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Understanding the history of feminism: An evening class with Dr Hannah Daws...

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The Guardian

Kings Place

90 York Way

London, United Kingdom

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Learn about the “four waves” of feminism, explore writings by key thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine Greer, and get to grips with the big ideas of the feminist movement 

We’re now on the fourth wave of feminism, but how far have we come? In the UK, women are still paid less than men, and often do the lion’s share of childcare. Girls’ clothes and toys are differentiated from boys’ like never before, and there’s even the need for a political party, the Women’s Equality Party, to campaign against basic inequalities between the sexes.

Come along to this evening class with historian of ideas Dr Hannah Dawson and you’ll get an intellectual grounding on the hot topic of feminism. The class begins with a lecture exploring the “four waves” of the feminist movement – from the first wave, where the suffragettes fought for the right to vote, to the second, when the personal became political, to the third, when femininity was reasserted and ‘choice’ championed, through to the present-day, a digital symphony of diverse voices.

Along the way, you’ll explore ideas by some of the great figures of the movement, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, bell hooks and Germaine Greer. Throughout the class, the past will be used to reflect upon the pressing concerns of the present, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities for discussion and Q&A. By the end of the evening, you’ll have a fresh perspective on the key historical and contemporary issues surrounding feminism, enabling you to contribute to gender-themed debates with more confidence.               

Some of the key questions explored during the class…

  • Are there any essential differences between men and women, or is gender just a construction?
  • Has the liberation of women in fact only pulled the chains more tightly around them?
  • Do women really choose to wear high heels, do the majority of domestic work, and shy away from the top jobs - or is choice just a delusion?
  • Why is there need for a political party, the Women’s Equality Party, to campaign against the basic inequalities between the sexes at work and home, in the media and on the streets?
  • Is feminism the privileged preserve of a few white, middle-class Western women, and therefore a failure?
  • Is feminism a movement just for the liberation of women, or of men, too?
  • How can feminism work to free us all from the stereotypes that shackle us?

The class emphasises that there are no straightforward answers to these questions – it’s open to all, and aims to foster free, inclusive debate


More about your teacher… 

Hannah Dawson is a historian of ideas, and a lecturer in the history of political thought at King’s College London. She received her PhD in history from the University of Cambridge, and is the author of books including Life Lessons from Hobbes. Hannah contributes frequently to live and broadcast media, including BBC4, BBC Radio 4, TEDx and Guardian Live, and writes for publications such as The Times Literary Supplement (TLS) and Prospect. She tweets @DrHannahDawson.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

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The Guardian

Kings Place

90 York Way

London, United Kingdom

View Map

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