Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing here in Ireland, but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity, and this season is no exception. 

 

When the cast was announced a few weeks ago, the array of toned and buff bods did not come as a shock to most of us but was somewhat of a disappointment. This is not the first time that ITV has been criticised for the lack of body diversity of the contestants. In fact, the creative director of ITV Studios Entertainment Richard Cowles responded to similar complaints last year by saying, “Yes we want to be as representative as possible but we also want [the contestants] to be attracted to one another.” He also said that the cast was “a group of people we want to watch for eight weeks.” By insinuating that viewers would not want to watch different body types on their screens, Cowles and ITV are perpetuating the idea that there is only one acceptable body type, and that anything outside of that is both unacceptable and unattractive.

 

 

This season, in spite of the lack of body diversity, certain contestants have still been the butt of a joke due to their physical appearance. While body image is something we usually consider a women’s issue, in the Love Island villa it would appear that men suffer scrutiny as much, if not more so, than women. 

 

In the first episode, after the girls have introduced themselves and are enjoying a glass of champagne, they chat about what their “type” is. One thing the girls can all agree on is that they prefer a tall “manly man”. As the show has progressed, we have seen Nas suffer as a result of his height. His original partner, Siannise complained that he was too short and his height was the subject of ridicule in a game the islanders played on Sunday the 19th’s episode. In a game where islanders had to guess the answer to questions about their partners, Jess had to guess Nas’s greatest fear. Her answer, “heights,” was an obvious source of laughter. Being a good sport, he has taken the teasing on the chin. However, as viewers we cannot help but think, ‘if a woman got this much flak for her physical appearance, would we be more outraged?’ 

 

 

ITV has also been accused of lack of representation when it comes to race. The cast has undoubtedly become more racially diverse as the seasons have gone on, but this has allowed for latent racial prejudices to be played out on our screens. The producers have been accused of giving black women very little air time, an issue that was pointed out in the cases of both Samira from the 2018 cast and Yewande from last year’s cast. The absence of Yewande from our screens became so blatant last year that it prompted the use of the Twitter hashtag #whereisyewande. A similar case could also be made for this season’s Leanne. While her partner Mike seems to be one of the cast’s principal characters, Leanne is fading into the background. Fans may defend the show by saying that perhaps these contestants’ storylines just aren’t as interesting, but others would argue that there is a pattern emerging. 

 

 

There is also a strong argument for the problem of the fetishization of contestants of colour and of mixed race in the show. This first came to light in the 2018 series, when both Georgia Steel and Ellie Brown said their type was “mixed race.” This resulted in frustration and it was explained that claiming to be attracted to mixed race people is incredibly reductive as it assumes that all mixed race people look alike – an assumption that could not be more wrong. In this season the comparisons between Asian contestant Nas and Disney’s Aladdin have provoked some backlash. Perhaps this is only the case because his first partner, Siannise, compared herself to Jasmine. In any case, the debate surrounding the ways we view the contestants (and of course how they view each other) according to their appearance continues. 

 

The most glaringly obvious way in which Love Island has missed the memo in terms of representation is in its extremely heteronormative format. The entire concept of the show is based on heterosexuality. The idea is akin to a glamorous Lisdoonvarna – a group of attractive twenty-somethings lounging around a villa in swimwear figuring out who they fancy the most, that person being of the opposite sex of course. The only departure from this heteronormative format was in 2016, when two bisexual women had a brief fling. Writing for the Guardian, Fay Schopen has argued that if Love Island is supposed to be reality TV, surely it should reflect reality more accurately. 

 

 

This sentiment can be applied to the show in general. The appeal of Love Island lies in the gritty moments of authenticity. As members of the audience, we love to see our own dating woes played out before our eyes. We relish the moments of pure love and mourn the moments of pure heartbreak. The fact that the cast members are presented to us as real, normal people allows us to share in their joy and their anguish in a way we can’t with scripted television. 

