On 21 January this year, the Women’s March saw millions of people — from America to Antarctica — hit the streets in support of women’s rights. It was the largest single-day demonstration in history.
Calling for change on the page as well as the streets, the luminaries at Sydney Writers' Festival are some of the most revered, relevant and radical figures in contemporary feminism.
From the personal to the political, pop culture to poetry, join them in exploring the latest wave of the movement, and unpack the nuances of some of the most pressing issues facing women today.
If you’re interested in… Woke Twitter, intersectional feminism, the messiness of being a human here and now, pop culture and politics
Don’t miss: Roxane Gay
Because: One of the most prominent, mischievous, and defiant feminist voices in the world today, Roxane’s acclaimed essay collection Bad Feminist was described by The Guardian as 'the most persuasive feminist recruitment drive in recent memory'. Across her novels, her non-fiction, her Marvel Comics or on Tumblr (where the title of her blog is 'Roxane Gay is spelled with one N') – Roxane explores the intersections between race, gender, popular culture, and politics. Nodding to the complexity of culture and the multiple identities we all inhabit, Roxane argues for embracing the values of feminism while providing a strong voice for inclusion, POC and intersectionality
In her words: 'Maybe I'm a bad feminist, but I am deeply committed to the issues important to the feminist movement. I have strong opinions about misogyny, institutional sexism that consistently places women at a disadvantage, the inequity in pay, the cult of beauty and thinness, the repeated attacks on reproductive freedom, violence against women, and on and on. I am as committed to fighting fiercely for equality as I am committed to disrupting the notion that there is an essential feminism.'
If you’re interested in… the personal with political purpose, breaking down boundaries of genre, cult classics, confessional writing
Don’t miss: Chris Kraus
Because: Blending fiction, memoir and essay, Chris Kraus' cult book I Love Dick inhabits the place where art and activism intersect. As co-editor of influential publishing house Semiotext(e), Chris has published groundbreaking works in critical theory, poetics and sexuality. Her body of work as a writer and filmmaker is equally as provocative, and considers questions of gender, relationships, the confessional, and the radical power of women’s voices.
You might not know: I Love Dick sold less than a hundred copies a year until it was reissued in 2006, where it found resonance with a new generation of writers and readers in the Internet age
In her words: 'Writing to you seems like some holy cause, cause there's not enough female irrepressibility written down. I've fused my silence and repression with the entire female gender's silence and repression. I think the sheer fact of women talking, being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else public is the most revolutionary thing in the world.'
If you’re interested in… the reasons why Teen Vogue has become one of the bravest publications in the United States right now
Don’t miss: Elaine Welteroth
Because: With Elaine Welteroth at its helm, Teen Vogue has become one of the most talked about publications in the world. Elaine’s career has been a groundbreaking one: she first joined Teen Vogue as the first ever African-American to hold the post of beauty and health director; she was the publication’s youngest editor ever; and has recently been appointed Editor in Chief, the second African-American to be in this position at Condé Nast. She's expanded the magazine's coverage of social issues and current events, and in doing so, she’s given expression to a generation of educated, empowered teens — and beyond. With an editorial mandate to promote diversity and representation, the masthead has flourished into the voice of a new generation.
In her words: 'The world is waking up to the power of young women.'
'The world is waking up to the power of young women.'
If you’re interested in… iconic feminist literature, the big picture, the history and the future of feminism
Don’t miss: Susan Faludi
Because: This Pulitzer Prize-winner has been a significant voice in feminism for decades. Her worldwide bestseller Backlash articulated the concerns of feminism in the early 90s, and has since become a classic feminist text. Far from being relevant only for its time, Backlash carries a prophetic warning that women of every generation shouldn’t take the gains of feminism for granted: with big gains come equally as momentous backlash. This is a chance to hear from a revered cultural thinker as she considers issues of feminism, gender and identity.
In her words: 'Feminism's agenda is basic: it asks that women not be forced to "choose" between public justice and private happiness. It asks that women be free to define themselves-instead of having their identity defined for them, time and again, by their culture and their men.'
If you’re interested in… gender politics in Australia, channelling your rage into action, internet trolls and how to defeat them
Don’t miss: Clementine Ford
Because: A writer, broadcaster and self-described 'troublemaker', Clementine Ford calls out misogyny wherever it appears: from going public with sexist and abusive messages that she receives online, to her debut bestseller, Fight Like a Girl and her columns for Daily Life. Her work is dedicated to challenging issues of rape culture, violence against women, patriarchal oppression and casual sexism in Australia.
In her words: 'Boys are given the universe in which to carve out their identities, the promise of infinite space for them to expand into and contract upon. Girls are allowed only enough room to be stars, and they must twinkle, twinkle if they want anyone to pay attention to them.'
If you’re interested in… intersectionality, speaking truth to power, making Australia a better place
Don’t miss: Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Because: Engineer, social advocate, and media figure, Yassmin Abdel-Magied has devoted her energy to making Australia a better place. Born in Sudan and coming to Australia at age two, Yassmin was only 16 when she founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation dedicated to helping young people come together to make change. A frequent, and not uncontroversial media commentator, Yassmin has been recognised with numerous awards including Young Australian Muslim of the Year, and 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year. Her first book, Yassmin’s Story, chronicles the impressive first part of a very active, activist life.
In her words: 'If we want to live in a world where the circumstances of your birth do not dictate your future and where equal opportunity is ubiquitous, then each and every one of us has a role to play in making sure unconscious bias does not determine our lives.'