What’s Happening To Our Girls? The Pornified Conference and ‘Dead End Feminism’

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

This may not be of interest to all QRG readers but I said I would write up some notes on the recent pornified conference in London. I didn’t attend myself but I followed the event and its aftermath quite closely. I also interviewed two people (both women and who remain anonymous) who were there. This is what  I found out:

1) Why did you go to Pornified? What did you do there?

I went to listen to and potentially challenge some of the existing debates going on about sexualisation, and to hear arguments from speakers (academics and activists) that aren’t heard in mainstream media (i.e. those that aren’t anti-porn/radical feminist).   I presented  a paper.

I went to the conference as I am a feminist and gender & sexuality scholar so it spoke directly to my interests.
2) What do you think of the name, Pornified? What does it conjur up for you?

I don’t agree with the term. It suggests a society which is saturated by porn and assumes people necessarily adopt images/representations of porn in their everyday lives. However, the question mark in the title suggested there would be debate of the term at the conference, and there certainly was.

The punctuation for me screams out interrogation, a concept that promises inclusivity and complexity. Admittedly though the icon used suggested a tone of ‘have we gone too far with notions of pornification?’ But then there was such a variety of panels that I went back to my first impression.


3) Which talks/workshops stood out for you? (as good/bad/interesting)

Good – the session on queer and feminist porn – was great. It included a queer reading of a site where couples upload their own videos and talked about desire and domesticity. The onscenity panel about their porn survey was also very good, as was Leonore Tiefer’s talk. I didn’t go to it, but I was very pleased to see there was a session on asexuality as this is something completely absent from sexualisation debates in the media.

All of them were valuable because these are the early days of interdisciplinary academic debate around the issues. On a few occasions I struggled to choose which sessions to go to as I felt spoilt for choice.

4) Was there debate about pro-porn versus anti-porn stances?

Yes. In some sessions there were heated arguments between anti porn feminists, and sex worker rights activists, and also those who view anti-porn perspectives as not engaging with the complexities of the sexualisation debate. Some anti-porn participants said they had felt it wasn’t a ‘safe’ space in which to debate as they considered most conference delegates to disagree with their views.

I am only really in a position to comment on those sessions that I did attend. There was a brief pro V anti debate at the end of one of those. In short, both presenters (the 3rd had cancelled) spoke of young peoples’ interpretations of pornified media including porn. Dare I say it I couldn’t really follow the first presenter’s arguments/conclusions, which may or may not have been because I was distracted by a claim she made re adults’ experiences with porn that were not empirically founded. Anyway, when it came to Q & A a certain group of women in the room wanted to know why nobody was picking up on the ‘harms’ of porn in the discussion. In response to that a co-author of one of the presentations said that the anti-porn, radical feminist critique was unhelpful and Gail Dines swung this around to mean that rad fems were wrongly being accused of being panicksters. I have no idea how she arrived at this conclusion. The atmosphere was tense (despite Meg Barker’s suggestion during the opening workshop that we remain mindful of respectful dialogue in light of how emotive these issues can be) and I was glad it was time for lunch!

After lunch a plenary panel presented their research agenda, which, in short, was to listen to unheard voices in relation to porn consumption.  Personally, I like this idea seeing as porn research to date has been interested in such a narrow participant profile i.e., sex offenders or abuse survivors. As far as I’m concerned this research addresses a gap in the literature. But Gail Dines wanted to know why there were no anti-porn reps on the plenary. Again a tense atmosphere, no room for discussion, my way or the high way.


5) what was the split of men/women/trans or gender queer people speaking or attending the conference?

Mainly women I think.

Well many queer people I am acquainted with do not necessarily ‘look’ queer so I don’t get how I am supposed to just know who was queer or not by looking around the room! I’d say it was 3/5 women and 2/5 men on first day and maybe  ¾:1/4 on the second.

6) What do you think if anything was missing from the debates?

There could have been more discussion about men as engaging with/resisting sexualisation, although there were a few presentations on this. There were discussions of class, race difference and how the debate mainly focuses on white m/c girls, but again more discussion of alternative sexualities etc. could have been good.

Would have loved to see more on masculinities and transsexualism. 

http://www.ioe.ac.uk/research/50360.html

An analysis of the conference from a gender perspective

Using a technique I implemented in my Phd research, which also included analysis of conferences, I examined how the conference was balanced in terms of themes and gender representation.

