Anorak News | #NUSWomen15: jazz hands are the new clapping and other beyond parody motions

#NUSWomen15: jazz hands are the new clapping and other beyond parody motions

by | 24th, March 2015

nus women


#NUSWomen15: Putting Policy into Action. So runs the slogan for the National Union of Students get together:

This year, on March 24 until the 26, hundreds of women will be descending upon Solihull for the best three days of the year: Women’s Conference.

Alongside debates on sex work (it should decriminalised) and money, motions to be debated include:

Motion 101: Putting pronouns on the cards
Submitted by: NUS LGBT Committee
Conference Believes:
1. Pronouns are used in the English language to replace nouns in order to make conversation easier. An example of the use of a pronoun is when referring to somebody instead of using their name.
2. The current delegate name badges at all NUS conferences and events simply state the delegate’s name, their constituent membership and if they attend an HE or an FE institution.
3. Delegates who use gender neutral pronouns currently have to write this on their badges themselves to ensure other delegates use their correct preferred pronouns.

Conference Further Believes:
1. Delegates currently having to manually write their pronouns on their badges may make them feel uncomfortable, othered, or outed as trans* (despite the safe space policy).
2. NUS Women’s Campaign is open to all who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who experience oppression as women. The campaign affirms that self-definition of gender identity and pronouns are at the sole discretion of the individual in question.
3. Delegates to NUS Women’s conference may use pronouns that are not she/her, and encouraging all delegates to specify their pronouns will foster a culture of not assuming pronouns based on gender presentation and help ensure that everyone’s preferred gender pronouns are upheld.
4. All delegates specifying their pronouns and asking each other for pronouns may help to ensure that delegates are not misgendered, as this can make delegates feel unsafe or trigger gender dysphoria.
Conference Resolves:
1. To ask all delegates attending NUS conferences and events for their pronouns at the point of registration (this would be a blank box which text could be typed into).
2. To print pronouns on all delegate’s badges.
3. To continue to reiterate when establishing the safe space policy that all delegates should respect and uphold each other’s pronouns.

This is all true. And it goes on. You can read the motions in full here, but we’ll pick out a few to discuss amongst yourselves:

Motion 205: Research sexism in educational environments
Submitted by: University of Bristol Union

There is a false assumption that with the access of women into Higher Education and with the majority of students being women that the classrooms or labs are not spaces where sexism is felt. Women are always asked to justify their claims of feeling uncomfortable or to ‘prove’ that a space is hostile. It is widely assumed that learning spaces can no longer be male dominated and that women can’t feel excluded given that they might outnumber men in the room. However we still hear things like ‘you are good at logic for a girl’, ‘your handwriting is nice’ said by a male lab demonstrator…


September 2011: Students at Hautes Etudes Commerciales, a Montreal business school, were filmed “wearing black makeup [and] chant[ing] with mock Jamaican accents about smoking marijuana” as part of a skit (source). A student explained that it was part of a skit in honor of Jamacian Olympian Usain Bolt.

September 2011: Students at Hautes Etudes Commerciales, a Montreal business school, were filmed “wearing black makeup [and] chant[ing] with mock Jamaican accents about smoking marijuana” as part of a skit (source). A student explained that it was part of a skit in honor of Jamacian Olympian Usain Bolt.


Motion 407: Zero-tolerance for prejudice in our Unions and NUS
Submitted by: Birkbeck Students’ Union
Conference believes:
1. Trans people are routinely pilloried in the media, and in popular culture generally…

Conference Resolves:
1. To issue a statement condemning the use of ‘cross-dressing’ as a mode of fancy dress.
2. To amend the NUS Zero Tolerance Statement policy to cover all NUS events and conferences; and to encourage Unions to ban clubs and societies from holding events which permit or encourage (cisgender) members to use ‘cross-dressing’ as a mode of fancy dress.


Australian cover for 1978's Sound of Edna LP -

Australian cover for 1978’s Sound of Edna LP –

Motion 501: End Transphobia, Biphobia and Islamophobia on Campus
Trigger warning: Transphobia, biphobia, and Islamophobia
Conference Believes:
1. NUS Women’s Campaign has a duty to protect and promote the rights of those who self-define as part of the NUS Women’s Campaign within NUS, on campus at University or college and in wider society.
2. All students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to a safe environment at their University or College campus where they can learn, develop as an individual, and achieve their full potential. This safe space must include an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and prejudice including but not limited to: homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism, ableism,
xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism

4. NUS Liberation Campaigns have previously passed ‘No Platform’ Policies in order to protect students from individuals who preach prejudice and discrimination based on an individual’s identity, and who incite hatred against an individual based upon their identity or beliefs.
5. The NUS LGBT Campaign and the NUS Women’s Campaign have previously passed policy refusing to share a platform with Julie Bindel, a journalist and author who is notorious for her transphobic publications and views, and other individuals who hold transphobic views.
Conference Further Believes:
1. Julie Bindel is renowned for her transphobic viewpoints, which first came to light in her article Gender Benders, Beware (2004). Bindel has apologised for the ‘tone’ of this article, but has not renounced further writings which argue that trans people should be denied medical care. Moreover, she has spoken at events such as Femifest 2014 that explicitly exclude trans people…

1. That the NUS Women’s’ Officers and members of the NUS Women’s committee shall not share a platform with Julie Bindel.




Motion 502: Black Women and Lad Culture
Submitted by: NUS LGBT Committee
Conference Believes:
1. NUS released the report entitled “That’s what she said: Women students’ experiences of ‘lad culture’ in higher education” in March 2013. In the research, many women students cited lad culture as a prevalent problem that had a negative impact on their student experience.

Conference Further Believes:
1. NUS Women’s campaign currently has intersectionality at its core: the academic theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw that states that individuals may experience multiple forms of oppression. Intersectionality is concerned with how these forms of oppression may interact with one another and affect the individual, and how the individual may be liberated from their oppression.
2. Black women experience lad culture in a different way due to their intersectional identities: they experience sexism and misogyny as well as racism. As such, lad culture has a very specific but different impact on Black women.
3. Lad culture often manifests as racism in addition to sexism, with university sports teams appropriating cultures or blacking up, for example.


Page 3


Motion 503: Dear White Gay Men: Stop Appropriating Black Women
Submitted by: NUS LGBT Committee
Conference Believes:
1. The appropriation of Black women by white gay men is prevalent within the LGBT scene and community.
2. This may be manifested in the emulation of the mannerisms, language (particularly AAVE- African American Vernacular English) and phrases that can be attributed to Black women. White gay men may often assert that they are “strong black women” or have an “inner black woman”.
3. White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege…

Conference Further Believes:
1. This type of appropriation is unacceptable and must be addressed.
2. Low numbers of Black LGBT women delegates attend NUS LGBT conference. This can be attributed to many factors, one of which may be the prevalent appropriation by white gay men, which may mean that delegates do not feel comfortable or safe attending conference.
Conference Resolves:
1. To work to eradicate the appropriation of black women by white gay men.
2. To work in conjunction with NUS LGBT campaign to raise awareness of the issue, to call it out as unacceptable behaviour and, where appropriate, to educate those who perpetuate this behaviour.

It’s a debate about shutting down debate and creating conformity.

Posted: 24th, March 2015 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink