Following the cancellation of a free-speech show at Goldsmiths College featuring Kate Smurthwaite, the comedian has defended her views on women in comedy and the challenges they face.
Goldsmiths Feminist Society and Comedy Society organised a joint show in which Smurthwaite would perform, as she says she has done numerous times for the institution.
With word of the show spreading, Smurthwaite was bombarded with tweets and messages from people opposed to her views on prostitution and religious freedom.
Smurthwaite was then sent an extract of the University’s safe space policy by a concerned organiser: “Our union is ‘for’ sex working… it would probably be best to avoid that area of conversation because that’s what they are most worried about.”
Kate Smurthwaite’s comedy involves routines which are considered anti-prostitution, and she covers themes of religious freedom, something reflected in her activism.
She garners plenty of reaction from her audiences, both critical and appreciative: The Telegraph has even dubbed Smurthwaite “the comedian who confused no interest with no platform”.
The difference in ideologies between the comedian and Goldsmiths, as well as the security issues, culminated to the cancellation of Smurthwaite’s show.
Smurthwaite has responded to the controversy in a blog post, complete with screenshots of conversations to set the record straight.
Solidarity with @FemSocGold who are being blamed by all the media outlets for a decision which they explicitly did not endorse. — Jennieral Election (@miss_s_b) February 2, 2015
@Cruella1 Absurd and surreal that the 70% of students who wanted to see you won’t. So sorry you’re having such a rigmarole. — Piccadilly Comedy (@PiccComedy) February 2, 2015
Smurthwaite said: “I think there is a lot of discrimination facing women in comedy. Typically only a small amount is overt, much is in the form of more micro-aggressions, not being taken seriously, having to prove yourself, sexist jokes in green rooms and on stages etc.
“Being expected to have 100% the same views – even on topics you don’t plan to talk about – as your audience is just another [issue]. There are general trends between younger and older audiences but I don’t think the fundamental issues have changed much.”
Featured image: Jon Cartwright