Of the 85 talks given 38 focussed on specific gender identities. I found that of these 32 were on the subject of women or girls or feminism, 5 were on men and masculinities and 1 talk was on trans issues.

In percentage terms this works out as:

Women and girls and feminism : 84%

Men and masculinities: 13%

Transgender identities: 3%

Imagine if 84% of the talks about gender at a conference were on men? What would feminists say to that? This finding really supports the claim made recently by Tom Martin that gender studies is biased against men.

Looking at the gender balance of speakers, which is never an accurate science just based on names, I found the breakdown of men and women (I don’t know about trans/gender queer speakers) to be as follows:

Porn talks (9)

7 women, 2 men

Masculinities (6)

4 men, 2 women

Women girls/feminism/femininities

32 women, no men.

Sexualisation (18)

12 women, 6 men

Young people (15)

13 women, 2 men

Sex (3)

2 men, 1 woman

Trans (1)
1 woman

Asexuality (2)
1 man, 1 don’t know

Again imagine if this was the other way round, and men were giving talks on women and girls but no women were giving talks on men and masculinities, or if twice as many men were speaking about sexualisation than women. This confirms my belief that the ‘sexualisation’ debate is dominated by feminist women, in academia at least.

The remaining 47  talks, on subjects around sexualisation, I broke down into topics. 15 were on young people, 18 on sexualisation in general, 9 were on pornography, 3 on sex the act itself, and 2 on asexuality.

As percentages this is:

Young people: 31%

Sexualisation in general: 39%

Porn: 20%

Sex:6%

Asexuality: 4%

The fact the majority of the talks were on young people, and sexualisation in general, suggests that the conference was following the lead of the media, and focussing on the effects of ‘sexualisation’ on young people and children. It would have been nice to have seen more discussion of sex, sexualities in general, and from the perspective of adults, including a critical perspective on the discourse of ‘sexualisation’ itself. You know, as Foucault might frame it.

Papers and people from Pornified getting media coverage:

The only media coverage I have seen come out of the conference has been from anti-porn feminists and their supporters. I spoke to Petra Boynton about this (she was not in attendance), and she said the media ‘misrepresented’ the conference. But I think anti porn feminists are very good at getting airplay for their stance in the media, and at linking their academic work with their activism. Partly because they are more like ‘activists’ in the political sense than many people who are pro-porn, or just not anti-porn.

The anti-porn articles which appeared in the media during and following the conference included:

Gail Dines in The Guardian on ‘pornified’ culture:

Peter Hegarty’s paper at the conference on lads mags/rape discourse got media coverage in The Guardian and Jezebel the American feminist site:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/dec/09/lad-mags-rapists-study?newsfeed=true

Rosie Mockett wrote about the Muff March and used the term ‘pornified culture’:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/09/muff-march-against-pornified-culture?newsfeed=true

Conclusion

My view of the Pornified conference hasn’t really changed from my initial reservations about it. I think the use of the title ‘Pornified’ and the focus on discourses of ‘sexualisation’ means the academic/practitioner work in this area is led by the media and feminism’s agendas, rather than setting its own questions and perspectives.

The domination of the conference by women speakers, and papers about women and girls meant it could never be a balanced discussion of sex/sexuality/media/discourse. And, the attendance of high-profile anti porn feminists such as Gail Dines and Anna H from Object further skewed the conversation.

When women complain about lack of representation at events, sometimes the organisers say -‘ but not enough women applied’. This excuse has been used at Pornified too, to explain the lack of papers on/by men. But I think the organisers could have tried harder to find some men researching the subject and looking into sexualisation from the perspective of boys and men. If academic research in this area is dominated by women, the organisers could still have sought out men speakers, either in other related subjects, or from the wider world including journalism, and public and sexual health services.

I also think the conference could have considered why people focus on girls and women in this debate? Isn’t that a question worth asking instead of just producing lots of papers about… girls and women? The conference included researchers who claim to be ‘critical’ in their approach to discourse, but there did not seem to be a critique of the basic premises of this ‘discourse’ of sexualisation, or more specifically, of the language used by the media, feminism and academia within it.  The  Jezebel Headline ‘what’s the difference between lads’ mags and a rapist?’ based on one of the papers showed just how ‘uncritical’ some of the research was, and how easily it played to dominant media and dominant feminist agendas.

What’s Happening To Our Girls? was the title of one of the sessions at Pornified and I think it sums up well the general theme of the event. It presents girls and women as ‘victims’ of ‘sexualisation’ and leaves boys and men as shadowy figures in the background, and as potential ‘perpetrators’ of whatever harmful effects this ‘sexualisation’ is supposed to produce.

UPDATE: Petra Boynton corrected me to say that she didn’t say I was unqualified to comment on the conference, due to not being there. She just pointed out that neither she nor I were there and it would be good to get some views from people who were in attendance. Which I then did! QRG

Comments
  1. Lawrence says:

    It would be interesting to know the age range of people in attendance also/giving the talks. Also how much the research presented/debates talked about the views/experiances of young people using porn/having sex/being involved in sex work/paying for sex. I read articles all the time about young people by middle aged white journalists who, if they use the words of a young person at all, it is to back up what ever argument they are making. Sex is too often seen as something done to children and young people, which they have no imput in or controll over. I don’t believe is the case for the vast majority.

    Also, were they’re any voices of those from there early twenties/late teens? this age group was the possibly the first to have easy access to vast ammounts of pornography via the internet. Any discussion which takes place with out them is missing out on something of fundimental importance.

    • There were a couple of papers looking at young people’s language and terminology. also some phd students many of whom are in their twenties but on the whole I think you’re right it is dictating to/talking about young people, not talking to them/with them.

  2. redpesto says:

    Aha! So it’s not just the likes of Kira Cochrane who can crunch numbers…

    To be honest, this is just a re-run of the ‘porn wars’ from the 1980s, right down to the fact that it’s debate between women about (heterosexual) men and their sexual/erotic consumer habits. Dines has been doing her thing for over two decades, and getting plenty of space to do it, so it’s a bit rich for her to start wailing ”snot fair!’ because he and her allies didn’t get a bully pulpit on this occasion.

    But I think anti porn feminists are very good at getting airplay for their stance in the media, and at linking their academic work with their activism. Partly because they are more like ‘activists’ in the political sense than many people who are pro-porn, or just not anti-porn.

    It is about activism rather than proper research. That’s why the Lilith report got taken apart by Brooke Magnanti; it’s why 27 academics called out Julie Bindel and the Poppy Project over the ‘Big Brothel’ report; it’s why the press release for the lad mags/rapists ‘research’ included a nice juicy quote from Object, why its actual research ‘methodology’ looked more like a ‘gotcha’ to prove the findings the researcher preferred, and probably why the Guardian (home to Ben ‘Bad Science’ Goldacre) published it. Even if one does agree that there are important issues to be addressed, the anti-porn crowd repeatedly managed to poison the well, whether in the mainstream press or in academic debate.

  3. >“The fact the majority of the talks were on young people, and sexualisation in general, suggests that the conference was following the lead of the media, and focussing on the effects of ‘sexualisation’ on young people and children. It would have been nice to have seen more discussion of sex, sexualities in general, and from the perspective of adults, including a critical perspective on the discourse of ‘sexualisation’ itself. You know, as Foucault might frame it.”

    The conference was challenging popular culture and media hence its surface appearance of ‘following’ them. For example, What’s happening to our girls? is the title of a book written by Maggie Hamilton that argues the usual ‘too much too such for girls in a sex saturated culture etc. Etc.’ The keynote speaker who recycled the title for her own paper highlighted how the book is one of several examples of adults speaking ‘for’ girls bringing the speaker (Sue Jackson) to ask the question; “what do girls see as happening?” With that in mind she and her team of researchers worked with 12 year old girls in New Zealand. The point she whittled her presentation down to was that girls’ actual lives are not saturated with sex and sexuality rather such areas are a part of their lives and do not centrally define their lives, and they are both affected by and critical of sexualised media in multiple and complex ways. In short, you have used the title of her talk, a title that was used tongue in cheek during the conference, to suggest that the conference delegates are in a panic over girls.

    Re subsequent media reporting: How can conference organisers and delegates control media representations of conferences? ‘Pornified’, as a term, pre-existed the conference. Indeed there are papers in academic journals dedicated to the term discussing at length the significance of the scare quotes.

    >“The domination of the conference by women speakers, and papers about women and girls meant it could never be a balanced discussion of sex/sexuality/media/discourse. And, the attendance of high-profile anti porn feminists such as Gail Dines and Anna H from Object further skewed the conversation.”

    Given how anti-porn feminists were in the minority, it is difficult to see how they could have skewed anything. Worth noting also that many people I met at the conference had much more complicated relationships with porn than either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’.

    >“This excuse has been used at Pornified too.”

    Who gave this excuse? Was it the organisers? What else did the organisers say about how the programme came together?

    >“There did not seem to be a critique of the basic premises of this ‘discourse’ of sexualisation, or more specifically, of the language used by the media, feminism and academia within it.”
    There was. Plenty of it in fact. Actually the deconstruction of the term is likely to have given rise to the conference in the first place. Have you seen the motif?…

    @Lawrence
    It’s really hard to get past ethics committees when researching sex and sexuality … especially with young people, not to mention children. Nonetheless, several of the papers were ‘empirical’, making the conference ‘pioneering’. I presented a paper on 11 and 12 year children’s (girls’ AND boys’) sex lives … I keep promising to share the paper with QRG … will do my best to make it legible asap.

    • HI Alison thanks very much for your input as someone who was actually there!

      I think my perspective is useful though as it shows how the conference is perceived from the outside and how it has been presented in the media. The more nuanced version you give has not got through to a wider audience and maybe that could be addressed.

      It was the organisers and Petra Boynton who said ‘if you want to see more on masculinity why not send in a paper yourself’ – i.e. its not our fault we only worked with what we have.

      I can’t afford to attend conferences not being an academic or sex ed employee.

    • Lawrence says:

      It sounds interesting, I would like to read it if it is around anywhere (I have instituional access to most academic journals).. Talk to young people as much as possible is really important I feel.

      What do you mean by ’empirical’? I am wary of social research which claims to be ’empirical’ – I have seen what I consider (andI definitely might be wrong) to be very poor application of scientific method which produces empirical data that is essentially meaningless (Like the stuff by J. Michael Bailey et al on male bisexuality).

      ‘The conference was challenging popular culture and media hence its surface appearance of ‘following’ them.’ – That doesn’t make any sense. I have never heard of anyone challenging anything whilst giving the surface appearance of ‘following’ it (aside from satire, but this isn’t satire). Do you not think that it should have been made clearer to the media if that was the case? Academics are hardly powerless, isn’t it their duty to make sure that they aren’t misrepresented in such a way?

      Whilst it is true that there were quite a few papers criticing the sexualisation discourse, by looking at the abstracts of the talks, these were still very much in the minority. To my eye, it seems that most had taken the idea of the sexualisation of young women and it’s negative effects quite uncritically.

      Again, looking at the abstracts, they seem to either deal exclusively with young women, or on heterosexual relationships (aside from a few cases). I don’t see how this is challenging at all to popular culture or the media.

      The papers on Eastern European ‘sexualisation’ looked interesting, but from what I have seen it was only breifly discussed whether this western (anglo-saxon?) term was appropriate for the analysis of eastern cultures.

      I have only had a breif scan of the abstracts document avaliable on the site, so these conclusions might be bollocks, but if the idea was to challenge and debate the idea of sexualisation (rather than as a symposium for the discussion of sexualisation as a verifyed concept), then I don’t think it did it’s job – either within the conference or in it’s discourse with wider society.

      (again, I haven’t read all the abstracts in full – it’s undergrad essay time for me. Please feel free to tear everything apart I have just said.)

      • #empirical – in this context that the majority of talks I attended were based on research done with people about their experiences as opposed to purely opinion-based talks.

        # surface appearance – the impression you may get if you eyeball the programme

        # the media – I’m not aware of any direct reporting on the conference. Had journos interviewed organisers and/or delegates, they may have gleaned a broader perspective. But even then, they probably would have been selective in portraying the event. QRG has shown some examples of how the media recycled the word ‘pornified’ around the time of the conference, a conservative, anti-porn usage which does reflect some of the conference presentations but certainly not all of them. Just for the record the full title was ‘Pornified? Complicating debates about the “sexualisation of culture”: An international conference.’ The title is open to interpretation, and yes satire is one possibility.

        > Again, looking at the abstracts, they seem to either deal exclusively with young women, or on heterosexual relationships (aside from a few cases). I don’t see how this is challenging at all to popular culture or the media.

