Rethinking Critical Femininities: Feeling, Feminist Practice, and Beyond   

In recent times, both feminisms and femininities have taken on spectacular forms within what Banet-Weiser (2018) terms a broader ‘economy of visibility’. Many have questioned what transformations, possibilities, and consequences feminine visibilities indicate in relation to feminism, as feminist aims, boundaries and intentions have become increasingly nebulous. While there have been apparent changes in the way gender is represented in the media, discourses surrounding this often draw on neoliberal notions of ‘choice’ to defend particular gender styles. In scholarship, these debates have often been conceptually framed in terms of postfeminism, positing a particular relation between feminine and feminist visibility.

But in presuming these relations, how adequately have we addressed the question of femininities, beyond questions of lack and subordination (Dahl, 2012)? In the contemporary neoliberal landscape, do femininities signify normative ideals? Typologies? A set of relations (to masculinity/(re)production/ capitalism)? Can we rethink femininities critically, beyond postfeminism, or in different queer ways? As Dahl and Sundén (2018) suggest, ‘Critical femininity studies can also do the work of imagining femininity otherwise’.

This symposium aims to push beyond the diagnosis of femininities in terms of neoliberal individuality, to attend critically to assemblages of transformations in everyday practices, embodiments, and affects of femininities. What femininities arise in relation to contemporary feminist contexts, and what are the shifting relationships between femininities and feminist practice today?

This one-day symposium will take place on 13 September 2019, at the University of Melbourne, Parkville campus. The aim of this event will be to develop a critical femininity studies network in the region, with a special issue to follow the symposium.

Dr Amy Dobson (Curtin University) will be presenting a keynote session titled Critical femininities, popular rage, and playfully-seriously imagining human and non-human lives otherwise. Amy’s keynote is planned to take place the evening before the symposium, at 6pm on Thursday 12 September at the University of Melbourne. This will be followed by drinks and dinner, so please keep the evening of 12 September free! Details will be provided closer to the date.

Please click here to register.

Organised by Dr Hannah McCann (University of Melbourne), Dr Kythera Watson-Bonnice (Swinburne University), and Dr Akane Kanai (Monash University), the symposium is sponsored by the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) and The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Genders and Sexualities Thematic Group, with support from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. For more information please contact criticalfemininitiesnetwork@gmail.com or visit https://criticalfemininities.squarespace.com.