Laura Bates: Get Talking Feminism

This event is great for:
Getting young people engaging with and talking about feminism.

Summary:
Watch a video of writer Laura Bates’ 2016 Book Festival event and then use her top tips as a prompt for discussions around feminism.


Introduction:
In her 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival event Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, gave some tips on how to start discussing feminism with classes or groups.

Watch her full event recording and then use the discussion points below to get talking about the subject.


Activity – Discussion Points

  • #EverydaySexism
    Laura founded the Everyday Sexism Project. Listen to the examples she gives of her own experiences in the event video (at around 53 minutes 30 seconds), or look on twitter at #everydaysexism or on www.everydaysexism.com. Do you have your own examples? If not, talk to a female friend or relative about theirs. Then write your own #everydaysexism tweet (remember it needs to be under 140 characters) and either tweet it, or share it with your class. Talk about your tweets, or the stories online. Do you think that the website and hashtag are important to encourage people to share these stories? Is there a danger if these stories aren’t shared?
  • Women in Society
    In the event (at around 6 minutes 30 seconds), Laura quotes a vast number of statistics relating to sexism in politics, the media, the arts and the workplace, which offset the belief that as a society we have reached gender equality.

Do these stats surprise you? How do they make you feel?

In the UK, fewer than 1/3 of our MPs are female.
There are more men in Westminster now than there have ever been women
Only 18 of 108 High Court Judges are female.
At the National Gallery in London, out of a collection of 1,200 paintings there are 10 paintings by women.
There are 573 listed statues around the country commemorating people of inspiration but only 15% of them are of women and only one of them is of a black woman.
Fewer than 1 in 10 of our engineers is female.
Though 50% of chemistry undergraduates are female, only 6% of professors are.
Women only write 1/5 of front page newspaper articles, and 84% of those articles are about a male subject or expert.
Women only have 28% of speaking roles in major films every year but they’re three times more like likely to take their clothes off.
More than 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year.

  • Sexism in the Media
    In the event video (at 13 minutes 40 seconds), Laura highlights sexist media coverage during the 2016 Rio Olympics with articles including:
    Wife of a Bears’ linesman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics.
    Helen Skelton, Becky Adlington and Gabby Logan battled it out in the style stakes in Rio… so who took home the gold medal for best dressed?
    Super-high cuts, clashing colours and a LOT of crystals: The best and worst gymnastic leotards at the Rio Olympics.

Find some examples of this online – Laura links to many in her article The hotly contested Olympic medal table of sexism.

Read them and discuss with your class. Perhaps you could try to rewrite some of the headlines or articles yourselves.

  • Sexism in Social Media
    In the event (at 33 minutes), one of the audience members asks Laura if she thinks the rise of social media has been good or bad for feminism. What do you think? Give examples of social media being used positively or negatively in sexist issues. Has social media made you feel empowered or disempowered at times?
  • Embarrassed about Breastfeeding?
    In the event Jenny Niven, the chair, brings up poet Hollie McNish’s poem about breastfeeding, Embarrassed, and the recent video of her performing the work. Watch the video below and talk about the subject. Were you aware of the issues she talks about in the poem? What do you think about breastfeeding in public?

  • Girls’ Worries vs Boys’ Worries
    Talk about some of the things that you worry about in your life. What do you think girls worry about compared to what boys worry about? What are the differences and similarities? Why do you think this is?


    Further information:

Laura Bates appeared at the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival to talk about her new book Girl Up. You can buy the book online or borrow it from your local library. There are also a series of Laura’s online articles available on the Guardian website: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/laura-bates

Other useful websites include:
PSHE Association:  https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/
Sex Education Forum: www.sexeducationforum.org.uk
Sexpression: www.sexpression.org.uk

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