Wider World is a series of lunchtime talks for older girls in the Senior School designed to expand their horizons beyond the curriculum, challenge their thinking and enrich their knowledge and understanding of the world. Speakers from a range of different disciplines and sectors are invited in to talk to all the girls regardless of the GCSE or A Level subjects that they have selected. In recent times, we have had politicians, museum curators, writers, actors, poets, lawyers and representatives of charities in to speak to the girls.
Spring Term 2017 speakers have included Everyday Sexism Project founder, Laura Bates, Autograph ABP curator, Renee Mussai, former England Cricketer, Lydia Greenway, Atheist UK representative, Norman Bacrac, and historian, author and broadcaster Dr Suzannah Lipscomb.
Events Prefect, Catherine Suleiman has been documenting the speaker’s throughout term, sharing what girls are learning through this series.
Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism: the challenges facing young women and men
The Everyday Sexism Project is a website which was founded in 2012 by Laura Bates, a British feminist writer. The aim of the site is to document examples of sexism from around the world. “Again and again, people told me sexism is no longer a problem – that women are equal now, more or less, and if you can’t take a joke or take a compliment, then you need to stop being so ‘frigid’ and get a sense of humour”. Without a doubt, sexism is not an easy topic to confront or debate.
What is definite is that the position of women has transformed remarkably over the last 100 years. For example, let us remind ourselves that although Britain has only experienced two female Prime Ministers, and before 1918, women were completely devoid of any political influence. Moreover, considering America’s recent presidential elections saw Hilary Clinton win over 2.5 million votes over Donald Trump by the electorate, and still not elected President, surely none of us doubt the fact that women are just as capable to run a country as a man would be. Nevertheless, what Laura urged me to question was why it is there is an ever-increasing sexualisation and objectification of women in modern media, when we all are quite aware that this subconsciously cultivates, in our society, the idea that a woman’s worth is measured by her appearance and sexual appeal.
Renée Mussai – Exploring Cultural Identity
Like Oscar Wilde, Renée Mussai, Curator and Head of Archive at Autograph ABP, too launched what was a truly uplifting discussion on cultural identity and thus, inescapably, the art and beauty of individualism. Autograph ABP, is an arts charity that works internationally in photography and film, addressing themes of cultural identity, race, representation and human rights. Over the last ten years it has built up what is simply a fascinating collection of over 5,000 prints, slides and ephemera dedicated to culturally diverse photography. Some of these include the rarely seen portraits of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a West African of Yoruba royalty who was orphaned in intertribal warfare, sold into slavery, and in a remarkable twist of events, was liberated from enslavement and became a goddaughter to Queen Victoria. Renée also presented us with some works by Raphael Albert, a photographer whom during the 1960s-1990s organised and documented a series of ‘Miss Black and Beautiful’ beauty pageants. ‘Imbued with an exquisite, revolutionary sensuality and a certain joie de vivre, Albert’s photographs embody an aura of hedonistic confidence in a new generation of black women coming of age in Britain during the 1970s, fuelled by complex cultural politics of identity, difference and desire.’ – Renée Mussai.
Renée explained how one’s cultural identity is not a fixed form or certitude rather; it is a fluid concept and sentimentality that can change and transform with time and under varying circumstances.