The first topic in the Parlour Reading Room explores introductory ideas to feminist theory. Our recommended materials are by Sara Ahmed, Kimberlé Crenshaw and Celeste Liddle.

The discussion is a fantastic and lively session with Celeste and Janet McGaw in conversation with Anwyn Hocking and Sophie Adsett.

To frame the Reading Room, we start with Sara Ahmed’s suggestion that “feminism is homework”, but – rather than something assigned by someone else – “it is a self-assignment”.1

Engage with the recommended reading, get together with your reading group to discuss the ideas using our facilitation prompts and watch the video of the discussion.

The ‘readings’ for the month are the introduction to Sara Ahmed’s book, Living a Feminist Life, a video of Kimberlé Crenshaw discussing her conception of intersectionality and Celeste Liddle’s essay “Intersectionality and Indigenous Feminism: An Aboriginal Woman’s Perspective”.

The list of additional material is a fantastic addition for those who are keen to read and watch more.

Supplementary materials

Book stack discussion prompts

Book Stack facilitator to go first and pass around the group. Move through the questions as required, allowing other questions to arise naturally and allow everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts. 

  1. Share your name, pronouns and what made you say “yes” to joining the Parlour Reading Room. Then pass to someone else.
  2. To start with Sara Ahmed’s question, what do you hear when you hear the word feminism? Have the readings changed your understanding?
  3. From the materials, what does intersectionality look like? What does intersectionality mean to you?
  4. Do you consider yourself a feminist? If yes, what does that identity mean to you? Where did you find feminism, or where did feminism find you? If not, how does it feel to try it on?
  5. Do you feel welcome in the feminist movement? What, if anything, has made you feel unwelcome?
  6. “To live a feminist life is to live in very good company. I have placed these companion texts in my killjoy survival kit. I encourage you as a feminist reader to assemble your own kit” (Ahmed, 2017, p.17). Do you have any feminist companion texts? What would you include in your feminist “survival kit”?

Refer to the Google doc for more detail on running your Book Stack Session.

Our Reading Room conversationalists

Celeste Liddle and Janet McGaw

Celeste Liddle

Celeste is an Arrernte woman, writer, trade unionist and public speaker. Having first risen to prominence via her personal blog, Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, Liddle has written opinion and commentary for The Guardian, SBS-NITV, ABC, News LTD and others, and she has contributed chapters to anthologies such as Pan Macmillan’s Mothers and Others. Celeste Liddle has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in theatre and drama from La Trobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Arts (political sciences mainly) from the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Communications and Media Studies from Monash University. In May 2021, Celeste was announced as the Greens candidate for the inner northern Melbourne seat of Cooper for the next Federal election.

Janet McGaw

Janet is an Associate Professor in Architectural Design in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. She is a qualified architect and has a PhD by Creative Works from the University of Melbourne. Her research work, teaching and creative practice investigate ways to decolonize architecture and make urban space more equitable. Janet uses methods that are discursive, collaborative and sometimes ephemeral. She has worked with homeless women, researched graffiti art practices and Victorian Indigenous communities. She is currently Chief Investigator on an NHMRC (Million Minds Round) project that is exploring the benefits of Indigenous cultural creative practices on mental health and well-being. It develops earlier collaborative research on Indigenous placemaking in Melbourne developed in an ARC Linkage Grant (2010–2014).

Footnotes
  1. Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (Duke University Press, 2017), 7.