The National Union of Students (NUS) Women Conference currently underway in the UK has drawn substantial attention for its efforts to encourage attendees to use “jazz hands” instead of clapping in order to avoid triggering anxiety attacks in participants.
This attention, however, diverts attention away from another interesting aspect of the event: The motley array of strange and fascinating resolutions attendees at the conference have been voting on.
Thirty-one different motions, plus a handful of sub-amendments are under consideration at the three-day conference. With one day to go, many have already passed. Technically, they are all to be debated and voted on, though notably while every motion has a designated college speaking on its behalf, not a single motion has any group listed as providing opposition.
Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful! #nuswomen15
— NUS Women’s Campaign (@nuswomcam) March 24, 2015
Here’s 11 of the most fascinating motions members have approved or have yet to consider. Every measure is identified by its actual title.
1. Motion 504: The Tax On Menstruation To Be Abolished. Period
This motion demands the abolition of the 5 percent value-added tax the UK currently levies on feminine hygiene and sanitary products, in particular tampons.
“The fact that cake and men’s shaving razors are considered ‘a necessity’, whilst fundamentally important intimate products, such as tampons, are not, goes against all ideas of social equality,” it declares. “The cost of sanitary products is an unfair burden and a gendered tax on our wombs.”
2. Motion 512: Dear White Gay Men: Stop Appropriating Black Women
Gay white men acting too much like black women is apparently a serious issue in feminism.
“White gay men may often assert that they are ‘strong black women’ or have an ‘inner black woman,’” the motion reads. “White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege.”
The motion calls for NUS members to work to “eradicate” “unacceptable” practices
3. Motion 405: Trans Inclusion in the Women’s Campaign: Siblings, Not Cisters
Considering the other proposals being floated at the conference, a call for greater inclusion of transsexuals and transgenders in the NUS Women’s Campaign is pretty mundane. The pun in its title, however, is spectacular.
4. Motion 302: Universal Basic Income
The activists of NUS think that a universal basic income (paid to everybody, whether they have a job or not) is a key component of women’s rights. This “basic” income covers far more than just food and a roof, however. According to the motion, possessing a “basic income” means being able “to afford housing, feed oneself and dependents, buy clothes, afford fuel to heat one’s home and cook, public transport, internet access, a mobile phone and leisure services such as libraries and swimming pools.”
5. Motion 509: Supporting women on the front line
No, this isn’t an expression of support for women in the armed forces. Did you forget what sort of conference this is? Rather, it’s a show of support for women on the other front line, namely, the feminist one.
“Feminism is hard, emotive and exhausting work,” the resolution reads, and accordingly the resolution calls for NUS to expend greater effort in providing support networks and mental health aid to feminist activists, female caseworkers, and others.
Notably, this motion is prefaced with a “Content warning” that it discusses rape and sexual assault.
6. Motion 304: Support the right to education and justice for Palestine
Obviously, no left-of-center student assembly these days is complete without an otherwise unrelated call for a boycott of Israeli companies and an end to the blockade of Gaza.
7. Amendment 202a: For a Liberated and Democratic Curriculum
This amendment was attached to a motion demanding free college education for all, and takes things a step further. Not only should college be free for UK residents, it says, it should also be free for all foreign students who come to the UK to study.
The amendment also demands that school curricula be “liberated” by “fighting against a whitewashed and male-dominated curriculum.” Universities themselves should be “run by workers, students and the wider community” rather than “unaccountable managers.”
8. Motion 510: Eff your beauty standards
“There has been a constant attack on black women’s blackness for centuries,” this motion boldly begins. “Often times their default image has been exploited and left black women feeling like their bodies where [sic] inanimate objects, and hair, a petting zoo.”
This motion plans to fight back on behalf of black women’s blackness by calling for a campaign against any products designed to lighten skin tones. It also call for NUS to set up a workshop to promote “body positivity” among black women.
9. Motion 308: Prison Abolition is a Feminist Issue
If you think that people who commit crimes should be put in prison, you are not a good feminist, declares Motion 308. Women in prison are more likely to have mental illnesses and to suffer from physical or emotional abuse, it says, and on top of that, the “prison-industrial complex” is disproportionately harmful to “women, people of colour, LGBTQI+, sex worker, trans and working-class communities.”
The motion also argues that prison is the creation of sinister rich people.
“The ruling class determine what warrants incarceration; as such prisons do not work in our interests,” it says. The solution? Naturally, work to phase out all prisons, and “write letters of solidarity to prisoners.”
10. Motion 502: End Transphobia, Biphobia and Islamophobia on Campus
This measure is mostly intended to attack lesbian feminist writer Julie Bindel, who has been sharply critical of transsexuals and has also condemned Islam. It also stands out for including a “Content Warning” for “Transphobia, biphobia, and Islamophobia” literally one line below the name of the motion, which mentions transphobia, biphoba, and Islamophobia.”
11. Motion 303: Supporting the decriminalisation of sex work
Interestingly, in the motion on prison abolition, the disproportionate presence of lesbians, immigrants, and other disadvantaged women in the prison system was used as an argument for the system’s total abolition. In the case of sex work, the disproportionate number of lesbians, transsexuals, immigrants, and other disadvantaged women pushed into sex work is used as an argument for complete legalization.
Ironically, besides the usual suspects “anti-choice, anti-LGBT right-wing fundamentalists,” the continued criminalization of sex work is blame on “radical feminists.”
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com