breaking news from the world of ideas

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 7
May 2021

Now women’s literature is cancelled

Changes to the exam syllabus in the name of 'inclusivity' are damaging to women

OCR, one of the three main exam boards in the UK, is currently asking teachers to vote on a proposed series of changes to help diversify its GCSE and A-level courses. One of the suggestions is whether to change its A-level module ‘Women in Literature’ to ‘Gender in Literature,’ as this would apparently ‘help pupils better understand the topic.’

What this would really do is erase women’s voices and their contribution to literature.

In an ideal world, female writers would have enough representation on the curriculum to not need our own “special” category —  sadly this is not the case. In the four other optional modules for the Context and Comparison paper, only two out of eight set texts are written by women. In the other paper — Shakespeare, drama and poetry before 1900 — only one out of eleven optional writers are female. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 23
April 2021

OnlyFans is an experiment in mass grooming

The service harnesses the language of sexual liberation to exploit its users

OnlyFans, an online subscription website in which (predominantly) women create and sell “adult” content, claims to be a meritocratic, risk-free, get-rich-quick scheme, but the reality is anything but. Despite the endless viral posts, like this week’s story of the “healthcare worker” who now makes one and a half times his annual salary in a month” or the “ex-teacher who earned £1million,” the truth is that the average earnings from OnlyFans are $180 a month, and most successful accounts are run by porn stars, influencers and celebrities.

For the vast majority of people, the risks are simply not worth the rewards. Because the marketplace is so crowded, most users promote their OnlyFans through their social media accounts, so it is hard to remain completely anonymous. There are numerous examples of women being outed as sex workers, fired, or even having their children kicked out of school. Women also report being stalked, harassed, hacked, and asked to engage in behaviours that make them feel uncomfortable like choking – and yet OnlyFans is still glamorised as a safe, sanitised form of sex work. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 29
January 2021

A public health campaign based on a pussy pun — really?

MyGP's new campaign has got people talking for all the wrong reasons

Attendance for smear tests is at a 19 year low. According to the BBC, in April and May last year 600,000 tests failed to go ahead, adding to the backlog of 1.5 million appointments missed annually. Each year initiatives are launched to try and encourage women to attend, ranging from scare tactics of shaved heads and don’t regret it later warnings to infantilising slogans like “don’t be a diva, it’s only a beaver!”

This year’s campaign by MyGP is firmly in the latter camp: a bizarre call to arms for women to post pictures of their “furry friends” in order to normalise the fact that many of us have had to “abandon our usual grooming regimes” and so may feel embarrassed about revealing our “bits”. Oh, and by “furry friends” they mean cats: “long emblematic of our nether regions”. Yes, it’s a public health campaign based on a pussy pun. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 8
January 2021

Remote learning? 1.8m children don’t have a laptop

Digital poverty is bleaker than ever, and the government still has no answer

When it comes to lockdowns, third time isn’t the charm; statistics around digital poverty are bleaker than ever. Ofcom estimates that over 1.8 million children do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet, and 800,000 pupils live in homes with only a mobile internet connection.

The government has failed to deliver on its pledge to provide laptops to the most disadvantaged pupils; by August only 37% of pupils eligible had been able to access a device. Only 51 per cent of households earning between £6,000 and £10,000 have access to the internet at all.

At least during the first lockdown, the government had the excuse that the situation was genuinely unprecedented, and could claim that teething problems were inevitable. 10 months on, and the government has no such defence. ...  Continue reading