        I could give endless examples of that challenge, but I don’t have time so here is just one:
        In a session called ‘The gendered, raced and classed dynamics of ‘Sexualisation’ debates’ [again- note the scare quotes], Annamari Vanska (comes from Finland but carries out her research in Stockholm) grabbed my attention with these two points:
        1. There is an outcry when marketers use ‘raunchy’ photos of children yet ‘cute’/ ‘playful’/’innocent’ depictions of girl/boy romance pass by unnoticed. Heteronormativity is overlooked in the (middle-class) panic around sexual excess.
        2. The ‘concerned discourse’ about ‘excessive’ and ‘premature sexualisation of children’ is a distraction from the fact of child labour with the result that ‘sexualisation’ dominates the discussion when children (as young as two) working as models might be more worthy of debate.

        Westerners talk about child exploitation as if it happens in some far off land. Is it right under our nose and all we can do is bang on about ‘sexualisation’?

        Annamari used visual images and documentations of reactions to them as the data for her presentation (what I mean by ’empirical’ in this particular case).

        • Hi Lawrence and Alison thanks for going into a bit more detail. It’s really useful info. And i know one or two bloggers have linked to this post so it’s spreading around a bit…

          I think though that the idea of ‘surface’ impressions being less valid than those of people who attended is problematic.

          Because a) there is a lot written about how full participants in settings are very subjective in their views, so participation doesn’t guarantee ‘knowledge’. Take Big Brother. The people who lived in that house had the most in depth knowledge of the situation, but was it the most ‘true’? Or was the most true what we saw on channel four at 10pm?

          b) because ‘Pornified’ as a word is a media/feminist construct. You would not have attended that conference, entitled Pornified? alison, if it hadn’t been for the discourses promoting that word, that idea. And who is the best person to judge what Pornified? means?

          I think the people at the conference had a chance to convey their messages to the wider world. And I am one of the people conveying the message. And now you and one other blogger and Petra Boynton are saying ‘oh but you werent there!’ but I haven’t seen any other accounts of the conference from people who were there!

          sorry for the long post it’s not meant in a personal way at all. I have loved hearing your views on the event, A.

          :S QRG

        • Lawrence says:

          I know what surface appearance means, It just seems odd for a conference which is supposed to be challenging or ‘complicating the debate’ on sexualisation to have the surface appearance which follows the narratives that do not do that. Surface appearances are important, not only because they are what most people will take with them when they hear about this sort of conference, but they also speak of how the organisers either conceptualise what they are doing or how they want what they are doing to be portrayed. This was a conference which was about sharing research and studying sexualisation – the people who organised it surely must have known how this could be interpreted.

          I am aware of the full title, Although it appears in two different forms on the website: ‘Pornified:…’ for the conference and ‘Pornified?:..’ for the ESRC seminar series which it was a part of. The use or not of the question mark seems important when it is the description of what the conference is about (although perhaps it is a typo), especially, but not only, for surface appearances.

          Though true that there was very little mass media reporting of the event (usually only in conection with the feminist event afterwards), there was quite a lot on social media – esp twitter via the @pornified account . You can only go really into the surface appearance of what is happening on twitter, and the content of the page doesnt look too challenging to the idea of seuxalisation (again, the majority of posts being on women and girls, often implying the negative effects). There were tweets about sessions which did critique it, but these were still very much in the minority. For example, there were many many tweets on the debate about feminism(s) with Gail Dines et al, whereas there were comparitively few from live tweets from talks critising it as a concept. This is also coupled with the positive appraisals by the author of the tweets of some of the talks which re-inforced current sexualisation discourse. Obviously this is the work of one person who couldn’t see all the talks and had their own subjective experiance of the talks, but the twitter looked (if not actually was) the official page for the conference, and thus is important in how the conference was represented. If the twitter page was endorsed by the organisers and those who attended as official, it provides an insight into what the organisers though was important to share with a wider audiance in greater or lesser detail.

          It is interesting that there was very little mass media on the conference. The sexualisation debate is fundimentally a public debate. As the conference has shown there is obviously a great deal of academic interest in the idea. However if the idea was to complicate the debate, doing it far from the public eye (even though the means of getting it out there are flawed, as you have noted), where the debate most needs complicating, was not

          I agree that there were talks which challenged the concept of sexualisation. I don’t know whether you could produce ‘endless examples’, as from the abstracts it seems that the majority
          did not.

          I agree with QRG when she says that the presentation can often be as important as what actually happened. This is especially true with the sexualisation debate, which as I have said is a public one. It is also, as I have tried to show, important because this representation is not just made up by onlookers with their own agenda. This is especially true in the case of the
          ‘Pornified’ conference, where most of the way it was represented, and the means by which it was represented, were decided by the organisers/the people who attended. This is important as it is a telling insight into how they percieved the conference, and for me at least seems to be at odds with it’s stated aims.

