I am thrilled to bring to you the second and final Leviathan issue for this academic year. The theme of this issue, along with the interpretative and critical collection of articles contained within, takes much inspiration from Kate Millett’s formative piece of radical feminism: ‘Sexual Politics.’ For those unfamiliar with Millett’s work, Sexual Politics (1970) focuses on the omnipresence of male authority – which has become ‘legitimised’ through tacit acceptance of patriarchal traditions – along with the functioning of power within sexual relationships. Perhaps most significantly, Millett postulated that ‘sex has a frequently neglected political aspect,’ and in doing so inaugurated a discussion broadly seeking to understand, criticise, and analyse the principles underpinning the distribution of power between the sexes and within sexual relationships. The pieces in this issue amplify the depth and breadth of this ongoing discussion.
Supported by the Edinburgh Political Union, myself and the team at Leviathan have tried to inspire wide-ranging and diverse conversation, providing students with a platform to critically consider the substance and form of ‘Sexual Politics.’
This issue opens with Rob Robinson’s timely piece examining the increasingly contentious nature of legal and media discourse surrounding queer, trans, and non-binary people, which tends to misrepresent these individuals as predatory and dangerous. Ewa Zakrzewska’s then analyses the domestic and transnational experiences of LGBTQ+ Polish migrants through a focus on both lived experience and the personal views of Polish LGBTQ+ youth on their own migration. Examining the intersection of culture, experience, and patriarchy, Keisha Frimpong demonstrates how the continuing practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) across some African nations is rooted in entrenched teachings about sexuality, which itself is a product of traditional patriarchal norms.
Remaining within a similar thematic focus of gender-based violence, Johanna Nesselhauf analyses the relationship between gender inequality and gender-based violence. To facilitate this, Nesselhauf presents a case study on femicide in Honduras to draw together her focus on gender-based violence in private and public institutions, the silencing of women, and the role of intersectionality. Analysing arguments made by scholars of feminist theory and the constructivist school of thought, Stanley O’Brien considers which political theoretical perspective is most useful when seeking to address the issue of sexual violence in war.
In a wonderfully explorative piece, Sophia Georgescu demonstrates how mushrooms – as a valuable source of life and culture – pose a challenge to patriarchal dominance. Milly Holt then discusses why abortion bans in the US sustain a racist and sexist society. Holt’s central argument is hinged on how the consequences of abortion bans reinforce inherently racist, sexist, and economic disparities across the US. Considering the quite contentious issue of sex work in feminist discourse, Karoliine Pärlin examines liberal, radical, and intersectional strands of feminist thought, and how they elevate or silence different voices in the broader sex work debate. Looking at a similarly contentious issue, Esme Patton reviews gender bias in divorce courts. In particular, Patton highlights that gender bias can be viewed on both sides of the spectrum i.e., regarding both mothers and fathers.
Three longer pieces will supplement this issue in its online format. First, Jade Taylor employs an intersectional feminist analysis to demonstrate how liberal feminism’s focus on the achievement of individual rights through a legal framework is insufficient when seeking to attain social justice in sex work and reproduction. Through a comparative analysis of anti-feminist discourses in Hungary and South Korea, Rosie Inwald discusses how the distortion of masculinities under such rhetoric has disrupted efforts towards gender equality. Finally, Julia Bahadrian considers gender in the realm of global politics – which has in recent years witnessed a slew of ‘successful’ and transformative female leaders. To explore this, Bahadrian analyses existing literature, along with a range of factors such as environment, the Covid-19 pandemic, and gendered power dynamics. These three articles can be found online at: http://journals.ed.ac.uk/leviathan, under the ‘ISSUES’ tab.
On a personal note, I will be graduating this summer and therefore moving on from Leviathan after three years on the team – first as Regional Editor, then as Chief Regional Editor, and finally as Editor-in-Chief. Though this period has not ever been without challenges, it has been intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding throughout. In particular, Ethan and I are immensely proud of the work we have done this year to give the journal a new stylistic direction, supported by the rest of the Leviathan team, the Edinburgh Political Union, and our friends at the Edinburgh College of Art.
Finally, I would like to welcome next year’s Executive Committee: Jay McClure as Editor-in-Chief, Grace Hitchcock as Deputy Editor-in-Chief, and Devrath Jhunjhunwala as Treasurer/Secretary. I encourage each of you to take this opportunity in your stride, whatever challenges it might bring.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Leviathan. We have certainly enjoyed producing it.