Contemporary Feminisms

FRN Upcoming event on Contemporary Feminism


Feminism is a term both feared and revered. Contemporary feminisms make bold and rebellious statements, as well as operate as commodified forms of empowerment. Subsequently, significant debates have emerged around which feminism is best and how we should theorise and practice feminisms. To address the eagerness for greater discussion and practical advice about feminisms and feminist activisms, we invite undergraduates, postgraduates, academics and members of the community to join us, including self-identified feminists and those who wish to learn more about feminisms. The panel includes feminists within and beyond the academy to consider the questions, “how should we do feminisms in the contemporary moment?” and “how can we practice feminism, and do feminist activism, in our everyday lives?” To allow for open discussion, this event will be equally split between panellist speakers and Q&A.

Panellists: Dr Bianca Fileborn (University of Melbourne), Dr Ika Willis (UOW), Sara Khan (UOW alumna and co-host of FBi Radio’s Race Matters), Olivia Todhunter (UOW alumna and co-founder of UOW FemSoc), and Grace Jennings (Illawarra Women’s Health Centre).

Chaired by Dr Rachel Loney-Howes (University of Wollongong)

Tuesday 15 October 2019 4:30pm – 6:00pm Building 67, Room 102 (67.102)


The Doing Feminisms roundtable offers a timely opportunity to reflect on the impact of recent feminist mobilisation and activism such as that seen in the #MeToo movement. This event subsequently provides an opportunity to launch the collected edition #MeToo and the Politics of Social Change, co-edited by Dr Bianca Fileborn (University of Melbourne) in collaboration with Dr Rachel Loney-Howes (University of Wollongong).

Hosted by Dr Lisa Slater (University of Wollongong) Co-sponsored by the School of Health and Society

Tuesday 15 October 2019 6:00pm – 7:00pm Building 67 Foyer

Please RSVP by 8 October 2019 for the roundtable and/or book launch at

For more information please contact Amy Boyle at

Decolonising Feminism Reading Group

Join us for the first Decolonising Feminism reading group on 20 August 3.30 – 4.30pm at the Research Lounge in the Research Hub. The readings that will be discussed are:

  • Mohanty. C (2013), ‘Transnational feminist crossing: on neoliberalism and radical critique’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 967-991
  • Lugones, M (2012), ‘Methodological notes towards a decolonial feminism’, in Decolonizing Epistemologies: Latina/o Theology and Philosophy, A.M. Isai Díaz, E. Mendieta, Fordham University, pp. 68-86.

Everyone is welcome!

If you have trouble locating the readings, please contact Dr Lisa Slater at

Trolling the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Roundtable

Trolling the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Roundtable
Thursday, 1 November 2018, 2pm-4pm
Room 2003, Building 19

Scholarship is not always warmly received. Where research is challenging to established arrangements (and sometimes, even when it is not), it can be misrepresented, treated as though it were offensive, and met with disdain and ridicule. This attitude can extend to students interested in such research and its social and political implications. Those conducting the research can find themselves subject to abuse and invective from both the mainstream press and vocal critics on social media – frequently in tandem. This is routinely referred to as trolling. Trolls and what they troll are indicative of how power works in public culture. This trolling directed to the humanities aligns with a number of political goals. These include normalising characterisations of academic culture as a kind of disconnected, ‘PC’ parallel universe, legitimising the defunding of public institutions, and ultimately, neutralising critique of the status quo. The costs of such trolling are commonly worn by individual academics. At this level trolling works as a strategy of silencing through shaming (particularly directed to women and visible minorities). Trolling thus involves an affective transfer, intensifying the emotional labour required of academics by channeling it in from the online domains where academics are expected to maintain profiles. This occurs in a professional context where impact and metrics are increasingly consequential, although the possibilities of entirely negative reactions to ‘knowledge transfer’ are seldom factored in to research evaluation.

This roundtable asks: What does all this mean for researchers and for research dissemination in the contemporary media landscape? How should universities support academics, and how can academics best support each other in engaging with this context?

Our speakers:

Andrew Whelan is a sociologist who has conducted research on internet subcultures and on the organisation of academic work.

Kate Bowles is a Twitter user, who will talk about academic Twitter in a time of “strident criticism” (A Jones, 2018).

Sukhmani Khorana is Senior Lecturer in Media and Culture at the University of Wollongong. Sukhmani has published extensively on diasporic cultures, multi-platform refugee narratives, and the politics of empathy.

