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Amy Callaghan

Young voters proved everyone wrong this election, and we’re not about to stop campaigning

Author:
corbsisadorbs

By Amy Callaghan

In the UK’s general election on the 8th of June, the exit polls predicted a shock result which was irreconcilable with the state of British politics when Theresa May called the election on the 18th of April. At that time, the Tories were expected to at the very least hold on to, and indeed likely substantially increase, their parliamentary majority, giving Theresa May a greater mandate and aiding her legitimacy in Brexit negotiations. The Labour Party awaited decimation. However, the exit polls predicted a hung Parliament, and as the night went on, it became increasingly clear that the Conservative party could not expect to form a majority government this time around. At the time of writing, the Conservatives hold 318 seats, losing 12, and Labour hold 261 seats, gaining 29. The reason for this transformation in the political landscape bringing about an unexpected victory for the political left? Young voter turnout.

72% is the estimated turnout figure for voters aged 18-24 (although the veracity of this figure and other turnout figures is unlikely to be confirmed for around a week), a massive increase on the estimated 43% turnout in the last general election, and higher even than their turnout at the EU referendum, which was around 64%. This huge upswing in engagement among young voters marks a significant shift in establishment politics, which relies more heavily than they will admit on apathetic young voters – in fact, the Sun ran a feature online on the day of the election this year on how to actively prevent young people from voting. While the piece is obviously writing in a joking tone, the message is nothing short of repellent – claiming that young people will ‘do the wrong thing’ at the polls as though their views on their future matter less than the accepted and established Conservative perspective more favoured by older voters.

The Conservative party themselves did not do much to engage young voters, particularly in comparison with the Labour party. While the Labour party encouraged young people to register to vote and then get out and vote consistently throughout their campaign, the Tories did not use social media to encourage voter registration at all during theirs. This is evidently a deliberate lack of engagement with young voters, as the Conservatives are aware that young voters tend to lean much more towards progressive parties and politics. Their high turnout marks an important shift in British politics which will hopefully persist in the future.

Another vital benefit of increasing young voter engagement and turnout is the balancing effect it has on the bias present in traditional media such as television and newspapers. Young people are significantly more likely to engage in politics on social media rather than in newspapers, allowing a counteraction of the bias present in overwhelmingly right-wing media sources, which often blatantly lie and misrepresent Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. Even in viewing television debates, young voters are more likely to read reactions and responses to the debates on social media rather than in newspapers. This helps to account for the success of Corbyn and the Labour party, surprising to many – the negative portrayal and scaremongering within traditional media led many (including more liberal publications such as the Guardian) to believe success was utterly unlikely, yet online engagement of young voters was evidently hugely effective in changing the result.

Hopefully this result will show young people the power they have to effect change in British politics. Many disillusioned by the Brexit result (which did not reflect their views or interests) channelled this frustration and fury into thoroughly knocking the wind out of the Tories’ sails, as demonstrated by the election results. This sends a message to the British establishment – do not underestimate or ignore young people – but it also sends a message to young people themselves. We can affect change – we can massively alter the results expected and established. The Tories are in a significantly weakened state rather than a position of enormous power – thanks to us. Maintaining this engagement and energy means opposition in months and years to follow can be effective and empowering. Young people have proven that we can change the face of British politics, and we certainly intend to continue.

10 Funny Feminists you should check out on Twitter

Author:
2443947064_35a2b0cfbd_o

By Amy Callaghan

Twitter has the potential to be an incredibly grim place, particularly for women. Often, women receive insults, hate and even threats from those – usually men – who take issue with what they say publicly, even if they didn’t particularly intend to make any kind of statement. Fortunately, amidst all the negativity, there are plenty of women on Twitter who combine feminism with humour, even at the risk of potentially receiving hate. When the world is all doom and gloom, brighten your timeline with these hilarious women offering a humorous take on everything from gender inequality to the latest political horror show.

Lex Croucher @lexcanroar
Lex Croucher is a British vlogger who is vocal about social issues through all her social media channels. Combine this with her incredibly dry sarcastic humour, and her Twitter is a reliable source of simultaneously relatable and relevant content.

