What’s so Punk about #FEAS? Protesting sexism through the ugly, visual symbols, and communication

Year: 2018

Author: Blaise, Mindy, Knight, Linda, Gray, Emily

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper is a performative protest against academic sexism. It draws from the participatory arts-based project that produced the international feminist collective, Feminist Educators Against Sexism (#FEAS). Two years ago #FEAS began performing a series of ‘pop-up’ interventions at educational conferences, such as AARE and Gender and Education. Through the use of humour, irreverence, and empirical ‘facts’, these interventions protested the complex and competing forces of everyday academic sexisms that play out in higher education.
Because we are currently living in a hyper conservative politics, and, just like the punk movement set out to challenge the conservative politics of the 1970’s, we argue that the ethos of feminist punk is still present and an important mode to mobilize and connect feminists. By bringing together a series of personal feminist punk memories, research about feminist punk practices, and #FEAS pop-up interventions, we show how a feminist Do It Yourself (DIY) ethos is alive and necessary for protesting academic sexism in the present. The paper examines how #FEAS mobilized three feminist punk practices (the ugly, visual symbols, communication) to develop and employ the tactics so effectively used by young protesters in the past, to irreverently respond to the working lives of many academics today.  The paper concludes by discussing the potentials and limitations of a feminist punk Do It Yourself (DIY) ethos for both protesting sexism and generating a much-needed feminist collective.