Jet Hunt is a graduate of Wollongong University and former co-convenor of the Wollongong Feminist Society. They are currently a youth worker, and have worked extensively with young people around ethics and safety in online spaces. Jet is a settler on the stolen lands of the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharrawal nation.

This event is co-sponsored by CERN and FRN.

FRN Lunch Talk: 3 Things about the F-Word

FRN Lunch Talk: 3 Things about the F-Word
Reclaiming the F-Word in Academic Research

The F-Word – F for Feminism(s) is both everywhere and nowhere. From Beyoncé to Camp Cope, from #metoo to parliamentary debates on ‘proper’ sexual conduct in the Australian government, gender and sexual politics permeate much of today’s popular and political culture. In academia these may be framed as feminist questions or problems, while other researchers or policy makers may shy away from using the ‘killjoy’ F-word (see Sara Ahmed on this) to discuss issues of gender, sexual conduct, equality or inclusion.

We take this context as our starting point and in this session we ask: what are the challenges and possibilities for academics and researchers in using the F-word for research?

Join us to hear Dr Scarlet Wilcock, Dr Jordan Mckenzie and Dr Ika Willis as they reflect on their experiences undertaking feminist (inspired) research and navigating the academic environment in the past, present and foreseeable future.

The talk is aimed at HDRs and ECRs grappling with those questions and interested in using feminist ideas and language in their academic work

lha research hub (19.2072) 10 Sep 1230pm – 130pm

Lunch will be provided. Please click here to RSVP by 6 September if you would like to attend.


Join us at FRN’s Informal Planning Meeting 2018

The Feminist Research Network (FRN) is organising an informal planning meeting for Tuesday 28 August from 3.30 to 5.30 pm at LHA’s Research Hub (19.2072).

We would like to invite all FRN members and HDRs to a join us for a catch up session and to share any ideas about contributing to the FRN program, or events you would like to see FRN organise or run in the next 12 to 18 months.

As refreshments will be provided please RSVP (click here) by 24 August 2018 if you would like to attend.

If you are not able to attend but would like an update on the progress, please register your e-mail address by clicking here.

For more information, please contact Lisa at


Sara Ahmed Public Lecture

Sara Ahmed will be giving a public lecture at UOW on the 25th of October. The lecture is titled ‘Complaint as Diversity Work’ and will be of great interest to emotions researchers as well as those of us interested in topics such as gender, race and inequality. You can register for the event here. The event is co-sponsored by FRN, Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN) and Provocations.

The lecture explores how complaint can be understood as a form of diversity work, as what you have to do in order to make institutions more accommodating. Drawing on interviews with staff and students who have made complaints within universities (including complaints about racism, sexism, sexual harassment, and bullying) the lecture addresses the difficulty of making complaints and asks how and why complaints are often blocked. It explores how we learn about power from those who challenge power.

The CERN reading group will be hosting several meetings on Ahmed’s work in the weeks leading up to the event, and HDR students who attend these meetings will have the opportunity to meet with Ahmed in a special postgrad Q&A session. If you would like to participate in the reading group/Q&A, please email Jordan McKenzie ( to register your interest. 

Sara Ahmed is the author of 10 books including: Living a Feminist Life (2017), The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2014), Willful Subjects (2014), On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012), and The Promise of Happiness (2010). Up until the end of 2016, Sara was Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and prior to that she was based in Women’s Studies at Lancaster University.

Guest Lecture by Kim Akass – ‘Killers, Thieves, and Perverts: The Women of Went Worth Correction Centre’

Kim Akass (University of Hertfordeshire) will be presenting a Guest Lecture on ‘Killers, Thieves, and Perverts: The Women of Wentworth Correction Centre’ on 11 April 4.30 – 6.30pm at LHA Research Hub (19.2072), co-hosted by the Feminist Research Network (FRN) and Research Centre for Critical Creative Practice (C3P). Refreshments will be provided after the lecture.

The female prisoners in the iconic Australian drama Prisoner: Cell Block H (1979-86), and its contemporary reboot, Wentworth (2013-), clearly bear the scars of their familial history. Prison guard or inmate, Governor or top dog, the women’s narratives are indelibly and inextricably linked to the way they were parented, and their parenting skills. It should be no surprise that with women front and centre, the focus should be on the domestic. This paper will argue that both Prisoner and Wentworth offer hitherto unseen perspectives on female causes of crime, how female crimes are shaped by the family, and how maternity is central to the lives of these women, whether mothers or not.

