The ‘Feminism in Theory & Action conference’, aimed at providing a platform for discussion about the wider context of feminism and activism, will be held on Saturday 1st November at Wadham.
The conference is being organised by the Oxford Feminist Network, who on their website describe themselves as a “network for women (including cis and trans) identifying as feminist or pro-feminist and their allies from across Oxfordshire”.
The conference will include a range of activities, ranging from panel discussions to documentary screenings and workshops. The conference’s aims are to “bridge the gap between student feminism and the daily struggles of women outside of universities”, and the make up of the panels hopes to reflect this.
The conference’s panel discussions will include ‘Women and Mental Health’, ‘Ecofeminism’, and ‘Women & the Legal System’. The Keynote Speaker will be Selma James, who has become a household feminist name for her seminal ‘wages for housework’ demand.
Alongside panel discussions, the Conference will play host to a number of workshops and visual displays; the ice&fire theatre group will deliver a performance piece about asylum, and there will be a screening of the documentary Three Lives by Kate Millett.
Much of the focus of the conference will be on exploring the intersectionality of feminist issues, such as women seeking asylum, race and feminism, gendered homelessness, and trans health.
Niamh McIntyre, one of the event’s organisers, has echoed this by stating how the conference wants to emphasise “intersections of race, gender and class, and also to emphasize links between the struggles of different eras and different aspects of feminism.”
Charlotte Sykes, the head organiser, explained, “This event is an attempt to show our commitment to intersectionality: we have organised discussions around many of the areas we as a team are active in, and hope that by bringing them into conversation with each other throughout the day we can highlight the important links between oppressions.”
“We feel all great work has been done in highlighting the sexism and sexual violence rife at universities, privileging these stories above all others only reinforces the media’s blindness towards women who aren’t young or extremely privileged.”
With regards to the opportunities for building on feminist dialogue in Oxford, Charlotte Sykes told Cherwell that “there is a great deal of very fruitful discussion in Oxford feminist circles but we feel we need a stronger commitment to activism” and that she hoped “that the conference will inspire that in its attendees.”
Alice Nutting, a member of the Oxford feminist group Cuntry Living, similarly commented, “There’s always going to be room for more intersectional feminist dialogue at Oxford. The conference is going to cover a huge range of oft-neglected topics, from gendered homelessness to women and mental health; I think it’s going to be really inspiring for students and non-students alike to hear from such a wide range of passionate and knowledgeable speakers and take part in feminist discussion and activism.“
Student involvement includes the collective LadyGarden, a group of three second year students at the Ruskin, who have created a feminist art exhibition. In addition, a number of current and ex-student activists from various universities will be taking part in the panel discussions.
The conference will take place from 10:30 till 19:30 in Wadham College. Events will be running throughout the day, and there will be at least two events running simultaneously all day.
Registration is free, but the organisers ask that those who plan on attending register online beforehand.
Additionally, the organisers ask that those who are able to donate do so, as the event will use crowdfunding to meet the speakers’ costs and keep the conference free to to attend.