 

The body type, race and sexuality of the islanders do not (or at least should not) impact our connection with them, and Love Island producers are greatly underestimating their viewership if they believe that to be the case. 

 

 

Photo by ITV 

 

 

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

 

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of the youth across the world. Political autonomy, corruption, powerlessness, poor economies, climate change and social media seem to be the chief contributors to the mass protest rage that has taken over. The large anti-government demonstrations have not been peaceful, with the number of human losses increasing as every day goes by. From Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan and more, the story seems to be the same: voices that were never heard are gathering together for a scream to bring about a much-needed change! Does it mean the people’s voice will finally be heard?

In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Iran.

 

The Begining of a Long Road

Economic hardships ignited the dimming spark that led to violent clashes between protesters and security forces. The days following November 15, 2019, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with an abrupt political decision. A 50 percent increase in fuel prices, came without warning. This apparently, came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the country faced a deficit which amounted to two-thirds of the yearly $45 billion budget. 

Although the protests started off as peaceful demonstrations, soon it took a violent turn leaving about 180 people dead. Security forces open fire on unarmed protests who were largely either unemployed or low-income young men aged between 19-26.

These protests revealed the frustration among the citizens against their leaders. Although petrol remains cheaper in Iran – home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves – average incomes are too low to comfortably absorb the steep hike. The serious economic challenges faced by Iran are partially due to Trump administration’s sanctions on the country. The sanctions were levied to pressure Iran into renegotiating the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and major world powers which President Trump abandoned. According to Bourse & Bazaar, More than 1.6 million Iranians have fallen into poverty since the American sanctions were imposed. 

In relation to the protests, Trump tweeted, The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration, and always will!” The encouragement of the protests and expressions of satisfaction by the American administration only show that they may be campaigning for the fall of the Iranian regime in the guise of the claims that the aim of the administration was to  “change the behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” as quoted by Mike Pompeo.

The most unsettling differences from past demonstrations to the 2019 protests were the blanket of silence that fell over the country with an internet shutdown. Although, Iran was able to keep vital infrastructures running like hospitals and banks, they completely denied access to the only two global internet portals in Iran owned by the government. The regime has a stark choice between funding its proxies abroad and its nuclear program or addressing its people’s dire economic needs. If the regime chooses poorly then it will continue to provoke the kind of rage that was witnessed in the 2019 protests.

 

 

The US Intervenes

The protests in Iran have now taken an interesting turn with protesters protesting against the US intervention as well as continuing their demands for the fall of the Iranian regime. On January 3 of this year, US President Trump said that he ordered a precision strike to “terminate” a top Iranian commander who was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans, adding that this decision was one of deterrence and not aggression. A US drone strike on a Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani on Trump’s order. Iran, in a letter to the United Nations, called the attack state terrorism and an unlawful criminal act. Iran’s ambassador to the UN told CNN that the attack was an opening to a war. He said Washington has escalated a war it began by pulling out of the nuclear deal with Tehran. Thousands of demonstrators were seen marching in Tehran and other cities to protest the strike after Friday prayers. Men, women and children carried images of the slain commander, many crying and others shaking their fists, shouting “Death to America” and “Revenge, revenge, revenge.” 

 

Ukranian Passenger Plane Crash

For a third reason in a matter of weeks, Iran witnessed a further series of protests after the government admitted it had mistakenly downed a Ukranian passenger jet that killed 176 passengers. Some of the video posted on social media showed some chanting “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here” as other footage captures riot police clashing with the protesters and responding with tear gas. After a U-turn by the Iranian government that had initially rejected reports of the downed plane, a judicial spokesperson, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said at a news conference that an undisclosed number of people had been arrested in connection with the crash.

January 11, 2020, witnessed large crowds of students who demonstrated outside Amir Kabir University for a candlelight vigil. Demonstrating outrage at the shooting down of the aircraft, they chanted “death to the dictator” and “resignation is not enough, a trial is needed!”

However, the students summed up the general feeling surrounding recent protests in the country when they also stated that “today, we are surrounded by evil on all sides.” 

Tehran has announced that it would stop abiding by limits on uranium enrichment which had initially been agreed upon in return for the relaxation of the sanctions. The US, as a result, has pressed ahead with further sanctions against Iran. 

 

Photo by Mojnews 

 

 

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The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Iran.

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. In this article in our Brexit series, Rachel gives us an update on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan has been under autocracy since it first began to be taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, throughout its years as part of the Soviet Union, and since its independence in 1991. After all that time, could it be possible that the country is heading towards future democracy?

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon.

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted a banking license by the European Central Bank. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived by working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth.

Weinstein New York Trial Begins

Weinstein New York Trial Begins

“We didn’t have our day but hopefully they will,” actor Rose McGowan told the crowd of Silence Breakers joining her in protest outside the courthouse on Monday 6th January 2020. “And we join hands with them. Their victory will be our victory. Their loss will be our loss.”

 

The New York trial of former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein commenced in the past week and is estimated to last two months. The disgraced director-producer is charged with five sex crime charges. These stem from production assistant Mimi Haleyi’s allegations of forced oral sex in 2006; and by an unnamed woman who accused him of raping her in a hotel room in 2013. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sexual encounters. If convicted of these acts, including predatory sexual assault, he will likely face the rest of his life behind bars.

 

Currently, Weinstein remains on bail, although last Tuesday Judge James Burke threatened to revoke his bail over use of a cell phone in court. Defence lawyers have protested Weinstein is not receiving a fair and impartial hearing and filed a motion for the judge to recuse himself. The lawyers have also suggested “inflammatory” and “prejudicial” comments by Burke regarding imprisonment prematurely dictate that Weinstein is guilty. They have attempted to bar Gloria Allred, a high-profile lawyer representing three of the women expected to testify against Weinstein in the trial, on the basis they might wish to call her as a witness. Burke denied the request to interfere with her role. 

 

On Wednesday, 90 of the 120 potential jurors summoned were dismissed for impartiality, following a questionnaire on previous history with domestic violence and physical or sexual assault. Model Gigi Hadid was also dismissed from duty following the defence’s outrage at the media storm surrounding the high-profile case. Seven men and five women have now been selected.

 

During the trial, several witnesses are expected to take the stand including Charlize Theron and Sopranos star Annabella Sciorra. Sciorra has accused Weinstein of violently raping her in her New York apartment in the early 1990s. Though her testimony has been deemed too old for a separate rape charge, prosecutors hope it will cement that Weinstein had a history of sexual misconduct. 

 

Indeed, since 2017, over 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan. The 30 plus women who accused Weinstein of sexual harassment in a previous civil case also recently secured a 25 million dollar settlement (covered by Weinstein Company’s insurance); Weinstein is not required to admit his wrongdoing under this settlement. 

 

Hours after his criminal trial started in New York, Los Angeles prosecutors also announced new charges of alleged sexual assault (including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force) against two women in 2013. 

 

Despite Weinstein’s infamy and lack of public support, a conviction for Weinstein is not guaranteed. The second anonymous accuser appears to have had a long relationship with Weinstein which continued after he allegedly raped her in 2013. Her email from February 2017 stated “I love you, always do. But hate feeling like a booty call :)”; the defence will likely focus on this at trial. 

 

Often these types of allegations have no consequences, or they result in a quick flurry of media coverage before vanishing from the public eye almost immediately. However, with over 80 statements made against Weinstein, and due to the high-profile nature of this case, it’s reasonable to believe Weinstein will never work in film again. In this regard, Weinstein has expressed fury and entitlement. He claims he has been a champion of women, giving them opportunities before it was “vogue”, and is enraged that the allegations will leave him “forgotten” in movie history. 