Ruby Tandoh @rubytandoh Ruby Tandoh was a finalist on the Great British Bake Off in 2013. She is a witty and outspoken young queer chef whose unapologetic passion for food – no matter how ‘unhealthy’ – makes a refreshing change from the pretentiousness of many food writers. She’s also unapologetic about her love of One Direction, the Kardashians, and junk food – her Twitter is a potent blend of these ingredients making for an incredibly satisfying addition to your timeline.

Danielle Henderson @knottyyarn

Danielle Henderson is a busy woman – when she’s not writing for The New York Times and The Guardian or creating the hilarity that is Feminist Ryan Gosling, she’s keeping it real on Twitter with her tweets centring on race, class and gender.

Gabby Noone @twelvoclocke Gabby Noone is a staff writer for Rookie magazine. Her (seriously underrated) Twitter will bring you the witty observations of an unapologetic millennial, as well as genius insights about how to manage smartphones after getting acrylics (rhinestone styluses, if you were wondering). 

Rosie Fletcher @rosieatlarge

Rosie Fletcher is a young writer living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her Twitter offers an entertaining mix of knitting, feminism, children’s literature, and her political views, in addition to offering her enlightening perspective on experiencing living with a disability.

Kashana Cauley @kashanacauley Kashana Cauley is a writer whose tweets – even those centring on serious issues and situations – and are often loaded with withering sarcasm.

WomanAgainstFeminism @NoToFeminism

Even if you aren’t already following this satirical account, chances are you’ve seen it retweeted a few times. Their tweets make fun of the frequent reasons cited by women who claim to be against feminism in the most ridiculous and hilarious way possible, shining a light on how insane it is for any woman to consider herself against feminism.

Mara Wilson @MaraWritesStuff The star of ‘Matilda’ from all those years ago is now a super cool, super feminist, super funny queer writer. If you’re not already following her, you definitely should be.

Naomi Ekperigin @Blacktress

Comedian and writer Naomi Ekperigin is as funny on Twitter as she is writing for the commercial and critical success Broad City. Her tweets are hilarious and relatable, but she doesn’t shy away from the big issues either.

Alison Leiby @AlisonLeiby Alison Leiby is a comedian and writer in New York whose tweets, particularly those of a feminist persuasion, are dripping with sarcasm, perfectly exposing and making light of some of the ridiculous stereotypes placed on women.

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The Diplomatic Disaster of Trump’s Relations with China

Author:
5440390625_feab8a9520_b

By Amy Callaghan

The relationship between the US and China is one of the most significant relationships of the 21st century. China’s role as an international power and its place as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council means that it is a vital and powerful ally to the US internationally.

US concerns about the rising power of China in East Asia, and Chinese concerns about the tendency of the US to interfere and impede on affairs which China considered purely domestic, have been the main reason for tensions between the two countries in the past.

Since the end of the Cold War, a delicate diplomacy has emerged between China and the US, hinging on a core set of values and established rules of interaction between the two. Both countries are incredibly reliant on each other both from an international diplomacy point of view as well as in terms of economics and trade, and this is why the election of Donald Trump as president of the US has caused such concerns over the future of the US-Chinese relationship.

One of the most crucial aspects of the relationship is adherence to the ‘One China’ policy. Put into simple terms, the ‘One China’ policy means that the US only recognises the People’s Republic of China, governed in Beijing, rather than the Republic of China, governed from Taipei in Taiwan.

In the past, issues between the US and China which have nearly led to open conflict have centred on perceived breaking of this principle – for example, the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis nearly resulted in use of military force by the US and China against each other. This crisis was caused by a state visit from the newly elected president of Taiwan to the US, which appeared to China to be a direct threat to the One-China principle. From this perspective, then, it is clear why then president-elect Trump’s phone call to the president of Taiwan in December 2016 caused tensions between the US and China, with experts from the White House rushing to assure the Chinese government in Beijing that the US intended to adhere to the One-China policy.

Evan Medeiros, the Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times: “The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action of historic proportions. Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations.”

