Symposium: Feminism in the 21st Century
Monday 9 March, 20:00 - 22:00
On this Monday, the Activities Committee is organising a symposium on Feminism in the 21st century. The history of feminism is commonly divided into three waves, concerned respectively with women’s suffrage, cultural and political inequalities and the relevance of intersectional feminism. Nowadays, the topic has become a steady subject of political and societal debate, with movements such as #MeToo, “Las Tesis” and the Women’s March giving feminism a more prominent stage in media and focusing on technology, leading some to suggest that a fourth wave of feminism has begun. At the same time, contemporary feminism remains a highly disputed topic. From opinons of feminism being unnecessary to the argument that contemporary feminism has become too mainstream to make an impact, criticism is manifold. During the symposium, we will try to look at different aspects of the debate around feminism in the 21st century.
Ailbhe Smyth co-founded and was head of the department of Women’s Studies at University College Dublin (UCD) for over 15 years. In 2007, she left UCD to work in feminist and community settings. Active in feminist, socialist and LGBTIQ politics for many decades, she was on the Strategic Executive of the successful same-sex marriage referendum campaign in Ireland in 2015. A pro-choice activist since the 1980s, in 2013 she co-founded the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, a wide cross-sectoral group campaigning for abortion rights in Ireland, and was co-Director of Together for Yes, the organisation which eventually led the successful abortion referendum campaign in 2018. She was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2019. During her part of the symposium, she will offer her view on contemporary feminism, focussing on what she believes are some of the key changes over time as well as the challenges ahead.
Dr. Francesca Sobande is a lecturer in Digital Media Studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University. Her research explores issues concerning racism, sexism, structural inequalities, media and the marketplace and particularly focuses on digital culture, Black identity, diaspora, feminism, creative work, and popular culture. Francesca is author of the forthcoming monograph The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain, and co-editor of To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe. She has commented on related topics as part of a BBC World Service interview and public engagement events at the Wellcome Collection, Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Foundation for Art and Creative Technology. Her part of the symposium will focus on Intersectional Feminism and its relevance.
Claire Fox is a writer, broadcaster, free-speech campaigner and author of I Find That Offensive! She is a panellist on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and appears in UK media frequently, including on Newsnight, Any Questions and Sky Newspaper Review. Claire is a member of the European Cultural Parliament and director and founder of the Academy of Ideas. Additionally, she convenes the yearly Battle of Ideas Festival. Claire Fox was elected Brexit Party MEP for North West England at the 2019 European Parliament election and served until the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. Her part of the symposium will focus on a critical perspective towards contemporary feminism.