 

Weinstein abused his power to prey on women in the industry and unsurprisingly, ignorance and misogyny are commonplace in the dialogue surrounding the trial. Fox News describes “extreme feminists” ruining civilization, while Weinstein’s current counsel (female) suggests that “women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date”.

 

This criminal trial is arguably the first high-profile case of the #MeToo era – and the results have the potential to set the tone for the future. But, regardless of the results, the impacts of Weinstein’s actions have already had significant consequences, including triggering the MeToo and TimesUp movements. This has paved the way for women across diverse industries to come forward with their own stories of sexual abuse and harrassment and is (despite not-insignificant backlash) shifting the global dialogue and forcing a change in sexual harassment policies and tolerances in workplaces and throughout wider society. 

Harvey Weinstein’s trial continues this week with opening statements commencing on January 22nd

 

 

Photo by Dennis

 

 

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The 6th of January: Women’s Christmas

The tradition of celebrating Nollaig na mBan is particularly associated with the West of Ireland and it seems to have originated as a reward for all of the hard work by women of doing the cooking, cleaning and organising of Christmas festivities.

STAND Women: 2019 in Review

Women make up roughly 50% of our global population but still face significant human rights challenges, including some which are less visible but equally damaging such as gender bias in institutions like the media. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

The Prevalence of “Lad Culture” and Toxic Attitudes in Ireland

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

FemFest 2019: Women’s inequality should come with a mental health warning

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on Saturday, November 30th in Dublin’s City Centre. Women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five were invited to freely participate and unite in various workshops, panel discussions and listen to guest speakers. The event succeeded in empowering the future voices of our society, to continue pushing to implement change across all fields of adversity.

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

It’s hard to believe that Naomi Klein has been chronicling the exploitation of people and our planet for over 20 years. As a 24-year-old, her voice emerged around the same time I was born, but I have only discovered her genius in recent months. The author of No Logo, This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine among many others has gathered writings and key speeches from the last decade for her latest work emphasising the imperativeness of the Green New Deal. The urgency of her work has only increased with the steady stream of heartbreaking environmental statistics leaking through the cracks of our social media feeds.

 

On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal takes place from numerous vantage points; the Vatican under Pope Francis’ “ecological conversion”, measuring environmental damages from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, choking on smoke from wildfires in British Columbia, Vancouver and witnessing the die-off in the Great Barrier Reef. Her voice is as accessible as ever while she dissects the scientific and economic jargon for her whole audience to grasp, simultaneously injecting empathy and passion in her fight to hold corporations and fossil fuel companies accountable for the endless hurt they’ve caused.

 

Klein examines the worrying resurgence of narratives regarding the right of supposedly superior white colonisers to inflict violence on those they classify as beneath them in the hierarchy of humans. Her consistent elevation of Indigenous voices is a priority for the climate justice movement, as minorities are the most vulnerable people with the lowest carbon footprint but bear the brunt of climate breakdown’s disastrous effects. From dozens of Indigenous tribes in the Amazon facing prejudice and stripped of land rights under President Bolsonaro and Justin Trudeau’s use of First Nations land for tar sands pipelines to the storms ravaging Puerto Rico and droughts in Africa and East Asia; Klein uses her platform to highlight how horrifically unfair the ecological destruction of our planet is. 

 

Using a rake of data, historical sources and referencing studies, research and interviews, the activist disproves claims that climate change is simply a result of “flawed human behaviour”. The greed of a small but elite group of neoliberal capitalists and 100 corporate fossil fuel companies saw the natural wealth of stolen lands as something to dominate and use up. The idea that the earth’s resources are boundless are reminiscent of capitalism’s grab and pull behaviour, the consistent consumption habits of the planet’s richest inhabitants to the detriment of the systematically unheard. Black and brown lives are being betrayed, while Western, wealthy countries build higher and higher walls.
 

The Canadian author tries to maintain a pragmatic and optimistic tone throughout the novel while making sure to put political leaders blocking climate action on blast. The opening chapter makes sure to reference the shining light of Greta Thunberg, declaring that young people are “cracking open the heart of the climate crisis”. Democratic eco-socialism is the backbone of the Green New Deal resolution, put forward by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. By the final chapters of Klein’s book, it’s impossible to deny that this plan is the only way forward, which is why she endorses Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination in 2020.  

The Green New Deal has its roots in Indigenous communities and tribes who have a compassionate and respectful relationship to the land, rather than seeing it as something worth draining of all life for the profit of a small few. It makes sure to illustrate that the economic strain of the plan should not be on the poorest people in our society. The plan works to eliminate the racial wealth gap and gender wealth gap while guaranteeing job security, free education, free healthcare, funded art projects and protection of wildlife and nature reserves, transport and childcare as well as 100% renewable energy. 

 

The vicious cycle of placing certain lives above ‘the Other’ has led to a dehumanising effect, with the rise of far-right, authoritarian movements globally and a shutdown of freedom of movement being called for in post-Brexit UK. The irony of anti-immigration sentiment rings hollow, Klein writes, once it dawns on them that Britain invented the coal-burning steam engine and has been burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale longer than any nation on earth. Their anger at the thought of paying for flood defences abroad while ignoring their role in climate-related weather storms in the Global South is peak white privilege.  

 

The writer stresses that the core crises of fake news, election tampering, data harvesting, violent wars over resources, racism, massive wealth inequality, white supremacy, poverty and sexual violence are all interconnected and must be tackled head-on as a collective social mass movement. The Green New Deal has strong plans in place in terms of financing the plan, simply by treating the crisis like the emergency it is; cutting military spending, shutting down tax havens and taxing the billionaires 1%. Funnel the funds back into the public sphere, decentralise power into local communities, keep carbon in the ground, raise the voices of those who were tramped on in society, and there you have it: democratic eco-socialism. Lifestyle changes, of course, are included. Mainly so that disposable income from our green job salary doesn’t go towards “buying crap from China that will inevitably end up in landfill”, as the author eloquently puts. The paradigm of equating personal prosperity with quality of life leads to wealth hoarding, and can’t possibly fulfil us.

 

“Climate change acts as an accelerant to many of our social ills (inequality, wars, racism, sexual violence) but it can also be an accelerant for the opposite, for the forces working for economic and social justice against militarism,” Klein says, instilling a sense of purpose within the reader. “It is not the job of a transformative social movement to reassure members of a panicked, megalomaniacal elite that they are still masters of the universe, nor is it necessary.” We must abandon the extractive, consumerist mindset and repair our relationship with each other as well as with the planet, the era of endless expansion is over.

 

With her usual elegance, humility and logic, Naomi Klein has gifted us with the tools to unite the movement once again and makes sure to assure us that we’re not alone. The issue demands us to act on a scale that humanity has never accomplished before. As Ursula K. Le Guin once said, “We live in capitalism, it’s power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.” Capitalism is not some stoic system that is built into our DNA with no alternative. Human empathy can still triumph, despite the men in the White House, 10 Downing Street and the Kremlin. We could cause the sixth great mass extinction event in Earth’s history, or we could create a prosperous civilisation: it’s our choice.

 

 

Photo by Joe Mabel

 

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

Naomi Klein is as accessible as ever as she dissects the scientific and economic jargon of climate change, while simultaneously injecting empathy and passion in her fight to hold corporations and fossil fuel companies accountable. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, has the possibility to unite the movement once again and inspire action on a scale that humanity has never accomplished before.

Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017. The publication of the first piece on Weinstein led to an influx of messages into Kantor and Twohey’s inboxes from women who had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. In She Said, they explain the process behind their investigative journalism.

