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Lunchbox / Soapbox

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at The Wheeler Centre

Michelle Smith: From Prim to Poledance: Girls, Sex and Popular Culture

Today’s consumer culture persistently uses girls as icons of sexual attractiveness in advertising, film and television. In the nineteenth century, print media did not dare positively associate girls with sex.

What does the dramatic change in the popular representation of young women mean for how girls are seen? And how does it affect how they see themselves?

We now afford girls the same educational opportunities as boys, yet our popular culture increasingly socialises girls to value themselves not only for their beauty but for their sexual desirability. Did girls fare better in the Victorian era?

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good rant. Every Thursday, the Wheeler Centre hosts an old-fashioned Speakers’ Corner in the middle of the city, where writers and thinkers can have their say on the topics that won’t let them sleep at night.

Featuring some of our most compelling voices across just about every sector of human endeavour you can imagine, the themes dominating Lunchbox/Soapbox are proudly idiosyncratic. BYO lunch. Ideas provided.


Portrait of Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith

Dr Michelle Smith is an ARC postdoctoral fellow in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, where she researches nineteenth-century girls’ literature and culture. She is also a regular media commentator on gender in popular culture, especially in relation to childhood.

Lunchbox / Soapbox

We love exploring ideas at the Wheeler Centre, and encouraging others to do the same. That’s why every Thursday lunchtime we hand the microphone over to the great thinkers, dreamers and orators of our time.

With a dazzling range of passionate speakers and unusual topics, our soapbox provides a platform for the eclectic, topical and enlightening stories you won’t hear elsewhere. This is the most memorable lunch break you’ll have all week.

If you’re in need of sustenance of body as well as mind, the MOAT lunch cart will be serving delicious $10 lunchboxes in the Performance Space from 12.20pm.


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