Kim Akass  is a Senior Lecturer in Film and TV in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire.  She has co-edited and contributed to numerous collections focusing on feminism and contemporary television, including Reading Sex and the City (2004), Reading The L Word: Outing Contemporary Television (2006) and Quality TV: Contemporary American TV and Beyond (2007). She is co-founding editor of the television journal Critical Studies in Television (MUP), and is currently researching the representation of motherhood on television for forthcoming book From Here to Maternity: Representations of Motherhood in the Media.

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Report – FRN Mini-Writing Retreat for HDR Students

Report by Kai Ruo Soh
PhD Candidate, FRN HDR Steering Group Member

FRN ran a mini writing retreat for LHA HDR students, which also included a working lunch and informal discussion with academic mentors. Participants were provided time for unstructured writing and were then invited to have lunch and discuss any questions they had in regards to academic writing with academic mentors Dr Lisa Slater and Dr Sukhmani Khorana.


FRN Mini-Writing Retreat for HDR Students

FRN is running a mini writing retreat (at the research Hub) for HDRs on Monday 27th commencing at 10 am, followed by a  general meeting at 3.30pm  and FRN end of year refreshments at 4 pm.

Writing Retreat Outline

10 am to 12. 30pm  – Unstructured writing session.

12.30pm to 1.30pm – Working lunch and informal discussion with academic mentors (participants are asked to bring up an issue in regards to their writing for discussion)

1.30pm to 3.30pm – Unstructured writing session

Morning tea and lunch (including vegetarian and vegan food) will be provided.

3.30pm  FRN General Meeting

4 pm End of year refreshments


Report: 2017 FRN Symposium

First Nations Feminism
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member
The symposium started off with two very insightful talks by Marlene Longbottom from UOW and Evelyn Aralueun Corr from USYD. Marlene spoke about feminism in aboriginal culture through sharing her experiences as an indigenous feminist within her own community. Next, Evelyn discussed how although we are currently at the historical peak of feminist visibility, aboriginal women are being largely ignored when they speak out or take action against the impacts of colonialism in their communities. With her research, she aims to provide discussion in the academy and the broader national discourse on the efforts by aboriginal women.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh

Talk and Photo Exhibition
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member
Julia Martinez and Kate Bagnall presented an intriguing photo exhibition drawn from their forthcoming edited collection on Chinese women, gendered migration and their mobile lives between China and Australia. The exhibition included images of the Chinese Australian women, which was accompanied by their short biographical sketches.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh

HDRs Doing Feminist-Inspired Research
Report by Dylan Davis, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member/
As part of the Symposium, the FRN’s Higher Degree Research (HDR) Steering Group coordinated a panel session on ‘HDRs Doing Feminist-Inspired Research’. The event was designed to facilitate conversation among researchers at different stages of their research trajectories by allowing HDRs to do short presentations on how feminism has influenced their research and receive feedback and comments from invited respondents. Six HDRs – Samson Soulsby, Emma Bellino, Susannah Clement, Rachael Bolton, Nadia Al Esi and Dipali Mathur – presented from across a wide range of disciplines and topics including monster theory, nationality laws and interracial marriage, feminist geography, Australian masculinities, Arab women writers, and post-humanism. Each of the presenters then received feedback and suggestions from our invited respondents, Tanja Dreher (Associate Professor in Media at UNSW) and Linda Steele (Senior Lecturer in Law at UTS). Many thanks for our presenters who were able to raise some thought-provoking issues for feminist research in a very short space of time and to our respondents for their insights and generosity. Thanks also to Fabienne Else for facilitating the session.
Photo by: Ayesha Hasan, PhD Candidate

Public Event with Ellen van Neerven and Clementine Ford
Report by Samson Soulsby, PhD Candidate, LHA Postgraduate Representative
Following on from UOW’s “Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts” symposium, Ellen van Neerven and Clementine Ford, along with their host for the evening, Hayley Scrivener, spoke powerfully about their experiences as women/creators, sharing insights into their creative processes, their achievements and struggles, and their stories—particularly Heat and Light (Van Neerven, 2014) and Fight Like A Girl (Ford, 2016). Drawing on these personal experiences, Van Neerven and Ford discussed feminisms: the existence of, and the need for, a plurality of feminist perspectives, a kind of solidarity built on acknowledging the differences in women’s lives and the disparity in privileges awarded to them, and respecting the differing needs, goals, perspectives, knowledges, and conceptualisations of feminism that come from these different experiences.

A running theme throughout the evening—throughout the conversations of Indigenous Australian activism, the challenges of working through anxiety as a creator, the marriage equality debate, and the importance of support networks—was the voice, a continuous reflection on how we can all embed a feminist ethos into our interactions, especially on online platforms and in public conversations. In this era of ubiquitous social media, feminists—and especially feminists of privilege—are called first to listen and carefully consider when to share one’s own voice, and when it is more important to raise up the voices of others.

I thank Ellen, Clementine, and Hayley for sharing with us such a thought-provoking and enjoyable event, and extend my thanks to the Wollongong Writers Festival and UOW’s FRN for making it possible.

Photo by: Susannah Clement, PhD Candidate

Violence against Women and Violent Women
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate, FRN HDR Steering Group Member
This panel session focuses on the discussion on violence against women through three different contexts: through law, the workplace and media representation. Julia Quilter’s paper examines a sexual assault trial to demonstrate the reasons behind why women do not report sexual assaults, and how the justice system could work against female victims. Di Kelly’s presentation illustrated the factors behind why organisations largely ignore cases on work place bullying.  Di’s paper concluded with possible remediation and prevention of such issues dire to women employees, and also encouraged feminist scholars to turn their research to this topic. Last but not least, Renee Middlemost and Charlotte Allen explore how television shows such as Orange is the New Black and Wentworth are depicting the idea of feminism. Renee and Charlotte argue that there are issues behind these depictions as the shows represent the violent woman to be “strong” and a “feminist”.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Contesting Gendered Emotions – Sponsored by Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN)
Report by Sukhmani Khorana, Senior Lecturer, Online Coordinator FRN
On the second day of the FRN symposium, proceedings commenced with a panel on ‘Contesting Gendered Emotions’, co-sponsored by the Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN). This includes two invited speakers who were external to UOW – Dr Melissa Bellanta (ACU), and Dr Rebecca Olson (UQ), as well as CERN co-founder, Dr Roger Patulny. While Bellanta’s paper politicised masculine sentimentality in accounts of ‘larrikins’ in Australian colonial history, Olson looked at contemporary online media which facilitates male expression of emotion, albeit using context-specific vocabulary and gendered rules. Patulny’s presentation highlighted quantitative evidence that challenges normative ideas of gender-specific emotions in surveyed populations. This was followed by a screening of short films on the theme of intersectionality.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Intersectionality on Film
Report by Sukhmani Khorana, Senior Lecturer, Online Coordinator FRN

Two of the films were obtained with permission from the Singapore International Film Festival, and put a spotlight on the plight of Rohingya refugee children in the Asia-Pacific, and the coming of age of Thai school girls, respectively. The third film explored the issue of disability, especially as it intersects with women’s everyday lives. Karen Crowe, an HDR student at UOW, responded to the screening, and led a discussion with members of the audience on various aspects of intersectionality in practice. 

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Milk Culture: Feminist Resonances across Lives in the Dairy Industry
This panel presentation was themed based on the dairy industry in Australia and was presented by Deirdre Wicks from University of Newcastle, along with Melissa Boyd and Alison Moore. Deirdre began the panel by introducing the dairy industry through a historical and theoretical engagement of the ‘animal question’ Deirdre explores this by using a feminist lens to examine the benefits and perceived dangers for women associating their interest with animals. Next, Melissa discussed the importance of animal ethics in the dairy industry through three short stories, based on Melissa’s personal experiences. Last but not least, Alison presented a text-analytic study of the dairy culture and its promotion in Australia. Alison’s paper also examines the gender representation of these promotional collaterals and argues that women are targeted as both gatekeepers to family consumption and as consumers with special nutritional needs in different reproductive lifestyle.


Roundtable: Feminist Interventions/Impacts: A Multidisciplinary Approach
The roundtable featured LHA’s feminist researcher, Esther Alloun, Vera Mcakie, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, Lisa Slater and Ika Willis. The roundtable consisted of a discussion on how feminism has impacted their research area, along with the growth and support FRN has provided to various HDRs and Academics over the years.