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Race, religion and Michelle Obama’s arms – Gender Week takes on the big issues

By Anette Lien Nov 22, 2014
Rex Features

Have you ever wondered what Michelle Obama’s arms have to do with fashion and race, or what the gay best friend and the gender of cocktails might entail?

These are just two of the lively topics of talks due to take place during KU’s upcoming Gender Week (November 24 – 28), hosted by the KU School of Psychology, Criminology and Sociology. It is open to everyone and students can register here.

“This is the first time we are arranging something like this at Kingston, and we wanted to make sure we could engage students in a new way,” said Evanthia Lyons, Gender Week organiser. “Gender is important to our everyday life in terms of identity, and it’s also a very topical issue.”

The KU Gender Week is linked with the 16 days of activism that is happening around the country against gender-based violence. With Emma Watson championing the #heforshe campaign, youth feminism has emerged as a central issue lately in the media.

Cecilia Cappel, who will be speaking at the event, said: “Some of our students, and especially young female students, look at how feminism is portrayed in the media and wonder what it really means for them in today’s society.

“I think this could open up for good debates and discussions.”

The seminars will feature keynote talks from Aneeta Prem of the Freedom Charity about gender abuse and Detective Superintendent Angela Scott, who will discuss what it is like to work in a male-dominated professional field.

Other highlights of the week include “Does my bum look big in this? Black Women and Beauty Ideals”, a talk by Katherine Appleford and Cecilia Cappel, and “This is what a feminist look like: Analysis of a Feminist Appearance”, a talk by Joyce Heckman.

“One of the talks I would recommend is ‘Are Religions Anti-Woman?’ in which we have a panel of students from different faith societies who will discuss and debate this issue,” Lyons said. “I’m excited to see what the conclusion will be.”

Lyons stresses that the event concerns and appeals to men as well, and will include talks such as: “Kissing, Cuddling and Loving: Straight Male Undergraduates on a Normal Wednesday Night” and “Tooling Up: Men, Guns and Masculinity.”

The week will end with a photography competition on Friday where students are asked to submit pictures that capture an element of what it is like to be a man or a woman in today’s society.

Click here to see the full programme.


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