On Wednesday, March 25, women and allies gathered despite the rain, at Heartwood Community Café, to hear speakers chat about women's representation in media, and create media engagement tools. This was the first in the #fiercevoices women and media series, organized by rabble.ca and Women Transforming Cities (WTC).
The evening was kicked off by founder and editor of gender-focus.com, Jarrah Hodge, as well as popular radio personality and writer, Jen Sookfong Lee. They both spoke of their personal experiences as women involved in media in various capacities. They also provided an overall analysis of female representation.
Hodge elaborated on media double standards facing women, including female politicians, and the need for media consumers to hold those with power accountable. Lee spoke about the realities for a young female literary writer of colour, and the marginalization and stereotyping facing Asian female writers.
After both speakers had finished, #fiercevoices attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and the floor was opened up for group discussion on the issues and analysis brought up during the speakers' period. Following this, the space was arranged for various activities, designed to help critically consume media and provide an outlet for media activists to share their voices. These activities included re-working oppressive and problematic news headlines, and creating #fiercevoices stickers with messages to place in magazines and in public places where feminist voices and criticism is nil.
The #fiercevoices series was created after a discussion between folks at rabble.ca and WTC about the need to see more women accurately represented in media as well as involved in media production. The series aims to highlight and build space, especially for marginalized voices and those silenced by mainstream media. A major component of this is building capacity and skills for women and girls to take up space in media and form an accessible movement, far beyond the capacity of both organizations.
Though the #fiercevoices concept and organizing efforts will continue well into the future, next on the horizon is a similar interactive speakers and workshop event on April 30 (location to be announced shortly). On May 23, the series will culminate in a keynote event at the SFU Wosk Centre, with a focus on young women and media, featuring a media panel and small info fair.
Stay tuned for more details and for opportunities to raise your #fiercevoice! And in the meantime, join the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #fiercevoices or email tania[at]rabble.ca to get involved!
Photos 2-3: Erika Sommerville
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