Monday, May 3, 2010

The Oxford Women's Open

On 30th April and 1st May the Oxford Union organized the first Women's Open tournament in Europe. A tournament for gals only, designed to promote women in the world of debating. Two BDU female debaters (Andrea and Dessi) attended the event. Here's a report I've been asked to post:

What struck us was that we were the only team from the continent, as the Brits like to call the rest of Europe. What impressed us were the judges. Each panel in one of the five rooms consisted of world-class debaters: amongst others were Jo Farmer (CA), Sayeqa Islam (DCA), Jonathan Leader Maynard, Tom Hoskins, Gavin Ilsley, Ben Jaspers, Ridyan Morgan and Art Ward. What delighted us was meeting Michael Saliba from Stuttgart at the tournament. He had been in Oxford since the beginning of the week and dropped by to do a little adjudicating.
After each round there were 30 minutes designated for extensive team and individual feedback. Although we didn't fare very well tab-wise, we did have a lot of fun debating the topics of the preliminary rounds and learned one or two new tricks and were reminded of some old basics. Plus we got to debate twice in the famous Oxford chamber:-)

The topics were:
R1: THW only emprison criminals who pose a physical threat to society!
R2: THW allow parents to set up and run their own schools!
R3: THW actively seek and deport illegal immigrants!
R4: THW allow minors to have sex chanage operations!*
R5: THW fund opposition movements in countries ruled by tyrannical regimes!
Final: THB that Catholics should democratically elect the Pope!

The panel judging the final consisted of 9 (!) judges, 6 female and 3 male. The "winneresses" of the final representing Cambridge in the Opening Oppostion were Mary Nugent and Natalie Smith. Congrats! They get to sepnt one week in a 4-star hotel on Malta!

The tournament, despite consisting of female participants only, was not much different than other tournaments. There was a bit more chatting after each round, but that's all in terms of supposed typical female-only behaviour.

The tournament is great for rookies (female only of course), but also for judges (both sexes) who want to learn from world class debaters.

*In round four we had a judge who had obviously studied Gender Studies and who taught us a new word: cisgender. The term describes a person who is comfortable with the gender assigned to them at birth, i.e. a biological female raised as a girl who feels comfortable with her gender identity. "Cis" derives from Latin and means "on the same side". The term is used in contrast to transgenders. Wonderful! Can't wait for the next gender debate!

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