Review: Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ is a Mob Drama of Epic Proportions

Scorsese’s latest $150 million passion project details the life of the mob hitman Frank Sheeran, and his involvement with the Bufalino crime family as well as the disappearance of the union leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

Short shorts film festival 2019 in Dublin – What to remember

Earlier this month, the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) screened some of the best short films produced all over Europe, as part of the Short Shorts film festival. Screenings were hosted by language schools and embassies across Dublin.

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. If you’re new to Rachel Husson’s Brexit series, no worries, here are the basics, the EU’s perspective, a view of the craziest week of 2019, what Brexit means for Ireland, and what it means for students. Also, don’t forget to test your Brexit knowledge by taking our quiz!

 

What has happened over the last couple of months? 

Since the last time you read the series, some events worth mentioning took place in the Brexit saga. After the European Council agreed in late October on an extension of Brexit’s due date, an early general election was granted by the British parliament (438 votes in favour, 20 against). This election occurred on the 12th of December and the results set several strong statements. First, the Conservative Party, led by Boris Johnson, won a comfortable majority of 364 seats of a total 650 (against 203 seats for the Labour Party, and 13 for Lib-Dem Party). Therefore, it seems that the 2016 referendum’s results were not a “mistake” after all. The second statement was made by Scottish electors. Out of the 59 seats in Parliament granted to Scottish constituencies, 48 were swiped by the Scottish National Party (SNP) – who campaign for Scottish independence within the European Union.

Five days before Christmas day, Johnson’s EU Withdrawl Agreement Bill was presented (again) to the House of Commons, which passed after two readings. From there, the Agreement had to be transposed in British law. A “transposition” bill was drafted and passed the Commons on the 9th of January by 330 votes against 231 and the UK is now expected to finally meet the latest Brexit deadline.

 

What’s next?

The text of the Withdrawal Agreement is now in the hands of the House of Lords, where the Government has no majority. So, this should be interesting. If the bill gets the Lord’s approval, then the Queen will have to give her royal consent. Normally, this should just be a formality. But we have to keep in mind that the European Parliament also has to vote the deal before Brexit can officially happen. If everything goes on track, Brexit will happen on the 31st January.  For 11 months, the UK will still follow all the EU’s rules and regulations, it will remain in the single market and the customs union and the free movement of people will continue. The challenge for the UK will be to get all its new rules and policies in place by the end of this year.

The UK and the EU will enter a new phase of negotiations about their new relationship. The stake is huge because they’ll have to agree on a “partnership” for future decades. Let’s be honest, 11 months (until the 31st of December precisely) to deal with that kind of negotiations is really short. Look how long it took them to reach the leaving deal. Of course, Johnson doesn’t want any delay. But you know it, loyal reader, the British PM has said that before, and look where we are – the initial exit date back in Halloween seems like ages ago. However, this time Johnson is so committed that his promise was enshrined in the bill passed on the 9th. No extension should there be. He has said that he’d rather have part of a deal than ask for a delay. So, you get it correctly, a no-deal Brexit is still a possibility. 

Knowing that, Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, said that the period of time they have is “very very tight”, not long enough to cover every topic, so they will have to prioritise. The Prime Minister of Croatia, which currently has the presidency of the Council of the European Union for 6 months, agreed and wish to work first on trade and fishing. 

Nevertheless, prioritizing doesn’t mean compromising. On one hand, the EU recalled on several occasions that it will not consent to anything that would damage its own integrity, common market or customs union. On the other hand, Johnson expressed that he wouldn’t allow any kind of alignment on the EU’s regulation nor would he accept staying in some way under the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. The British PM wants to “maintain control of UK fishing waters and [its] immigration system”.

