A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
I’ve been subscribing to The New European for the last year. The ‘pop up’ newspaper launched in 2016 intended to run for four issues, but has kept going as a weekly paper. It’s a pro-EU/remainer newspaper designed for remainers like me. Except, in the last few weeks I’ve thought about cancelling. My views on Brexit haven’t changed – I’m as opposed as ever – but I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the line of The New European. Put simply, the nastiness. The tone of the paper has become increasingly obnoxious and bitter. The paper needs to present a positive vision of a future in the EU, but it’s too often giving credence to the label ‘remoaner’. Take the Tim Walker Mandrake column. I liked it at first but I don’t think there’s been a column yet in which he’s failed to mention the Telegraph – from where he was sacked – and gone on a bitchfest. Let it go, Tim. Like Jack Nicholson’s President in Mars Attacks, I find my self increasingly asking “why can’t we all just get along?’. Of course, he was promptly stabbed and killed.
Nastiness in politics leads – as Yoda (so many sci-fi references this week) might say – to the dark side. Labour is seeing this with the ongoing antisemitism row. The Tories, as this weeks’s Spectator cover memorably illustrated, are once more at civil war. At a time of crisis for the UK, leadership is absent hence we’re lumbered with a malfunctioning Maybot.
Send for the Lesbians! Any gay man involved in a activism knows that if you want something done, you put a lesbian in charge. Hear me out. I have memories of the early noughties of being involved in a regional campaign to try and repeal section 28 (ultimately resulted in the S122 of the Local Government Act 2003) and all the gay men proceeded to shag each other whilst the lesbians sorted things. I think it was ever thus. So, the pleas have gone out over the last couple of years to Ruth Davidson, the remarkable Conservative leader in Scotland. She’s made it clear in a Sunday Times piece today that she will never run as national Tory leader, and she does so in such a way that I suspect will make people want her all the more. When the lesbians say no, you know you’re truly screwed.
It’s been another busy week. It kicked off with a fabulous conference at Northumbria, organised by my colleague Frances Hamilton on same-sex marriage and supported by the Society of Legal Scholars. It was a great start to another year of events from the Gender, Sexuality and Law research team at Northumbria and culminated in a nice dinner at my favourite restaurant in town (how we knock those ivory tower myths on the head). It was a wonderful bringing together of scholars across Europe. This was followed by a wonderful bringing together of a few friends over drinks, which ended with two of us on Newcastle’s scene at 3am in town. On a Monday. I’m 38. Send help.
The week was then full of the usual meetings with Wednesday providing a particularly low point. It was a training session. For two hours. It overran. These things are always a tough gig but this was an especially painful session as slides were read out that the presenter wasn’t entirely familiar with. On and on it went. The Universe provided me with the sight of three young men doing a series of back flips and forward roles in the quod outside and appeared to be filming their dramatic poses in front of some of the University sculptures. I inwardly cried when they left and I could no longer stare out the window. Come a change of speaker, and half the room suddenly legged it. I’d been subdued into a near catatonic state and was too slow to get up and shift so I had to stick it out another five minutes before snapping and leaving in an embarrassed flurry. For a group of lecturers, we make lousy students.
This week did have a highpoint though with one of my PhD students submitting their thesis. Alexander Maine has spent the last three years working on his wonderful project ‘Same Sex Marriage and the Sexual Hierarchy: Constructing the Homonormative and Homoradical Legal identities’. As sad as I will be to lose him, he is going to be an important and exciting voice in academia.