The Hist’s first debate of the year took place on Wednesday the 23rd of September on the motion “This House Would Free the Nipple”. The debate featured an all-female speaker line up of students and guests, including the comedian Katherine Lynch. The student speakers both began and ended the debate, as is traditional in GMB debates. The debate was a good example of a Freshers’ week event – it dealt with a topical issue in a relatively easy to access but still engaging manner. The core of the debate was a fundamental question: is the opportunity to undermine the objectification of women worth more than the potential of excluding others?
This theme ran through the debate and was touched upon in every speech in one way or another, beginning with the first speech of the night from Catherine Prasifka. She and others on side proposition highlighted the daily dehumanising effects of women being sexualised and how through regular exposure women might be liberated from this – or take a step forward. However, as Ines Niarchos responded, is the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement really one of radical emancipation? Or is it essentially just middle class white women incapable of seeing how their desire not to be sexualised might exclude many even more disenfranchised than themselves?
As the debate continued these issues were teased out and developed, though as it is so often the case no conclusions were reached. Some of the most interesting contributions came from the various guests, most notably being Katherine Lynch who managed to get not one but two students to indeed ‘free their nipples’ – one of both sexes. She made a strong point of how, as a feminist movement, the campaign needed to involve both men and women.
It was Katherine who best combined humour and audience engagement with her more serious points, but the other speakers – from Dee Courtney to Annabel O’Rourke – also lightened the often serious discussion to very good effect. GMB debates can often be a daunting experience for the uninitiated, with dense theory and the kind of jargon usually found on feminist blogs and socialist papers, but this debate successfully skirted this while still posing interesting questions.
Overall, it was a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable debate. Perhaps the accessibility did prevent it from really questioning some of the underlying issues and assumptions, but in truth that is best left for later debates. The reception was easily one of the best seen in Trinity in Freshers’ week, perhaps even one of the best for the past few years. A combination of delicious food and the kind of craft beers people pay money for (rather than the usual fare of Bavaria) made for a great end to that part of the night. If these receptions continue, they alone warrant continued attendance at Hist events for the year.
But the night did not end for many, who continued on to the Hist’s club night: Anarchist, in the somewhat odd venue of Krystle on Harcourt street. By all accounts the reception left the crowd in good spirits for the walk, and more continued to arrive throughout the night. The first impression upon entering the club was size; the place was huge, with white leather couches and a vast smoking area upstairs. As is becoming a tradition for the Hist, the night was a UV paint party with glowsticks and UV paint readily thrown around. This added considerably to the atmosphere on the dancefloor, where the usual pop and dance tunes played well into the night. The night was hamstring somewhat by the size of the venue, lacking the admittedly huge crowds needed to make it feel ‘full’ – though it had a continued buzz throughout.
Perhaps not a conventionally great night out, all who attended seemed to have a great time. The drinks were not particularly expensive and people got on well as is usual during Freshers’ week. In fact, the closing time seemed far too early for some eager to continue dancing.
All in all the two events were a good start to the year for the Hist, and if the high standard continues may be indicative of a welcome return to form for the society.