So, you’ve heard of the UEA Feminism Society and you’re a bit confused. What does a Feminism Society even do? What’s the point? Is it just a bunch of women getting together to moan about men? Are you wondering if we’re going to hate you if you can’t reel off a complete history of feminism?
Basically, feminism societies act as informal spaces for feminists (and those who maybe aren’t sure if they’re feminists but really want to find out more) to meet and talk about feminism. They can often act as a space to vent – universities tend to be a hotbed for laddish banter and it can be incredibly frustrating to be surrounded by people that just don’t think the way you do. Just like with any university society or club, it exists as a place for you to meet people with similar interests. That’s what is so great about the society system that exists at university; you go into it knowing that you have at least one thing in common with everyone else in the room, and when you’re just settling into university that can be incredibly comforting. For me, joining the Feminism Society in my second semester of first year was a great way to meet people who don’t laugh at rape jokes. Getting drunk with feminists is probably in my top ten favourite activities.
As well as being great ways to make friends, feminism societies can also be incredibly educational. Say you don’t really know what makes gender roles a feminist issue – do you want to try to read a load of Judith Butler and subsequently give up on reading altogether, or go to a feminism society meeting and ask about it instead? Sometimes, learning from your peers is the best, most accessible and most enjoyable way to get your head around complex issues. Lots of feminism societies (UEAFS included) also run book groups that offer an excellent platform for getting your hands on feminist literature (especially if you’ve really no idea where to start).
Feminism societies are also a great way to get involved in political activity in the university sphere, especially if you don’t particularly fancy joining a political party-specific society. We frequently run campaigns and engage in local activism. UEAFS was the first UK university to do ‘Who Needs Feminism’ – a campaign that gained incredible momentum in the UK afterwards. You might’ve seen pictures of Oxford’s widely publicised attempt but I promise we did it first.
UEAFS’s twice weekly discussion groups enable us to gain different perspectives on that week’s topic; because university students come from all walks of life it’s a great way to find out how feminism interacts with race, class, and sexuality. At UEAFS, we’re all about intersectionality; we just want to know how feminism interacts with your life and the more voices contributing to that conversation the better!