Do I dare? “Feminist” doesn’t sound good at all

This is my dilemma at the moment: I’m working crazy hours at home and at work. It’s not that I consider working six hours every day at the university heroic, but being nearly six months pregnant, plus having a demanding toddler at home, plus a horrible nesting drive that’s driving me to tidy up every single wardrobe in the house, and last but not least the need to finish my PG in Coaching in January, just before giving birth, is not helping me to find inner peace!

In the midst of all this chaos I have an urgent desire to set up a feminist seminar at the university. My current university is a bit more traditional than the previous one I worked at. People here don’t talk about feminism, they talk about gender; and they refer to women’s rights, not to patriarchy or gender structural discrimination. So I feel at odds with this crazy idea. Should I risk my legal and professional credentials running a seminar with the title “Feminism isn’t bad, let’s give it a go”, or should I try a more conventional approach and call it “Women’s rights”?

These are the things I would like to talk about in the seminar: mothering, body image, new sexism, gender discrimination at the university, gender parenting and feminism, gender differences and science, feminist activism and women’s networks, among others. But I’m afraid that if I include the word “feminism” in the title nobody will come to my seminars!

I feel this sort of isolation more and more. When I say I’m a feminist people look at me as if I’m outdated, a man hater, a woman who ill-treats her partner (something he might agree to, considering how many times in the last six months he’s told me I have a wicked tongue).

On top of this I’m starting to teach a new course this year. This is a big one, with about 100 students, and I’d like to share with them everything that feminism has brought to my life, the inspiring readings and the way of looking at gender relationships, but I don’t know if I dare.

The same applies to my seminar.  What if I title it “Feminism and women” and nobody comes? I’ll be extremely sad, but I’m so much in need of sharing my thoughts, readings and projects with other women that I might risk it.

Any idea for an appealing title? I don’t want to be left high and dry in the seminar room…


9 responses to “Do I dare? “Feminist” doesn’t sound good at all

  1. Natalia, what is your field at the university? What is the new course called? I’m looking for something to tie the feminism seminar to.
    (I read your posts – have been meaning to reply – hoping I’ll get back to you – time passes – so first thoughts straight away today.)

    • My field is law and there is no title for the seminar yet. At this point I’m trying to meet with some colleagues and find out whether there is any sort of common ground tostart cooperating. I don’t want to do this on my own!

  2. How about something relating to gender? “How the construction of gender is punitive,” or “The politics of gender.” I think more and more universities are moving towards examinations of gender, and away from women’s studies. Possibly because it’s less politically charged, but also, maybe, because it allows for examination of how cultural construct of gender hurts women AND men.

  3. Oh, I’ve just re-read the post and originally missed where you talk about how your university uses gender. You could try something like, “How gender has hijacked feminism” or “Patriarchal systems and gender oppression.” I’d sign up for either of those.

    Good luck.

    • I like the politics of gender. Maybe is not such a bad thing at the end ( using he word gender) and might engage more people. Thanks for the suggestions. I will let you know what happen at the end.

  4. Or something like Contemporary Gender Issues…. or Contemporary Constructions of Gender. Good luck! feeling isolated can be a difficult thing, especially in a large institution. keep us updated.

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