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University of Edinburgh Feminist Society launches new interview series: ‘Is this what a feminist sounds like?’

The University of Edinburgh Feminist Society (FemSoc) have launched a series of blog posts on the theme ‘Is this what a feminist sounds like?’. 

The series involves interviewing women from a range of professions and backgrounds, in order to explore and challenge traditional views of feminism.

The series began in November 2021 and will continue for the rest of the academic year. 

Past guests include Megan Barton-Hanson, who appeared on the reality show Love Island in 2018; Julie Hasmondhalgh, an activist and BAFTA nominated actor; and Sharmmi Jeganmogan, a business consultant and candidate in Croydon’s council election this May. 

The next interview to take place is with Donna Hall, the Chief Executive of Wigan Council, and is due to be released on February 30.

The theme, ‘Is this what a feminist sounds like?’ was inspired by a 2014 campaign by the Fawcett Society, a charity set up to campaign for women’s rights. 

Various celebrities and politicians wore t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ to diversify the notion of who can be a feminist.

The Student spoke to Amy Norton, FemSoc’s blog coordinator, about why it was a valuable message to reproduce:

“People were sharing that feminism comes in all different shapes and sizes, and that everybody and anybody can be a feminist.

 “[Feminism] doesn’t fit into a box, it is intersectional.”

She added:

“Older, more traditional types of feminists might not agree Megan Barton-Hanson – but she is a feminist, and it’s a big part of her life.

“It’s about keeping that debate going: ‘Is this what [feminism] sounds like?’ – yes, it sounds like lots of different things.”

Amy selected women in a range of careers to hear about how injustice persists throughout the job market. She said:

“People argue that women are equal to men in society, that it’s not a thing we need to talk about anymore.  

“But the older I get, the more I realise that it affects us all. 

“[The guests] all have stories of being put down for being a woman, whether it be in acting, or being the only woman in a business meeting and nobody’s listening.”

Amy hopes that the interviews will encourage other women to pursue such careers, in spite of the challenges that are highlighted.

“I think it’s interesting for people who may want to go into a certain career to hear from these women – to hear their struggles, but also to hear their achievements and how they’ve managed to get there.”

Iona, a photography student at the University of Edinburgh, told The Student that she would benefit from reading about the experiences of women in the profession. She said: 

“The university does quite a good job of demonstrating different role models, there is still an obvious imbalance between men who dominate the industry versus women.”

Issy, also a student at the University of Edinburgh, is the co-leader of Sanitree, a social enterprise tackling period poverty in Edinburgh and Jaipur.

Speaking to The Student, she said:

“Projects like this, through their honesty and diversity, are helping to represent what modern intersectional feminism needs to be.”

Kat, an English Literature student, supported university societies stepping in to amplify under-represented groups. Speaking about her experience of studying English Literature, she said: 

“A lot of the writers we look at are men. I understand that this was always going to be the case, because so much of the literary canon is defined by men writers. 

“But it feels like there hasn’t been as much of an effort in looking into the work of women writers.”

‘Is this what a feminist sounds like?’ can be found on the University of Edinburgh FemSoc website, with new releases twice a month.

Image credit: Amy Norton, FemSoc