Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

i Newspaper
 
TheIPaper
The Independent around the web

You can't run a fair society from the Gents'

David Cameron has nothing against women, I imagine, in the right place. He's married to one, and he's got a couple of daughters, although he did once leave one of them behind in a pub. I don't suppose he gives much thought to the other women in his life – or rather their absence. He is leader of a political party which has woefully few women MPs, he has a poor record of promoting women to Cabinet and he's notorious for patronising Labour women during Prime Minister's Questions. Remember when he told a Shadow Cabinet minister, Angela Eagle, to "calm down, dear"?

Dave picks a Euro-fight, and society is the loser

It's so obvious it shouldn't need saying: all prisoners are not the same. Some are in jail because they've committed motoring offences or fraud, and they're hardly in the same league as serial killers and rapists. That's why the criminal justice system has different categories of prisons, from open prisons to high-security establishments, and I've never heard anyone argue that all inmates should be treated exactly the same. That, though, is the Prime Minister's assumption when it comes to the question of prisoner voting, which he got on his high horse about last week.

Why won't Leveson ask to see Dave's emails?

I don't suppose David Cameron is looking forward to the publication of Lord Justice Leveson's report on the press next month. The Prime Minister squirmed through an uncomfortable day at the inquiry in the summer, when his close friendship with the former Sun and News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, was revealed in a series of texts and emails. But he must have breathed a sigh of relief last week when the inquiry did not order him to hand over another cache of messages between himself and Brooks, which is said to include embarrassing exchanges.

Finally, abuse victims are being taken seriously

It's the kind of shift that happens once or twice in a lifetime. In the past few days, people who hadn't previously thought about it have suddenly realised that "a bit of harmless fun" might actually be a nasty sexual assault. About time, too: what kind of culture makes a household name out of a creepy child-abuser who didn't even hide his predilections? Jimmy Savile was knighted by Margaret Thatcher and given a Papal knighthood by John Paul II. Now he's the catalyst for a sea-change in public attitudes towards verbal harassment, unwanted touching and worse.

Predators were a grim fact of 1970s office life

It's hard to explain how normal it was - we learned ways of protecting ourselves and others without jeopardising our careers

Journalists investigating the scene of the crime on the Combe de l'Ire

Rolling news devours everything in its path

The horrific French Alps murder case was everywhere in the news, and now, we don't hear about it.

How did an ethical issue become a political one?

There is no obvious reason why so many Conservative MPs should be committed to restricting access to abortion. But they are, and there have been numerous attempts by Tory backbenchers to weaken the 1967 Abortion Act. In recent years, Nadine Dorries and Ann Winterton have been the standard-bearers in a campaign which goes back to 1977, when William Benyon introduced a Bill that would have significantly undermined the 10-year-old Act.

Clarkson, Brand, Assange: The egos have landed

If I were constructing the dinner party I'd least want to go to, the guest list would start with Jeremy Clarkson, Russell Brand and Julian Assange. Just imagine the conversation: I can already hear Clarkson complaining that you can't even make a joke about a dead prostitute these days, while Brand gestures towards his crotch and Assange looks for a balcony from which to address his people.

A child can't 'choose' to be a prostitute

After the Rochdale gang who were found guilty of running a child sexual exploitation ring, we know the perpetrators target vulnerable girls that won’t be believed.

Mitchell must go. Then we can discuss policing

It's hard to imagine a more toxic political combination: a demoralised police force, smarting over a highly critical review of pay and conditions, battered by revelations at the Leveson inquiry, and grieving over the murders of two officers in a horrific gun and grenade attack. Enter a posh Tory MP on his bicycle, treating the police officers on duty in Downing Street as if they were the hired help.

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor