Everyday Politics: A Year In Review

‘Everyday Politics’ was created as a section at ‘The Bubble’ in November 2018. Since this date and within a very short space of time, 21 articles have been published, the team has expanded to 4 editors and 11 authors have contributed to making this section one that we hope has made a mark at ‘The Bubble.’ 

We would like to say a huge thank you to the team at The Bubble for a fantastic first year, all our contributors and readers for making our section so special, and a special thank you to Anastasia Maseychik for supporting the birth and growth of ‘Everyday Politics’ from the outset.

Now, we look back at our highlight articles from the year…

Shoaib Ahmed’s highlight article: ‘Opinion: If you “don’t see race” it’s time to check your privilege’ authored by Shoaib Ahmed

Although I may be biased in selecting this self-authored piece as my highlight article of the year, I believe this article truly captures the motivation behind ‘Everyday Politics’ – namely, a section designed to inspire debate, tackle challenging topics and shed light on under-represented subject matters. This piece was inspired by multiple debates, discussions and comments I witnessed that time and time again, failed to seriously consider non-white voices. For me, as a person of colour in a very white space, this article provided the chance to amplify alternative perspectives, to openly and honestly express my views on racial injustices that I felt were being constantly overlooked. It is also important to stress that ‘Everyday Politics’ was birthed from this article alone and for that, I am extremely proud.

Cara Balen’s highlight article: ‘On Media Representations of non-Heterosexual men, and why it isn’t Good Enough’ authored by Danny Cuttell

Time and time again the issue surrounding disappointing representations of non-heterosexuality rears its ugly head. Not much has changed since Danny Cuttell’s article, which delves into the shortcomings of today’s media which is driven by heteronormative values and the ‘straight’ worldview. Current pop-culture defines heterosexuality as the norm, and therefore deems all other gender identities and sexualities as different, or unusual. Such a trend is indicative, of course, of a more systematic and entrenched problem within our society.

As Danny points out, this needs to change. Part of the problem of being seen as an outsider is that non-heterosexual identities are rarely expressed accurately and comprehensively. When the mainstream media does decide to include a non-heterosexual character, they are often merely stereotypical shadows of a real identity – nothing more than a token of diversity. Danny’s article is important for this reason. Each time the issue of under-representation is openly discussed, it serves to shed light on those who have suffered in the dark for too long. Although there are some noteworthy films and series that include well developed LGBTQIA+ characters (Danny lists some excellent recommendations for those struggling to find some); I think we can all agree that this just isn’t good enough. It was established long ago that all identities are of equal importance, so why can’t the media represent them as such?

Namrata Menon’s highlight article: ‘Working machines: by optimising our lives, have we lost what makes them worth living?’ authored by Ethan Green

While I did not indulge in overt, typical-university student behaviours like pull all-nighters, take performance-enhancement pills, or drink copious amounts of coffee, I noticed the persistence of certain other behaviours that were insidious and detrimental to a satisfactory life at university. At one point, I had forgotten why I enrolled in an English program in the first place—I relinquished reading for pleasure; now all reading was directed towards knowledge accumulation. I undertook self-punishment by walling myself in and refusing to socialise, I began to measure the day down to the minute according to how much I studied, and perennially spent my present moments in dreadful anticipation of an imaginary bleak future. ‘Working machines’ gave voice to the nameless fears I was facing, and made me realise that there is much more to university than stellar grades and turning everything you touch to gold. It served as a reminder that often the best kind of learning happens in situations where you’re not poring over books; eureka moments often surprise you by occurring in states of relaxation. It reinforced the idea that periodically disconnecting from the stressful life at university is equally vital for one’s development. This article has made me slow down and reflect when I feel the stress is getting the better of me, and take a moment to be grateful for all that I have, and acknowledge I’ve come a long way.  

Ethan Green’s highlight article: ‘Opinion: It’s time to talk about…the excessive use of trigger warnings’ authored by Shoaib Ahmed

My choice for favourite article of the year goes to Shoaib Ahmed’s ‘It’s time to talk about…the excessive use of ‘trigger warnings.’’ Besides the apparent fact that it is a well-argued and well-written opinion piece, I was attracted to this article in particular because it kindled an important debate about what is or isn’t an ‘excessive’ use of trigger warnings; a topic which, though sensitive, is one that an Everyday Politics section ought to tackle. A critical response to Shoaib’s piece, highlighting the utility of trigger warnings for people with PTSD, was anonymously contributed to the section; in itself a manifestation of the open debate which the original article argued for. In order to counteract the bad rep of university students as close-minded to opinions which contradict their world view, we need to keep engaging with and discussing ideas we may find harmful or even repellent. Especially in an era of polarised political discourse, it is vital to maintain the value of nuanced and reasonable debate if we are to have any hope of finding compromise and common ground.

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