Image Credit: bones64
Summer term brings a host of emotions, with exams and deadlines looming alongside the distant, glistening hope of pub gardens and sun tans. As a third year, I am attempting to use the time to tick off every coffee shop and bar before I head off into the deep depths of adulthood. However, for some students like myself, the past few weeks have brought not just academic nerves and late night energy drinks, but a more sinister problem too.
In March, The Free Speech Society postponed an event hosting Julie Bindel, a feminist with contentious views on gender and bisexuality. Her views may be seen as insults to bisexual women and transgender people (and you can read more about this here). Once the event was postponed, students protesting the talk were dismissed by Bindel, with swathes of her Twitter army belittling the students concerned by her talk with names like “precious darlings” and “tedious teenagers”.
As a bisexual woman, researching my March article on Julie Bindel was frustrating and upsetting. Reading reply upon reply from various Twitter accounts discounting my sexuality and suggesting I am weak and immature for suggesting her appearance could be harmful to members of the community was no mean feat. It is easy when there is such a controversy going on in the space around you, to question yourself and to be pulled into the negativity and anger. Just scrolling through the Twitter replies on the event makes me shudder when I think about the students who are being targeted for speaking up for themselves. It is not for anyone else to decide what is offensive and unsafe. Words can hurt, and they will.
Yet in all the difficulty, one point pervades. Julie Bindel cannot, and will not, define whether we are part of the LGBTQ+ community or not.
In recent weeks various groups across the university, including Feminist Society and the YUSU LGBTQ+ network, have hosted discussions around the topic, and are planning a protest for the Bindel talk. It is clear that a difficult situation for many, has become a moment of education and teamwork. So instead of hatred, the whole saga fills me with hope. Seeing members of the university come together to educate themselves on issues like sex workers, and to provide each other with resources and support, reflects exactly why university life is so special at York. The focus doesn’t have to be on Bindel’s words anymore, but instead on the comradery that has flourished.
When I enrolled on my History and Politics university degree, I signed up to more than a timetable of lectures and seminars. I entered into three years of academic rigour and meeting people different to myself. This proves exactly that.
This edition of The Weekly Nouse is another testament to this. University should be about more than the textbooks, and we need to enjoy life in all its capacity. Thus, we have made this a welcome break from revision, filled to the brim with summery goodness.
Whether it be our list of top stress-busting cocktails (a tipple I can always get behind), a playlist jam packed with Nouse’s favourite summer tunes, or a business interview with FortyFive Vinyl Cafe, this edition should get you ready for a truly buzzing summer in York.
So let’s not worry about what Bindel has said anymore. Let’s learn in a safe environment, protest as a team, and focus on the positive vibes instead. Now, let’s get these exams done and head to the pub.