King’s Women in Law: Feminist Legal Theory Event

On November 16 2017, the King’s Women in Law society (KWIL) held their first academic event, titled ‘Is the Law Sexist? Feminist Legal Theory 101’.

This event involved presentations by various speakers, followed by an interactive Q&A session. Firstly, Dr. Leslie Taylor focused on the need to look beyond legislation to understand the position of women within Property Law; it is imperative to analyse case law and reflect upon the attitudes of the judiciary. Secondly, Dr. Emily Barritt introduced the concept of Ecofeminism, through drawing similarities between the exploitation of women and of the environment, and encouraged approaching environmental problems in a more discerning manner. Finally, Professor Davina Cooper discussed the need for a legal gender. This involved considering the growing recognition of other gender identities, the basis of criteria selection and equality arguments. The Q&A session led to examination of recurring themes running through the different aspects of law addressed by the speakers, including the role of Parliament and the judiciary in the context of changing social attitudes.

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From this event, students were encouraged to appreciate different views and to critically reflect upon the law with a feminist lens. It is hoped that this event encouraged attendees to recognise the increasing importance of feminism in today’s society and to continue contributing to the ongoing discussion on the topic.

Following the event, a drinks reception was held at Somerset House to allow for further discussion with the speakers, fellow attendees and the KWIL committee.

KWIL is thankful to the engaging speakers and to all attendees. For more information on KWIL, head to the KWIL webpage.

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Anti-Bullying Week

Words by Ioanna Bagia, Harassment & Bullying Representative for The Dickson Poon School of Law.

Unfortunately there is currently no legal definition of bullying in the law of England and Wales. Quite apart from the law, bullying is a term that can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or simply not recognised as important. It is important to understand what bullying is, who the actors in bullying are and how those bullied can be affected.

What is a bully? According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a bully is: A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. While there are numerous other respected definitions, the aforementioned one captures the essence of what bullying is. An act of bullying usually consists of a person or group of people that exert pressure on an individual or group with the purpose of belittling, ridiculing and/or humiliating them. There absolutely is no one typical act of bullying, however, the traits highlighted above are common features.

It is important to clarify that bullying is a diverse phenomenon, in order to be able to dismantle the illusion that bullying is simply an infantile behaviour exclusive to the school playground. Bullying can, and does, follow some people throughout their lives. It takes place in a variety of contexts, including: the school and work environments as well as on the internet and social media. Most importantly, it is not uncommon for a bully to attack their victim on integral parts of the victim’s identity, such as: sex, ethnic and cultural origin, sexual and gender orientation, socio-economic background, family status, illness and disability. Bullying can be intentional, systemic and malicious and is certainly not a phenomenon confined to certain ages, particular people, areas of life or relationships.

Who takes part in bullying? There are 3 main actors, the: bully or bullies, victim or victims and bystander or bystanders. While bullies and victims are the main actors, bystanders are part of the act, whose failure to act to stop or prevent such bullying can be a form of consent to the act.

Finally, why care about bullying? 80% of young people who completed suicide did so because of peer victimization and bullying, according to NOBullying.com. 77% of students describe themselves as being victims of bullying according to BullyingStatistics.org and 75% of employees have been affected by workplace bullying, according to Forbes. Bullying genuinely can affect anyone and everyone, both in their public and private lives with impacts which can be as serious as contemplating suicide.

In conclusion, although it ranges in seriousness, bullying always involves bullies recognising and abusing their positions of power and influence over others. Many, if not most, people have been part of a bullying act either in the position of the bully, the bystander or the victim. It can and does affect everyone in some way, and therefore should not be disregarded as an issue no longer relevant or requiring significant attention.

Find out more about Anti-Bullying Week and the work being done at King’s by the King’s Wellbeing team.