The F Word
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When we think about religion, what often comes to mind is restricted access to contraception (let alone abortion), proclamations comparing women’s bodies to uncovered meat (and other, less extreme, embraces of female modesty), and debates about veils and burqas. Women’s bodies often serve as battlegrounds for values and ideas.
But that’s not the full story. For centuries, religious women have been involved in challenging the patriarchy by reconsidering practices, scriptures and theologies from the perspective of women’s rights. And religious women around the world have included both feminism and faith in their daily lives.
Celebrating diversity is a cornerstone of modern feminism … how does that extend to religion? In conversation with women of various faiths, we’ll look at how religion and feminism can coexist, and strengthen their lives and identities.
Alyena Mohummadally is a Pakistani-Australian queer Muslim woman who spent many years as a community legal centre lawyer before recently retraining as a primary school teacher.
She is currently writing a cookbook on modern Australian cuisine with a Pakistani twist, and her two young sons are her favourite people to cook for.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Maxine's short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, the Age, Meanjin, the Saturday Paper and the Big Issue. Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015 and the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize. She was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists for 2015.
Bernadette Tobin is one of the most original and respected voices in Catholic Health Care Ethics. She is Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics, a joint centre of Australian Catholic University and St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney, and Reader in Philosophy at Australian Catholic University.
Jordy is a historian and writer. She is the author of Anxious Histories: Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century (Berghahn Books, 2015), co-editor of In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation (Vallentine Mitchell, 2016), and has been published in New Matilda, Overland and the Conversation.
The official fight for equal representation for women is over a century old. You might think the battle would be won by now, but in 2015, the ‘f’ word is as personally and politically charged as ever. And despite great leaps forward – equal pay (on paper), paid maternity leave, our first female prime minister – we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
The F Word asks where feminism is at, in culture and society, with a series of events that question our assumptions (Can romance be empowering? How can you be a religious feminist?), and highlight areas for change and inclusion, like disability and science.
We begin the series with ‘Bad Feminist’ Roxane Gay, who argues that feminist values can co-exist with contradictions: nursing a childhood affection for Sweet Valley High and wearing heels that hurt your feet doesn’t weaken your dedication to ending domestic violence.