Voting: There is NEVER a reason to be silent

May 22, 2014 in Activism, Politics, Slideshow

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I realise it’s been an age since I posted on here, but today I have had a few messages asking me to explain why I feel so passionately that people should exercise their right to vote. By the same token, I’ve seen a few disheartening statuses from people who feel such a sense of disillusionment with UK politics that they see no point at all in partaking in the election process. My answer to you is: THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO BE SILENT. 

I understand completely why so many people feel alienated from the political process, or so severely let down by those who claim to represent us. I understand that you feel that the politicians are in the pay of big business, that all the major parties are the same, that no one is representing your views, that the smaller parties and independents don’t stand a hope in hell, that the political system of our country is broken or, devastatingly, that you believe voting doesn’t change anything.

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IOAI.com Wins University Of Bath Departmental & Faculty Placement Award

June 10, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Personal, Politics, Prizes, Slideshow, University of Bath

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Insight Of An Intern has been awarded both the departmental and faculty placement award by the University of Bath. 

I’m absolutely over the moon about this; not just because it’s a lovely accolade, but because it mean that this blog may help present and future interns in their experiences.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support IOAI.com.

The Lady is Not Returning: Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

April 8, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

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On April the 8th 2013, Margaret Thatcher’s spokesman Lord Bell announced that the former prime minister had died following a stroke. Reactions in both the public and private spheres ranged from the caterwauling lamentation of the death of ‘the greatest British peacetime prime minister‘ to shouts of joy and calls for a public holiday to celebrate, vowing never to sanitise her ‘corrosive legacy’.

With an anti-Thatcher rally marking my first venture into the world of politics (admittedly, I was in-utero at the time!) I’ve long had a fascination for the heated reactions our first, and so far only, female Prime Minister provoked – and continues to provoke to this day. In particular, the way in which Margaret Thatcher came to power as leader of the Conservative party at the height of the women’s movement, yet remained completely apart from feminist campaigns, passions and identity.

I should also probably admit that a small part of me died when I learned that, in 1997, Geri Halliwell (of girl-power band The Spice Girls fame) referred to Maggie as “the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology.”

So why exactly does ‘Iron Spice’ get such a hard press from the feminist movement?

True, in Margaret Thatcher we saw a woman who achieved something that no British woman had done before or since, and that no woman in the United States has ever achieved. Yet the truth is that being the first woman British Prime Minister does not automatically make you a feminist icon.

Indeed, Maggie herself was quick to distance herself from the sisterhood, remarking that:

 “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”

For me, the mark of a ‘feminist icon’ is one who is equality-positive. She or he openly fights machismo and misogyny. Comparatively, on rape, domestic violence, childcare, benefits for single mothers, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual inequality, Thatcher did nothing. On top of this, Maggie allowed a grand total of ONE woman to her cabinet, Baroness Young.

That said, I feel Margaret Thatcher is perhaps over-reviled in today’s Leftist press – she was no worse than many of the men before her, or since, or now. It disturbs me that she is singled out and ruined with special hatred, base insults and grotesque mockery while male public figures far more loathsome are treated more respectfully. It seems a major part of her political legacy has been used as an excuse to justify the misogynist backlash against female leadership.

In summary, today I lament the loss of someone who could have been an incredible advocate for the women’s movement, and the equality of women everywhere. Instead of reminiscing about a true heroine of our time, I am mourning the waste of a remarkable opportunity, and am left chewing over the bitter taste of a staunchly reactionary matriarch who cared little for equality of any sort and who had a contemptuous indifference to those who she should otherwise have been helping.

International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2013 in Afterhours, International Day of Happiness, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics

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I hope you’re smiling, because March the 20th is (the first) International Day of Happiness.

As far as ‘International Days’ go, today is a mere dribbling baby; established by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012, Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/281, which states:

The General Assembly, […] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, […] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities […]

In keeping with the spirit of today, here’s a list of 25 things which ought to make you smile – or at least soften that grimace:

  1. The chances of you (as opposed to someone else) being born is about 1 in 40 million.
  2. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room.
  3. If you say “my cocaine” you sound like Michael Caine saying his own name.
  4. Smiles really are contagious. Scientists in Sweden concluded that people had difficulty frowning when the looked at other subjects who were smiling.
  5. Every year, millions of trees grow thanks to squirrels forgetting where they buried their nuts.
  6. A pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes.
  7. Penguins only have one mate their entire life and “propose” by giving their mate a pebble.
  8. Otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other.
  9. Wayne Allwine (the voice of Mickey Mouse) and Russi Taylor (the voice of Minnie Mouse) were married in real life.
  10.  For someone, somewhere in the world, today is the most amazing day of their life.
  11.  Sea horses mate for life, are completely faithful and travel together by holding on to each others tails.
  12. The kingdom of Bhutan use ‘gross national happiness’ as a key national indicator.
  13. A group of porcupines is called a prickle.
  14. Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.
  15. We’ve all been here forever. Every bit of matter we see has been here since the beginning of time and it always will be.
  16. Further to number 12, watch THIS VIDEO
  17. Costa Rica is statistically the happiest nation on Earth.
  18. Worms communicate by snuggling.
  19.  2013 is the first year since 1987 that consists for four different digits.
  20. Stressed is ‘desserts’ spelled backwards.
  21. Charlie Chaplin once entered a competition and won third prize. The competition was a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  22. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and nobody knows why.
  23. A mere 20 minutes of exercise, three days each week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.
  24.  Money does not buy happiness. After having your basic material needs met, additional money does not have any impact on your chemical levels of happiness.
  25. The most powerful way to increase your short-term feelings of happiness is to perform random acts of kindness to others, or to send a letter of gratitude to someone you care about. Five such acts in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months.

