Ideas & Discussion

How powerful should social media activism be?

A furor of social media activism has erupted lately, particularly on the topics of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration law, Clarkson’s dismissal, and Batgirl. Yet these events have also called into question social media activism’s effectiveness, as petitioners were left disgruntled by the decisions made by the BBC and DC Comics. DC Comics has been accused of allowing itself to be censored, while over a million people have expressed disappointment over Clarkson’s dismissal. Those criticising these decisions, however, have forgotten that social media activism is effective because it is based on the power of the consumer and the voter—and that this, thankfully, has its limits. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

What is happening to the word ‘beautiful’?

‘Beautiful’ has always been a battleground in feminist discussions of representation. While it may seem counterintuitive to argue that we should consider more women as beautiful while also arguing that a woman’s capabilities are worth more than her appearance, tackling the rigid definition of beautiful has been important for intersectional feminism. A traditionally beautiful woman is white; women of colour are more likely to be sexualised instead. A beautiful woman is also normally able-bodied. She usually does not appear to be economically below the middle-class, something that is subtly but pervasively inherent in our ideas of the ideal body shape (too slender for manual labour) and the current trend of tanning (demonstrating leisure time and disposable income). A beautiful woman often also has long hair, a delicate face, and big eyes; she is vulnerable, not strong. So renegotiating this limited meaning of beautiful is a powerful act. Great progress has made with it, which should be cause for optimism. However, recent redefinitions are more troubling than empowering. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Asia

The Japanese national identity: the barrier to gender equality

Japanese identity has been becoming increasingly debated over the past few years. Recent conflicts over Japan’s colonial past, such as the Islands dispute and comfort women have been exacerbated by the embracing of an old-fashioned Japanese identity by nationalist Prime Minister Abe. Abe’s politics hearken back to an imperial glory of traditional Japan. Yet at the same time, the Japanese government is attempting to tackle the poor state of gender equality. Unfortunately, the stronger the Japanese traditional identity is, the weaker the already ailing fight for women’s rights becomes because traditional Japanese culture often promotes a passive image of womanhood. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Ideas & Discussion

Tattoos and the rebranding of class identity

The image of tattoos has changed, in more ways than one. They have gone from simple and standardised to high-quality pieces of artwork, and they have also gone from working-class, tacky, and hipster, to relatively normalised. Yet the modern surge of ‘tattoo art’ is not just the typical mainstreaming of taboos. It is also a response to the fragmentation of class identities and part of a class identity creation that simultaneous idealises the traditional working class while denigrating poorer people. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

First-past-the-post is no longer fit for purpose

Earlier this month, a group of Labour and Green supporters launched www.voteswap.org. This website operates a system in which Labour voters and Green voters ‘swap’ votes to their mutual advantage. Green voters pledge to vote Labour in seats that can win; in return, Labour voters pledge to vote Green in seats that Labour can’t win. Labour supporters living in unwinnable or safe seats have the opportunity to transfer their vote to a marginal seat, where they are more likely to influence the outcome. Conversely, Green supporters have the opportunity to ensure that the Green national vote share is as high as possible, while working towards the toppling of the current Coalition Government. For Labour and Green supporters, everyone wins. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Why isn’t politics taught in school?

The outcome of the upcoming election will have huge implications on the lives of young people. Decisions on the budget deficit, welfare spending, job creation, house prices, tuition fees, climate change, and swathes of other issues will have more repercussions on the young than anyone else. It’s a travesty therefore that young people are so disempowered. The following two passages in the Conservative Party manifesto typify this. (Read More)

UK

Cuts to legal aid are undermining our justice system

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, in which equality before the law was enshrined as one of the cornerstones of our justice system. Clause 40 of the Magna Carta reads: “to no one will we sell, to no one deny… justice”. It compels the justice system to treat everybody equally, without privilege, bias, or discrimination. This isn’t limited to making everybody subject to the same laws; it also entails safeguarding access to justice. It involves making sure everybody can vindicate their rights with adequate legal representation, irrespective of their means. (Read More)

UK

Where have the far-right gone?

In the European Elections last year, far-right groups across Europe made unprecedented electoral breakthroughs. Marine Le Pen’s National Front stormed to victory, winning 26% of the popular vote in what the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls described as a ‘political earthquake’. The far-right Danish People’s Party enjoyed similar success, topping the national poll at 27%. More or less openly neo-Nazi parties sent MEPs to Brussels for the first time, with Germany’s National Democratic Party and the Greece’s Golden Dawn winning 1 and 3 seats respectively. (Read More)