Sunday, 26 July 2009

Objectification and Violence- NUS priority campaign

NUS Women's Committee have voted to make Objectification this years priority campaign. By challenging the objectification of the female body in student union culture, through events such as 'fittest fresher', nudy calenders, pole dancing societies and of course beauty pageants, the women's committee seek to challenge sexism at its source.

Research will be commissioned into objectification and violence against women in student communities to make the links and expose them. Campaigns will address the above events, continuing efforts against Miss University of London and NUSSLs sexist advertising, and a new motion being passed against Miss Student in which contestants are sent on 'missions' to recruit other students and promote the event in the media as part of their qualification.

As our network at Mind the Gap was brought together in campaigns against objectification, I see this as immensely progressive. By centering on how women perceived themselves and are perceived in unions, representation of women and women's rights issues will be examined, in an effort to improve campaign inclusivity. There is scope to have focus groups on marginalised bodies- BME, LB, Trans and disabled- how these bodies are objectified as means to examine the specific discrimination they face.

A second priority will be on using last years research on Student Parents to campaign for its recommendations. I would like to see the recommendations about pregnant women extended to fight for provision for women undergoing abortions so that they can receive support and continue their studies.

After the first days training held at the Women's library we joined Object on the Feminist Friday action in the post below, starting the year with activism, which will be continued and extended exponentially through 'Sister ACTivist' training days countrywide (NUS are supporting our activist training day on the 12th). I really am positively jubilant to see the committee, encouraged by National Officer Liv Bailey who has spoken at several of Mind the Gap' actions, taking political leadership in proud feminist action from this early stage and keeping it firm on the agenda.

By focusing on the body, and the diversity of the bodies, may we reclaim our bodies from the corporate patriarchy that seeks to divide us and curtail our freedoms, and then has the cheek to charge us for this 'service'. In the fashion, beauty, sex industries, privatisation of nurseries and education (and the obvious pay gap and constant threats to reproductive rights) the female body in further shackled by gender discriminatory poverty, with the market and public services polarised against us.

In reclaiming our bodies may we empower and enliven them; use them to extend our freedoms, by standing at our podiums and on our picket lines and demanding rights, autonomy and self definition for every woman (body).

**Come to our activist training day Saturday 12th September at SOAS.

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