide the EU referendum – so why [were] the campaigns so blokeish?”
Evidence points to a potentially significant difference between men and women when it comes to their views of the EU and the referendum:

  • Women were almost twice as likely to answer ‘Don’t Know’ in most EU referendum polls.
  • Women were less likely to say they are certain to vote in the referendum: 43% of men are certain which way they will vote, whether that’s ‘In’ or ‘Out’; that drops to just 29% of women.
  • Women are considerably less persuaded by UKIP, and have been less likely to vote for them. When asked how much they trust a series of different politicians when they talk about Britain’s membership of the EU, 41% of men say they trust Nigel Farage, but only 31% of women agree.
  • Intriguingly, evidence suggests that women may be more Eurosceptic than men, and more difficult to persuade to vote for Leave.
  • There are divergent patterns among different women voters: younger women are more likely than younger men to vote Remain/Left; older women are more likely than older men to vote Leave/Right.

Women’s Silence or Absent Focus?

“women’s voices have been depressingly absent…Women’s voices have not been heard anywhere near enough in the macho standoff that has passed for a campaign” – Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid

“This was a horrible campaign; an argument that until the final days of the referendum campaign was conducted largely between white middle-class men, with ill humour and little understanding of voters’ disenfranchisement” – Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party

Although the WEP were largely silent during the Referendum campaign, only writing about it after the fact.

“…a referendum campaign in which women’s voices were woefully lacking…” – Sophie Walker

“Considering they make up a slim majority of the British population, women have been notably marginalized in the EU referendum debate. The repercussions of Brexit for them as a demographic have scarcely been highlighted. As a group, women wield 1 million extra votes more than men in the June 23 referendum, yet the male-dominated Leave and Remain camps have done little to explain what either eventuality could mean for the livelihoods of the other sex…polling data compiled by YouGov [suggested] that 53% of women favour leaving the EU. However, only 68% of women said they would definitely vote in the referendum, as opposed to 75% of men. According to British Future, twice as many women as men prefer to say they don’t know which way they will vote.” – RT

“Women are more likely to say they don’t know. This is an ingrained feature of public opinion research. They are also slightly less likely than men to support Leave.” The Independent

Make your mind up!

Are women more or less likely to back the EU?

In the end, it seems a majority of women voted Leave by 52% to 48%, just like men, so was there no gendered difference? Probably there was, with younger higher-education women more likely to vote Remain and older women more likely to vote Leave than similar men.

“Neither side in the EU debate seemed that interested in women. The campaigns largely felt like men talking to one another, and a cursory glance at a debate on the matter in the House of Commons might still back that up: Europe seems to turn men on in a way it doesn’t for women. The campaigns feel rather blokey too…Even at a grassroots level the debate is rather heavy on the boys.”

“Tory minister Priti Patel claimed that “Women for Britain are fighting for the same cause” as Emmeline Pankhurst. This didn’t go down all that well with Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline’s great-granddaughter. She claimed the suffragette leader would have “been the first to champion what the EU has meant for women – including equal pay and anti-discrimination laws”.” – The Guardian

“there can be no reneging on the legislation prompted by membership of the EU that – while creaky in places – has done much to enhance the lives of women workers.” – The Daily Telegraph

On equal pay, on maternity leave, on unfair dismissal, it was the EU that forced the UK to extend those rights to all women and not just some. They also pushed for full protection from sexual harassment in the workplace.

“membership of the European Union has brought benefits for women – and particularly for women escaping violence and abuse…The EU has also done important practical work…to support the eradication of violence against women; this has been championed and prioritised by the European Parliament. This work includes the European Protection Order, the European Victims Directive, and the Lisbon Treaty…the majority of EU member states have developed national strategies and action plans to address VAWG (Violence against Women and Girls)…largely thanks to the EU… It funds EU-wide networks, such as the European Women’s Lobby and Women against Violence Europe(WAVE)…Forget house prices: this is about human lives.” – The Daily Telegraph

Are women’s views and input considered of less value than men, are they by default, less heard? Do they make better decisions?

Why Aren’t More Women in British Politics?

Despite at one stage in 2015 there being 5 female leaders, and a larger tranche of female MPs than ever before, the loudest and leading voices on Brexit were male.

“An unprecedented high of 191 women MPs (29%) were elected to the House of Commons on 7 May, an increase of 48 from the immediate post-2010 election results. At one stage during the summer, five of Britain’s main political parties were led by women – including interim party leaders Harriet Harman (Labour) and Sal Brinton (Liberal Democrats).” – PSA

And yet, Theresa May is leading the pack for Tory leader and Andrea Leadsom coming second, invoking the spirit of Margaret Thatcher and God in her ambition to be Tory leader.

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour – ‘The Women Are Coming
Quentin Letts and Laurie Penny discuss the rise of women in politics
“Theresa May is the favourite to be the Conservative leader, Angela Eagle has put name forward to take over Labour, and we already have a female First Minister in Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon. In Europe Angela Merkel is still the one in control and let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton could be US President by the end of the year. So, is this time finally the time for women politicians?”

Not to mention Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and the possibility of Suzanne Evans (UKIP) post-Nigel Farage.

GAS Sex, Gender, Leadership and EU Politics
Are women’s voices and views ignored in politics and the EU Referendum?