          I hope this (and my previous comment) dont sound like personal attacks, I don’t mean them to be. and this is far to interesting not to be discussed🙂.

          • The twitter account at Pornified was interesting. I had some interaction with it/her/them.

            They responded to my critique of lack of men and they said like Petra Boynton, that they just showcased papers that were sent to them – not enough people wrote about men/masculinities.
            That’s just not good enough and feminists don’t accept that excuse when it’s used to justify lack of women at events.

          • >What’s Happening To Our Girls? was the title of one of the sessions at Pornified and I think it sums up well the general theme of the event. It presents girls and women as ‘victims’ of ‘sexualisation’ and leaves boys and men as shadowy figures in the background, and as potential ‘perpetrators’ of whatever harmful effects this ‘sexualisation’ is supposed to produce.

            The above sums up QRG’s grievance with the conference. What I would like to know is: How can the popular/media hysteria around girls/women as ‘victims’ be addressed by skeptics without actually talking about girls/women?! You cannot deconstruct that discourse if you are not allowed to talk about the discourse in the first place.

            It is the case that some presentations appeared to (and actually did) buy into the discourse. The point is that plenty more were suspicious of it. However, I do not object to the inclusion of presenters whose opinions differ from mine. Nor do I suppose that they have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say.

            The lopsidedness of the discussions in terms of the femininities / masculinities imbalance is a shame AND is acknowledged as such (see link below and see Feona Atwood’s book ‘Mainstreaming Sex’ for example) BUT it is not only as a result of a shortage of research. Again, in order to critique the over-representation of girls/women in the public domain, a conversation of girls/women is inevitable.

            In terms of getting alternative views out there in the public domain … academics would probably have to become journalists to do that! The following link shows the struggle to air dissenting voices re ‘sexualisation’:

            http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=416673&sectioncode=26

            Here is another great link to ‘complicating the debates’:
            http://www.onscenity.org/sexualization/

  4. I don’t take the discussion personally, I’m delighted you have gone to the bother of blogging about it.
    #a. It’s not my intention to promote my version as the only valid one. Other people who were in attendance do not hold the same views as me. Their experiences are valid too.

    #b. I did not attend the ‘challenge porn’ conference straight after the ‘Pornified?’ one because the former was a closed shop and the latter I felt wanted to invite people of all persuasions.

    > And who is the best person to judge what Pornified? means?
    I think this question is precisely what ‘Pornified?’ wants us to ask and be mindful of!

    • have just realised #a above looks like I’m saying your perception isn’t valid. Meant to say that even other people who were there had varying (valid!) experiences, so it’s not strictly a question of having been there or not. I guess you have reviewed a conference programme and I have responded in terms of specific talks I attended.

      • sure. But you’re just one person. Your perception is subjective. I tried to interview more people but they weren’t very forthcoming! I love research and I find it fascinating the interface between ‘real life’ – eg the conference, and ‘representation’ – eg media/conference timetable etc. Because the ‘representation’ is real too. I am here, sat at my computer, writing this.😀

  5. Too right, Alison, ‘what’s happening to our girls’ sums up my grievance with the conference. I didn’t say nobody should talk about girls/women.

    I know Feona and her work thanks for the links!

  6. I disagree that academics would have to be journalists to air dissenting views. The onscenity blog for example is awful, non-interactive, hard to navigate and not user friendly. How about just academics learning how to use social media?

    • Lawrence says:

      Didn’t academics used to get involved in public discourse all the time? They didn’t have blogs or twitter, nor were many of them journalists…

      • yes they did Lawrence and still do when it suits them, Look at Dawkins.

        And Foucault was involved in revolutionary politics. It was Mai 68 etc that fuelled his subsequent academic work.

        • Lawrence says:

          I would like to see more people from outside the natural sciences engaging with the public. They have a lot to give, and I think a lot more to gain.

          I think you could argue that if E. P. Thompson wasn’t so involved in politics and public discourse we wouldn’t have history from below (as we know it).

    • wow stoner heavy stuff. I am of course banned from that site! I might blog about it I will see what happens to the info in the MRA blogosphere first. It’s not that I don’t trust ‘agent orange’ (lol) but that they could retaliate with some nasty stuff too.

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