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It’s hard to know whether to cheer or groan at the success of Lena Dunham’s hit TV show Girls. On one hand, it’s encouraging to see real, imperfect female bodies on screen. On the other hand, it’s depressing that such images are still revolutionary. ‘There's people who don't want to see bodies like mine, or bodies like their own bodies,’ Dunham has said.
At this panel discussion, hosted by comedian Judith Lucy, we’ll look at girls on screen. Girls is just one show that has inspired some fiery debates about female representation and diversity in popular culture. Our panel – comprising some of the smartest young women we know – will also respond to clips from Broad City, Freaks and Geeks, The Katering Show, Puberty Blues and, of course, Mean Girls. Can we see ourselves in these characters? Who is left out in representations of girls on screen? What power do these representations hold over our imaginations? And could there ever be a show about girls as gross as The Inbetweeners?
This conversation is suited to girls, anyone who was once a girl and anybody who knows a girl. Join us as we dissect some of our funniest and fetchest pop-culture favourites.
Presented in partnership with ACMI and Plan International Australia.
Judith Lucy is one of Australia’s most popular comedians. A best-selling author, her work in radio, television and film and her sell-out national live tours have made her a household name.
Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and critic who co-hosts the fortnightly literature and culture podcast The Rereaders. She is a columnist on writing at Overland magazine, and a university lecturer and writer-for-hire on film, TV and media. Her first book was the nonfiction investigation Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit (2013), and she’s currently co-writing a second romantic comedy novel with Anthony Morris; their first was The Hot Guy (2017).
Jessica Knight is a Melbourne based feminist, writer, poet and artist. She won a Creative Partnerships grant in 2014. She is the author of a book of poetry called Tongue Between Teeth. Her writing has been published in The Victorian Writer, and her artwork was shown in 2014 in a group exhibition at D11 Docklands, called Paper Dolls.
Billie Tumarkin is a young writer and musician. She is currently studying classical voice at the University of Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Birdee Mag, the Hoopla, the Under Age and at wheelercentre.com. In 2015, she was one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s '30 under 30'.
Candy Bowers is an award-winning writer, actor, social-activist, comedian and producer. The co-artistic director of Black Honey Company, Candy has pioneered a fierce sub-genre of hip hop theatre that delves into the heart of radical feminist dreaming.
Aretha is an Indigenous activist based in Melbourne. She is from the Gumbangarri clan in Northern NSW. She represented her mob in Gallipoli for the Centenary last year. Aretha is a passionate public speaker and Youth Activist with Plan International Australia.
Monica is a youth advocate and social worker. She is co-founder of the Afro-Australian Student Organisation, a mentor in the Immigration Museum’s Sarah Myer Leadership Program, a member of the Multifaith Multicultural Youth Network, and youth advisor for the Ghana Association of Australia.
Christine is a qualified organisational psychologist and has over 7 years experiences in psychology consulting with various organisations including ASX Top 100 professional services firms and government departments. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in designing and implementing effective and sustainable people solutions, not only aim to accelerate organisations’ performance, but most importantly to develop healthier, happier and fairer Australian workplaces.
Mimi has over seven years’ experience using media and communication for social change. She is passionate about women’s rights and strives for a world where girls are empowered and have equal opportunities. Mimi appears as key note speaker for Jesuit Social Services at schools and community events. Her inspiring presentation includes her personal journey, messages of empowerment and following your dreams.
Ella is currently studying her undergraduate of sociology at Monash University. She has a keen interest in the constructions of sexual identities, and experiences of bisexual, fluid and non-monosexual people. She hopes to pursue this in research and social work.
Milla is a queer Melbourne musician and co-founder of feminist, black comedy group; Spoon Eyes Productions. Drawn to all things advocacy, absurd and alien in being “the other”, Milla feels most at home exploring the transient nature of identity or debating the existence of Joe Hockey’s discography of Nickleback. With a disturbingly large sock collection and a fierce dedication to equality, Milla strives to create art that allows people to access empathy and shift dominant ideologies.
Alex is a 25-year-old law graduate who has developed a strong passion for disability human rights during her time at Melbourne Law School. Originally from Bendigo, Alex moved to Melbourne to live and study independently in 2010, overcoming many of the barriers often associated with having a disability.
Alex has a strong passion for travel and loves watching the looks on airport staff faces as she wheels away from them after landing with a giant ‘lap-pack’ and no one waiting to pick her up. Alex has experienced working in a private law firm, Victoria Legal Aid, the Department of Health and Human Services and as a research assistant at the University of Melbourne. Alex hopes to pursue a career in disability human rights advocacy.
It’s possible Beyonce called it a little early when she declared, Who run the world? Girls! But if girls don’t (yet) rule the whole planet, they will at least rule the Wheeler Centre for one week in October. HEY GIRL examines the experience of girlhood through a feminist lens – from race, identity and sexuality to development and mental health, the role of social media, to the representation of girls in fiction and more broadly in the media.
What defines girlhood and how is that changing? How do experiences and representations of girlhood vary? Join us to explore the challenges that girls continue to face and let’s hatch some plans to kick those obstacles to the kerb.