Diplomatic blunders such as these are why the presidency of Donald Trump could throw established international relationships into chaos.

Domestically, of course, Trump’s presidency has been anything but peaceful and stable – he has demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of the judicial system among other things, as well as enacting essentially unconstitutional policies such as the Muslim ban. However, it will be these international diplomatic blunders which cause Trump – and the US as a whole – the greatest issues in maintaining their status as a power with unrivalled global influence. In recent days, Trump has committed to maintaining the One-China policy in a phone call to Xi Jinping, the president of China, yet the fear and uncertainty about Trump’s intentions caused by his initial blunder and stance on the issue is now a part of the Chinese perspective on the US for the foreseeable future.

It is unclear, as with so many issues arising from Trump’s presidency, how this situation will play out over the next four years. Maintaining a stable and cooperative relationship with China was one of the priorities of the Obama administration, as its importance as an ally of the US was given the value and significance it deserved.

However, with his customary tough talk and his ambitions to ‘Make America Great Again’, Trump could completely throw off the balance of the international stage, and nothing is a clearer indicator of this than his interactions with China up to this point. Threatening the stability of America’s relationship with China would have disastrous repercussions globally, from an economic perspective as well as a threat to keeping the peace between the two countries.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys – A Review of Viv Albertine’s autobiography

Author:
Viv-Albertine

By Amy Callaghan

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. According to Viv Albertine, guitarist of revolutionary all-girl punk band the Slits, this was a phrase expressed frequently to her by her mother during her childhood and adolescence, ‘Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys, boys – that’s all you ever think about!’. On the surface, that’s what her autobiography appears to be about as well – Albertine’s memories and anecdotes are anchored in the clothes, music, and boys influencing her at the time. Yet her book is more than a whirlwind tale of the legendary punk scene, told through aesthetics only – it is an open and thought-provoking appraisal of Albertine’s entire life.

Albertine’s autobiography is, as punk fans would hope, an insight into what it was like on the inside of the punk scene in the 1960s and 70s, as well as what it was like to be a woman in such a world. However, this is not, in my opinion, the main reason why this book stands out as a radical piece of feminist literature. Rather, it is Albertine’s brutally honest assessment of her whole life, pieced together in an occasionally jarring order, which is the most striking and revelatory aspect of this book. From her childhood, raised by a single mother in North London, and her maintaining issues with her father until his death in 2009, to her battle with cancer, her desperation for a baby and her struggle to conceive, her time as a Hastings housewife, and how the deterioration of her marriage coincided with her increasing desperation to make music again, Albertine holds nothing back, and it is this (at times borderline alarming) determination to be completely truthful about her experiences as a woman throughout every stage of her life which makes this such an inspiring work.

Albertine’s completely frank writing is at times almost unnerving. She doesn’t care if the reader is made uncomfortable by what she has to say or how she says it – the entire book is like a declaration of ‘well, these are my experiences, I lived through this, and I’m certainly not going to sugar-coat it’. It doesn’t, however, read as intentionally playing on shock value. Above all, it is honest. It’s refreshing to hear directly from a woman on often taboo subjects such as menstruation, masturbation, crabs – Albertine refuses to fall into the cultural trap of preserving the modesty of a woman’s body, and writes about these experiences in the same reflective and honest way in which she confronts everything else. It is brilliant and defiant in its rationality.

She writes openly about an abortion she had in 1978 and about how she did not regret it until 20 years later, and has not stopped regretting it since. Still, however, she is emphatic in her support for the right for a woman to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This section of the book takes on a new significance when she writes, many chapters later, of her difficulties in conceiving, the babies she lost through miscarriages, the amount of money and effort poured into IVF, and her eventual success and joy in becoming a mother. Albertine’s writing here is emotive and powerful, and the reader cannot help but feel strongly for her life – for someone unfamiliar with Albertine’s personal life, one could almost begin to root for her as one does for a character in a fictional novel, were it not for her occasional italicised retrospective remarks from her current perspective.

Of course, Albertine’s experiences as a woman in the 1970s punk scene is a substantial section of the book, and incredibly revelatory in itself. The Slits were a defining band in post-punk, and a massive step forward for representation of women in punk as well as in the music industry as a whole. When she writes of the complete lack of representation of any women doing what she wanted to do in music – Albertine couldn’t see any female punk guitarists so firmly believed for a long time that her only access to that world was through the men she associated with – it hammers home the lack of representation women still face in the 21st century. The fact that a girl with no musical training was determined enough to pick up a guitar and play, particularly in such a trailblazing band as the Slits, is nothing short of inspiring.

In an interview with Paper magazine 6 months after the book’s UK release, Albertine expressed her surprise that anyone was inspired by the book. ‘I wanted to show the flipside of someone who looks like they’ve got their life together and what is really underneath it all, so I wrote all the downsides, and yet people found it very inspiring.’ she said. Yet it is difficult to see how Albertine’s book couldn’t be inspiring. Albertine’s experiences, while at points completely distinctive to her era and generation, will hold familiarity with women across every generation, and her publication of this honest confrontation and assessment of her life is an incredibly brave decision.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys was recommended to me as a feminist and music lover. But I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their interest in music. Even if you’ve never heard of the Slits, never been into punk or any kind of subversive culture, there will be something in Albertine’s book that will resonate with you and your own experiences. And even if there isn’t – her life is bloody interesting enough to have you hooked regardless.

Why We Need The Istanbul Convention

Author:
istanbul-petition

By Anna Hill

Trigger Warning: sexual violence

The Istanbul Convention is a document that sets out a legal framework to tackling violence against women and girls. It sets minimum standards for the government to meet when tackling this issue and will ensure that governments prevent violence, protect those that experience or could experience that violence and prosecute perpetrators. Many countries have ratified [i.e. accepted into law] the convention already such as: Denmark, France, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and Albania. To read more check out this page.

I asked fellow PBG writers why we need the Istanbul Convention so badly:

We need the Istanbul Convention because we are simply not doing enough to protect victims of sexual violence, educate the general public on this issue, and punish the perpetrators of such acts. I support the ratification of the Istanbul Convention because as a survivor of child molestation I need support and security I need the assurance that there will be less people like me – less people who suffer from flashbacks and panic attacks due to those events and whose lives are affected by the violence they have faced. – Anon

I could list off a lot of statistics about gender based violence. The fact that 1 in 5 women in the UK will experience sexual assault in her lifetime; that over 20,000 girls under 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation each year; that one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. I could tell you that 1 in 3 school girls experience unwanted sexual touching; that 85,000 women are raped each year; and that 2 women a week in the UK alone are killed by a current or former partner. The numbers are shocking, and they’re a big part of the reason why we need the Istanbul Convention. But these are not just numbers- behind every number is a person. That Some of these people are people I love, people you love. One of those people is me and it might be you. The fact is that I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t know someone who has suffered from gender-based violence, or is a survivor of it themselves. We need to do something about this. This is why we need the Istanbul Convention. – Yas

The Istanbul Convention was signed by the UK government on 8 June 2012. Since then, the government has supposedly taken steps to facilitate the ratification of the Convention – such as creating legislation on forced marriage and FGM – yet continues to stall fully ratifying the Convention into UK law. Why is the government hesitating in creating a safer country for women across the UK? Every 30 seconds, the police receive a call related to domestic violence. Each year, up to 3 million women experience violence in the UK. In ratifying the Istanbul Convention, the government would be committing to implementing measures to ensure that the UK is a safe place for women. The measures within the Istanbul Convention form a structure under which violence against women would be prevented and women and girls would be protected, with prosecution of violence. It would implement safe spaces and refuges for survivors, allowing women to thrive rather than live in fear. Ratifying the Istanbul Convention in the UK is long overdue – countries such as Italy, Spain and France have already ratified the Convention. We all have the right to a life free of violence and fear. The Istanbul Convention facilitates the measures necessary for this, and its time the UK government responded to its commitment to ratify this. – Amy
Check out the petition, website and twitter for more info and ways to get involved!

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