 

 

Review on Scotland and Northern Ireland

The call for a second referendum on Scottish independence made by Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish PM and leader of the SNP, was formally rejected by Johnson who sees a second vote as a “political stagnation” that would impact Scotland “because of a campaign to separate the UK”. “It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country”, he added. The PM claims that by refusing he respects Scots’ democratic decision: the 2014 referendum was promised to be a “once in a lifetime” occasion and set Scotland to remain in the UK. But one could argue that the situation has changed since 2014. It seems understandable that Brexit made a difference… According to the SNP, the Conservatives are afraid of the results if the vote took place in the pro-Europe nation. The full answer of the Scottish Government is expected to arrive by the end of January. Stay tuned… 

With the New Year came great news for Northern Ireland: a new executive is in place after three years of talks. Called “New Decade, New Approach”, the 62-page deal was published by both British and Irish Governments and set out guidelines and commitments for the new executive. This agreement comes after Northern Ireland was really divided on the December UK general election: 8 seats in Westminster for Unionists (DUP) and 9 for Nationalists (7 for Sinn Fein which practice abstentionism, meaning they refuse to sit in London, and 2 for the SDLP). Would Northern Ireland be inspired by Scotland? It’s not that easy, mainly because it’s not the same situation. Scotland wants its independence, when in the North the idea would be about changing the Parliament they answer to, talking about “Irish unity”. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, for such a vote to be called, the initiative must come for the British Secretary of State when they think the majority of the Northern Irish population would support Irish unity. One may argue that some elements point to that. If Northern Ireland’s choice was to leave the UK, then the Irish Republic would have to vote on that Irish unity too. Surveys have shown than 51% of the Irish population is in favour of this unity. Short advance, especially when you think of the margin of error. It appears clear that the whole island is deeply split on the matter… The post-Brexit daily life and the future deal may help some islanders to fold one way or another. 

 

It seems to me that the UK’s History might be made in the next few years…

 

 

Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer

 

 

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The Leaderless Protest Series – Iran

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Iran.

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

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NewB: a bank to inspire others

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Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

Two New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story in October 2017. The publication of the first Weinstein story led to an influx of messages into Kantor and Twohey’s inboxes from women who had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. Their journalism had inspired a societal shift.  In She Said, they explain the process behind their investigative journalism. 

Weinstein, currently in court for the alleged rape and predatory sexual assault of two unnamed women, has over 80 allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Written in the third person, She Said follows Kantor and Twohey from the beginning to the end of their investigation against Weinstein. It includes interview transcripts, emails and texts- making the reader feel like they are almost witnessing the investigation first-hand. The reader gains an understanding of the collaborative process between Kantor and Twohey, who weren’t well acquainted prior to the investigation.

The first person interviewed by Kantor was actor Rose McGowan in May 2017, who had previously tweeted about sexual allegations against an unnamed Hollywood producer. “If white men could have a playground, this [Hollywood] would be it,” she said on the phone to Kantor. Weinstein paid McGowan a $100,000 settlement, which she donated to a rape crisis centre. Kantor knew that this settlement could be traced. Of course, finding other women who had similar experiences of Weinstein would make their case much stronger.

She Said gives an excellent insight into the process of investigative journalism and the huge amount of work and verification it requires. What do you say to someone in the first few seconds of a call in order for them to feel safe enough to tell their story? How do you get people to go on record? How do you prove the information you’ve gathered is correct? The journalists stressed that they always gave Weinstein and his team adequate time to respond to claims before publishing each article.

Kantor and Twohey describe how Weinstein and his team arrived at the New York Times building unannounced and the uncomfortable yet necessary reality of door-stepping potential sources.

Weinstein’s abuse was not limited to stars like McGowan, Ashley Judd and Gweneth Paltrow, but also to ordinary women, some of whose stories are given a platform in the book. Kantor and Twohey found that settlements from Weinstein to cover up the abuse he committed was all too common.

Following a theme of uncovering sexual harassment and sexual abuse by recent widely known persons, She Said also has a chapter discussing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court judge in the United States.

She Said highlights the importance of journalism and holding truth to power, particularly in a time where the integrity of the profession is called into question.

 

Photo by Pexels

 

 

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

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Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

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Short shorts film festival 2019 in Dublin – What to remember

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