Day 4: Feminism, Freedom and Subversive Voices

About this day

As neoliberalism has shaped and reshapes gendered oppression, women and gender non-conforming people are constantly challenging the social systems that have contributed to freedoms won and eroded and those that are still to be won. As we know, from suffrage to the present day, there is a social hierarchy that determines whose voices are heard, respected and centered. For feminists it is far more complex than merely looking at men and women and the prevalence of male privilege. You will know this intrinsically if you are not white, if you are not straight, if you don’t have a job or a position in this world, if your family is poor, if you live rurally or if you have never had a deserving education.

Feminism is not only about gender, it is about race, sexuality and sexual orientation and class. So like the other isms, feminism can be flawed. As one feminist activist put it: “feminism is messy because life happens in the gaps for which theory provides no cover”. Feminist praxis can be a challenge for us all and it would be a disservice to the feminist movement to overlook this reality. It is through being aware of the diversity and multiplicity of subversive feminist voices, those on the margins, alongside those in high public profile that we can avoid the feminist marginalisation, disregard and co-option.

For it is when we admit our own privilege, our silences and complicities, and give recognition and regard to those on the margins who enhance feminist work, that feminism can make a significant contribution to freedom. Let us listen and critically assess our feminism and provide a model for others to consider in ensuring that their struggles for freedom can be far more intersectional.

Objectives for this day

At the end of this day participants should have an understanding of the realities of some of the blind spots within feminist discourse, and how the achievement of freedom requires us to constantly assess our feminism and what this means for our activism and acts of subversion in pursuit of freedom.

Day activity sessions

This day comprises the following activities: