Swag-collab (1).png
Collab: SWAG / October 05, 2020

With Anna Bambrick

Hosted by Jasmine Hunt Keir Aitken

Edited by Constantinos Stylianou

Posted in Collaboration Political Philosophy Main feed Society Feminism Successful Womxn

In this episode we discuss women's place in the world and why it's important to celebrate successful women.

In this episode we discuss all things feminism. We talk about what SWAG is and its role in the Glasgow University community. We talk about inspirational philosophers, why it's important to celebrate women and what grinds Anna’s gears most.

01:10 - Anna discusses what SWAG is, some successful women who have been involved with SWAG’s work and what they’ve been up to during lockdown!

04:32 - Anna discusses some inspirational women she admires.

14:56 - Anna explains what the 'X' in 'Womxn' means.

Further Reading:

Non-Fiction: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez

Fiction: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Podcast: How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Keir Aitken: I actually heard differently about her name that she’s actually named after a Glaswegian sport, J.K. Rowling?

Jasmine Hunt: [laugh]

KA: [laugh]

AB: I just put my head in my hands, because you couldn’t see that.

KA: [I just got it out there…]


Jasmine Hunt: Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another episode of Thoughts. My name is Jasmine.

Keir Aitken: And my name is Keir.

JH: And today on the show, we have Anna Bambrick, who is Vice President of SWAG – Successful Women at Glasgow – who’s a fourth year History and Geography student. So, here are some Thoughts on feminism and Successful Women at Glasgow.

JH: Hi, Anna! Thank you for virtually being here with us today on this episode of Thoughts.

KA: So, first things first, just thought I’d ask you, what is SWAG and how did you get involved with it?

Anna Bambrick: So, to quickly explain what SWAG is, quite easily it is a student society at the University of Glasgow, and we aim to create a platform to showcase the personal and professional successes of women. And in addition to hosting speaker events, which is our main sort of thing that we get up to, we also try to fundraise for Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis and advocate for a safer university campus.

JH: Awesome. So, who are some of the women you’ve worked with in SWAG or who are some of the women you want to work with?

AB: So, last year, we hosted for instance Lyndsey Jackson, who is the Deputy CEO of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We also hosted Selina Hales, who’s the founder of Refuweegee, and also Amna Saleem, who is a broadcaster, and they’re all very different from very different backgrounds. And this year, we’re looking forward to hosting Professor Anna Dominiczak – I’m not sure if I’ve pronounced that right, but she is a leading Professor in cardiovascular sugery who works for the University of Glasgow. So, we’ve got a bit of STEM, we’ve got a bit of arts, we’ve got a bit of NGO going on. We try to get a wide variety of speakers.

JH: That’s so cool.

KA: So, I was wondering, you’ve got all these talks during term time. Is there anything that SWAG has been doing during lockdown?

AB: So, during lockdown, right now we’re currently planning a reproductive health panel, which was supposed to be hosted during Women’s Week this year but sadly had to be postponed for obvious reasons. So, that will include speakers from Sexpression, Hey Girls who provide free period products, Dr. Martins Da Silva, and Endometriosis UK. So, they will be talking all things reproductive health, and hopefully this will take place on Zoom and be broadcast live, is the plan. It’ll be the first time we’ll do something like this, so it’s very experimental, but we’ve all been to a lot of these sorts of things over lockdown, I’m sure now. So, it’s quite a done thing. We’ve also started our fundraising campaign, which is exciting. So, these past two weeks, actually, we’ve been ‘Moving to Make Change’. So, we’ve all collectively tried to walk 220 miles which is the number of [women] MPs in the UK government.

KA: [whistle] Wow.

AB: Yeah. Out of 650, I should say. [laugh] And we’ve kicked off- I think we’re already over £600, and we were aiming for £2000 by the end of the year, so we are overwhelmed with the support that we’ve had.

JH: Is there any way any listeners could continue supporting that? You could plug it maybe a little bit? [laugh]

AB: Yeah, so… [laugh] On our social media pages, we have a JustGiving page linked that you can go and donate to Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis, who do amazing work to help support victims of sexual assault and sexual violence.

JH: That’s awesome. So, you’ve sort of mentioned people you’ve worked with in the past, people who have come and spoken for you guys, but I was just wondering personally, who are some inspirational women to you? Who do you admire?

AB: I think one of the most famous successful women for me is Nadiya Hussain, who won the Bake Off a couple of years ago.

JH: Oh, love her!

AB: And when she was on the Bake Off, she was just so… like a real human, which sounds ridiculous but she was so down-to-earth. And when she won, you could just see how much it meant to her. And since then, she’s gone on to work a lot with the BBC and have TV programmes and write books and be successful, but still keep like, true to herself and her family, which is what she’s all about. And she did a programme recently called ‘Anxiety and Me’ on the BBC when they did a serious on mental health, and I mean… I think I cried for the entire episode because it was so real and so brutally honest.

JH: That’s really interesting, and I think it is really important to have those sort of role models in your life.

KA: So, as this is a philosophy podcast, the question that I’m raring to ask you is, do you have any feminist or female philosophers that you particularly admire?

AB: Em… The one that stands out for me is possibly a bit of an obvious choice, but that’s who I’m aware of, is Simone de Beauvoir?

JH: Oh, yeah!

AB: She is obviously one of like, I’m going to say the founding feminist philosophers and kickstarted a whole movement, and a lot of what we talk about now, whilst it may be different from what she wrote about, has come from where she started. But one thing that I read recently that I found interesting but disagreed with was that, they talked about whether she was actually a philosopher or just someone who thought, and was just thinking. [laugh] I was like, surely that’s what a philosopher is, so I don’t know why we’re making that differentiation. But I found it interesting that, in all fields, women are spoken about differently to men for some reason. But yeah, she’s… Obviously, she’s the author of ‘The Second Sex’, for anyone who is thinking, “I recognise her name but I can’t think where from”.