Know of any other interesting facts to make us smile? Please share them in the comments or drop me a message.

UPDATE: UoB Responds to ‘Spotted’ Page

January 18, 2013 in Activism, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Social Media, Technology, University of Bath

In the face of increasing pressure from sections of the University of Bath community and beyond, the University of Bath has responded by posting the below statement on the ‘Spotted: University of Bath Library’ group page.

UoB Response

Details of the UoB Dignity and Respect Policy can be found here

Spotted at a University Near You: Sexism, Classism and Racism

January 16, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow, Social Media, University of Bath

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An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

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An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

UPDATE: Please click here to see the University of Bath’s statement on the matter.

Since first hearing about ‘Spotted at…‘ Facebook pages — the latest craze to hit UK Universities — I must admit to not having paid them much attention. Frankly, I wasn’t too bothered about what sounded like a rather more risqué version of those cute Metro ‘Missed Connections‘ snippets.

Apparently prolific in the university social media scene, UoB’s very own ‘Spotted: University Bath Library’ page has gained over 4000 likes since its inception in early December 2012. The premise of such groups, for those who may not have had the pleasure of first hand experience, is that students make observations about fellow students in the library which are then re-posted on the ‘Spotted’ page.

AboutSpottedatBath

Innocent enough, you’d think — but the page has been coming under fire over claims of promoting sexual harassment, sexism, racism and classism, and is facing a vocal backlash from many in the University of Bath community. 

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Clicktivism: A Model For 21st Century Activism?

November 28, 2012 in Activism, London Living, Personal, Politics, Slideshow, Social Media Marketing, Technology

A war is being fought. Its battlefields are the pages of social networking sites across the globe, and its soldiers are armed with placards and computer cursors. This is the battle of traditional activism versus clicktivism.

As a politics student who recently co-coordinated the launch of Peace Of Paper, an online community peace project, and who works within the field of online community management, this topic is one which continues to perturb me, often leading to my changing opinion throughout any discussion about its intrinsics.

Despite what you may think, the conflict between traditional activists opposing the online marketisation of social change and digital activists (often referred to derogatively as ‘slacktivists’) is not a particularly new one. Back in 1987, a husband and wife team sold their California-based software company for $13.8m, allowing the politically left-leaning founders to start an online political organisation called ‘MoveOn’. This site combined the principles of modern marketing with the technical skills of computer programming, and has been referred to as ‘the model for 21st century activism’.

Not everyone shares this optimistic view, however. In 2010, Micah White wrote “we’ve come to rely far too heavily on a particular form of internet organizing…we have become so dependent on digital gimmicks that our revolutionary potential is now constrained”.

In many ways this rings true; we have become obsessed with the digital marketing measurements of click-throughs, retweets and likes, assigning value only to that which we can quantitatively record. By doing this, we neglect a vital human element; that spark behind activist movements and revolution which ignites and inspires each individual to stand up, raise their voice and be heard.

Micah White goes on to argue that ‘clicktivism reinforces the fear of standing out from the crowd and taking a strong position. It discourages calling for drastic action. And as such, clicktivism will never breed social revolution. To think that it will is a fallacy. One that is dawning on us’.

Could this be right? In 2012, are we completely turning our backs on the trend of online petitions and ‘click causes’? If not, should we be?

Contrary to what I’ve written in the past, I would argue not. I’d like to speak out in defence of clicktivism; a bit of online activism for online activism, if you will.

Whilst it is certainly true that clicktivism often lacks the traditional gusto and media-friendly frenzy witnessed in ‘real life’ activism, such as protests and marches, it shouldn’t be consigned to the scrapheap of irrelevancy quite yet. In fact, in many ways it is doing a service for traditional activism by piquing the interest of those who might not otherwise have noticed a cause – clicktivism places the issues of today slap bang in your face(book) and makes them hard to ignore.

Critics of digital activism are often quick to loudly dismiss it as ineffective and inefficient, but often they are referencing only the ‘passive clicktivism’ tactics such as online petitions and Facebook status campaigns. They fall into the trap of overlooking the more proactive (though not necessarily positive or indeed completely successful) digital projects and organisations, a handful of which are outlined below.

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NaBloPoMo Entry 4: What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

November 5, 2012 in NaBloPoMo, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt took me rather by surprise; as a politics student, it feels like there’s just too much to say on this matter for a quick daily blog post. With that in mind, I decided to focus on something which most of you know is an important issue to me; gender equality and the importance of women voting in the US election. 

I know by this point some of you will already be rolling your eyes and thinking ‘not this again’, but the fact is it matters. Aside from the historical reasons  for voting (remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote in the US, after many were jailed for picketing the White House) but because the 2012 campaign trail has at US women were granted the been littered with issue relating to gender equality.

Here are a select few:

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