Today, Wednesday March 8, is International Women’s Day. To celebrate women and the feminist movement, Trinity’s Global Room held a screening of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s influential TEDx Talk “We Should All Be Feminists”, followed by a short panel discussion.
Chiamamanda is a renowned Nigerian author whose books have been translated into several different languages for readers around the world. In her TEDx Talk, she speaks about when she was first labelled as a feminist at age 14, and how from that point onwards became more aware of the female oppression she was unknowingly taught to accept during her childhood. She spoke about how, despite achieving the best results in her class, she was not allowed to be the class monitor because she was not a boy; one of many examples of discrimination she has faced because she is female.
It’s easy to see why this TEDx Talk has become so influential – Chiamamanda is eloquent, well spoken, and peppers her talk with humorous personal anecdotes. She also comes out with incredibly quotable feminist statements: “[for women] the language of marriage is often a language of ownership rather than a language of partnership” and “the problem with gender is that it prescribes who we should be rather than represent who we are”. Her arguments in favour of being a feminist are utterly irrefutable, and provoked murmurs of agreement and admiration from the students in the Global Room.
Following the screening, a short panel session was held with three leading feminists: Ivana Bacik, Irish politician and author, Melissa Sihra, Assistant Professor of Drama at Trinity College, and Professor Eileen Drew, who has taught in the School of Computer Science and Statistics as well as the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies at Trinity College.
Sihra praised Chiamamanda’s talk, noting that it was effective due to the emphasis on childhood and the need to challenge the gender narratives we are exposed to in our youth. Sihra is calling on the government for a criminal investigation into the abuse of single women and their children over the last 40 years in Ireland. Drew confessed that, having seen the title of Chiamamanda’s book ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ in Hodges Figgis, she immediately read it from cover to cover before buying two copies for her daughters. She praised Chiamamanda as a fantastic feminist role model, a figure she did not have during her own childhood and adolescence. Bacik was also impressed by the talk, saying that Chiamamanda had reclaimed the meaning of ‘feminist’ to extinguish the negative connotations historically associated with the word.
Bacik, who served as a moderator during the discussion, took questions from the audience, which dealt with the progress of feminism on a global scale and the ability of students to contribute to the movement. The panellists said that feminism is moving at a different rate across the world, due to differences in culture and state conservatism/liberalism, but that in general we are heading in the right direction. They also encouraged that the best way for students to become involved is to read as much as they can about feminism, become activists, and then challenge their social circles with their newfound knowledge.
The Global Room’s screening and panel talk was a great success, and left me feeling motivated to get out and do whatever I can to further the feminist movement. Due to such high demand, this event is being repeated on Friday March 10 at 1pm. Though tickets on Eventbrite (which were free) are currently sold out, keep an eye out to see if any more pop up over the next two days. Overall, this event was the perfect way to celebrate feminism on International Women’s Day, and left a very positive and lasting impression.