KA: I know that something that’s been a topic in SWAG recently is whether there should be an ‘x’ in women. So, I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit more about ‘women’ and ‘womxn’ and where you stand on this point.

AB: Yeah. So, at some point during our handover this year, which was about June-time, we made the decision to change our name to ‘Successful Womxn’ - with an x – ‘at Glasgow’. And we made this decision because we wanted to be more inclusive of our non-binary members and to acknowledge the intersectional feminist movement which ‘womxn’ is designed to move away from previous attempts to… previous feminist attempts to create a better space for women. So, in the past, there was a suggestion that it should be ‘womyn’ with a y, and it was… The idea was that it was a rejection of women being “of men” in some way, and it was women moving away from that. But one of the instances where it was first used, it was at a feminist festival where the founder of the festival refused entry to all transgender women, which therefore meant it was not an inclusive term in any way. Which is why ‘womxn’ was coined, and it also aims to foreground those other groups like women of colour, non-binary people, women with disabilities, women with… Transgender women. Those who were previously pushed aside, even though obviously transgender women are women and all of the- women of colour are women. But the idea is that it’s a more inclusive term that moves away from previous lines of thinking.

KA: Okay. Well, again, on the idea of the exclusion and the inclusion of trans women and womanhood, we were wondering what SWAG’s thoughts on J.K. Rowling and her recent comments and, maybe more specifically, if they thought that they’ve cancelled Harry Potter?

AB: Well… So, here’s the thing… [laugh] J.K. Rowling, what she’s been saying is unnecessary and completely, completely offensive and incorrect.

KA: Would you like to- Let’s talk a little bit about what she’s been saying, just for those who maybe haven’t been following her on Twitter.

AB: She came out and basically said that, how do we identify people, then? Do we say women who menstruate or people who menstruate? But like, she’s trying… She’s trying to find a definition for something that doesn’t need a definition, basically. And by doing so, she’s trying to validate her experiences as a woman, but rather than recognising that in her experience as a woman, she’s been marginalised, she is therefore marginalising other people and excluding them. Does that make sense?

JH: Yeah.

KA: Yeah.

AB: I can’t remember the exact tweet, sorry. I’ve tried to block it from my memory. [laugh]

KA: That’s so fair.

JH: Rightly so. [laugh]

KA: And so, if… Because I know that quite a large movement on Twitter is just saying that we just don’t want to listen to J.K Rowling on these sorts of issues because she just cannot speak from the experience of a trans woman, not being one herself, being a cis woman - which is to clarify, a woman who was born in the body of a female? So, their sex matches their gender? How does that relationship go to Harry Potter? Because I know that there has been a movement of people who don’t even want to read Harry Potter to their kids anymore. Where do you stand on that?

AB: Personally, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. So, it’s really hard for me now- [laugh] that J.K. Rowling…

KA: Yeah, that’s why I asked the question. [laugh]

AB: Yeah. [laugh] It’s a really difficult complex. But I mean, I’ve already bought the books. I’m not giving her any more money. [laugh] I already probably know them off by heart, so I’m not giving her any more money. But I think that what we can do is, we can look at Harry Potter critically and learn from it, as well. There is a podcast that is in the recommendations called ‘Witch, Please’ that looks at… that’s two people chatting about Harry Potter through a feminist lens.

KA: Ooh.

AB: And it’s very good and they’re very funny. But it encourages us to critique readings and suchlike. I mean, J.K. Rowling, for instance, even her author pen name is so that people would buy her book because they didn’t think she was a woman. Her first ever fan letter was “Dear Sir”.

JH: Yeah.

AB: So, she knows more than anybody what it’s like to be misrepresented and mis- and have to change to suit what other people expect. So, why, oh why she is being like this, I don’t know. I think cancelling Harry Potter is totally legitimate, I understand it, but I think it’s a personal person- It’s down to the individual what they want to do, because I imagine some of the storylines in these books of finding friendship and finding their way, people identify with in their own experiences. So, don’t want to take that away.

KA: Mm.

JH: And this brings us to our final question, which is my favourite question of all the question we ever asked, which is: what grinds your gears?

AB: Em, so… [laugh] What grinds my gears especially at the moment, which I imagine is true of many people in not just this country but the world, is quite frankly Boris Johnson. [laugh]

JH: [laugh]

KA: [laugh]

AB: And- [laugh] I won’t go on about his dealing with COVID, the COVID crisis too much because that’s a separate issue, but his attitude towards women and his language that he uses when speaking about women and suchlike is what I can only describe is offensive and depressing to me. [laugh] So, for instance, during the COVID crisis, someone said, “do you think that there are enough women in Parliament to deal with this issue, to help you make these decisions?”. And he said, “well, we have sufficient representation in the decision-making level, so the Cabinet level, of government of women for us to make these decisions, so I’m confident that it will be fine”. And the reality is that 7 out of 22 members of the Cabinet are women, and that’s not even all women from different backgrounds. The majority of them are white. Not all of them, but the majority of 7 out of 22. What? [laugh] How can you think that is sufficient in any way? I- I don’t know.

KA: Well, you’ve been fantastic, Anna, covering things from womxn to Harry Potter. What more can you ask for from a philosophy podcast?

JH: Yeah.

AB: [laugh]

KA: Right, so, thank you so, so much for coming on.

JH: Yeah, thank you.

AB: Thank you for having me. Thank you for asking SWAG along.

JH: [laugh]

KA: And we’ll see you next time we do a Thoughts podcast.

Transcript written by Monique Raranga