Cambridge Literary Festival: Women on the March

The Women's March on Washington broke the record for the single biggest day of protests in US history. At Cambridge Literary Festival the panel discussed the importance of feminism and protest in contemporary politics.

Cambridge Literary Festival: Women on the March

This event was originally meant to feature Catherine Meyer and Labour MP Jess Philips, however due to the snap election announcement, Philips has been whisked off on the campaign trail, and so in her place was activist Nimko Ali.

However, in discussing the importance of women's issues in politics it was no less an interesting discussion. Catherine Meyer started the Women's Equality Party to put pressure on the main parties and prove that equality is still a vote winner. Since its inception in 2017 it has had many successes however, Meyer says there is still work to do, namely to bring men on board and getting them to understand it is for them too.

So is it important that this party is non-partisan? Absolutely, Ali answers, as women's issues apply to females of any politics. Her main work has been to campaign about FGM, even getting David Cameron to speak up about this when he was Prime Minister. For Ali, FGM is important as it is specifically female focused violence - you are only at risk if you are female. This opens up a wider concern with how we talk about women's bodies in the political sphere and media - or more importantly how we don't. The main question is are we becoming uncomfortable about discussing biology because we fear we may reduce women to it? However both Ali and Meyer believe talking about women's anatomy is important, to increase awareness and make people comfortable talking about it, where as currently women's bodies seem to be 'unspeakable'.

The conversation ranged across connected topics, for example sex work, pornography, page 3 and a number of related issues all of which were looking at the importance at having open discussion and debate. They seek not to stamp out and oppress these issues, but to create more constructive, safer and freer environments which women can express themselves in.

Is Feminism too radical? Meyer suggests that regardless, it is necessary now, more than it ever has been. For Ali we need to get more radical and bring more attention to these issues, instead of spending time talking about the issues misogyny wants us to talk about.

This was a really interesting event looking at the importance of feminism in contemporary politics, and while it is clear that as a huge movement feminism is diverse, full of different opinion and often conflicts, it is heartening to see that there are women fighting for action and political progress, and inspiring others to do the same.


Ellen Orange

Ellen Orange Contributor

I am a 24 year old Marketing Officer from the North East with a passion for arts and writing. I did a BA in English Literature and an MA in Twentieth and Twenty First Century Literature at Durham University, because I love books and reading! I have experience in writing for a variety of student publications, as well as having contributed to Living North, a regional magazine and Culture magazine, a supplement to regional newspaper, The Journal. I have been part of a Young Journalists scheme writing for NewcastleGateshead's Juice Festival, a young people's arts and culture festival, and have since become a Team Juice member. As well as reading and writing, I love theatre, photography and crafts.

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  • Luke Taylor

    On 25 April 2017, 10:12 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    Feminism is certainly a controversial topic. Read more here:

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