Where do men fit in the world of feminism? How are women treated in Bollywood today? These questions and more are being asked this semester by the UOW Feminist Society (FemSoc) .They have launched a series of free lectures and they are using them to ask the big questions about women today.
Formed after the University of Wollongong’s gender studies major was cut earlier this year, it is hoped the Freeschool lecture series will help bring awareness to feminist issues as the major was axed due to a lack of interest.
“It’s to do with cost-cutting measures and only having cost-effective causes,” FemSoc President Jane Aubourg said.
“Which isn’t really what university is supposed to be about. So this idea that we only have the really popular courses which are going to make money somehow… it’s ridiculous.”
Run by academic and student volunteers, Freeschool was developed as a creative way of protesting against the gender studies cuts. It is hoped by FemSoc if the university sees students putting aside an hour of their lunch every Wednesday it will show they have an interest in learning the subject.
Issues covered by Freeschool in the coming weeks will include men and feminism and the history of feminism. Today’s seminar focused on cultural interpretations of “the bride” and the white wedding narrative. Approximately 20 people were in attendance, numbers FemSoc believe reflects that the gender study major should be returned.
UOW’s Feminist Society was formed at the start of 2013 when interest in such a group was made clear by students undertaking the Philosophy of Feminism subject run by Dr Sarah Sorial. The group has since been run by students and academics alike.
Hoping to grow in the months to come, the society already has other projects on the horizon.
“Sometime in the next few months we are hoping to launch a Hollaback site,” Aubourg said.
Hollaback is a site targeting sexual harassment on the street, where victims may be able to express their feelings in a supportive place without fear of condemnation.
Words: SHARRI LEMBRYK
Video: ANNA BADDLEY