Postgraduate officer-elect tweets “no one should be called a misogynist” in criticism of essay feedback
This year’s incoming SU Postgraduate officer, Ellie King, took to Twitter last week to complain of academic bias in the marking of an essay on Anne Boleyn, after having received feedback which criticised her work as “misogynist”.
The extract of feedback shared on Twitter reads: “I was also frequently struck by how the author makes his/her own the misogynist attitude of the sources. Where is the feminist distance?
“The essay presents Anne Boleyn as an insincere, promiscuous woman, rather than a historical protagonist. Feminist reading was one of the basic expectations of the course.”
After complaining to the Head of the History Department, Ellie’s essay was immediately assigned to be remarked by another tutor. She tweeted the quote: “No one should be called a misogynist in their feedback.”
However, responses on Twitter were divided, with one user commenting: “This isn’t calling you misogynist, it’s saying you weren’t critical in your reading of the sources which given the time period had a misogynist bias.”
Another user, Paul Popper, replied: “That’s shocking. This isn’t education. That is doctrine and brainwashing (and bullying of you too).”
Ellie King told The Boar that she is yet to receive the remarked essay, but does not expect her mark to go up.
I have major problems with this because university should be a time and place for challenging views and exploring new ideas, rather than saying we have to be feminist and research in a feminist way on that particular course
– Ellie King, Postgraduate Officer-elect
She added: “I’d say the feedback for the essay was completely fair and I’m not annoyed at the mark I got because I think it was the correct mark.
“My concern was about the general comment of academic bias and how feminism was a basic expectation of the course — I have major problems with this because university should be a time and place for challenging views and exploring new ideas, rather than saying we have to be feminist and research in a feminist way on that particular course.
“I also had issues with the fact she said I basically conformed to the misogynistic bias of the sources — implying I was therefore a misogynist myself?
“However, the department have been brilliant; I complained and immediately have been granted a remark of it from a different tutor, and the Head of Department is following it up with the individual marker, which is great, so I’ve been really happy about that.
“I just think these conversations are super important to have, especially in History where I think it’s unfair to impose modern day views on early modern topics anyway.”
The University has responded to Ellie’s tweet: “Whilst we do not recognise the description used we are aware of a disagreement between a tutor and a student on the use of historical sources in a piece of assessed work.
“As in any such case, the student was simply and immediately assigned an alternative marker.”
Conversely, Third-year Chemistry student James Mason commented: “I agree we should be free to have our own opinions, but I think feminism —the understanding that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities— should be a basic expectation for a critical analysis of the past.
“It’s a lens that helps us better understand our history and why gender relations are the way they are today — and how we can work to improve that.”
Besides her incoming role in the SU, Ellie is a Tory activist and was the social secretary at the University of Warwick’s Conservative Association.