We all know that feeling of excitement when a prof pulls up a Ted Talk to show in class — not only do they make lectures go by faster, but they are always inherently interesting and make us feel more informed about any subject after watching them. I recently made the goal for myself to watch one Ted Talk every morning while eating breakfast instead of playing around and wasting time on my phone. I’ve come across some incredible talks, and wanted to specifically draw attention to the talks I’ve watched concerning feminism. As a feminist myself, I found these talks to be extremely well done. They have also provoked some interesting conversations with my friends. Here are, in my opinion, some of the best ones I’ve seen so far (note: click on the title to go to the talk!):
1. Roxane Gay: Confessions of a bad feminist
Roxane Gay touches on themes from her book Bad Feminist in which she challenges the common connotations associated with the word “feminism” (i.e. man-hating, unshaven, angry women — “as if those were bad things,” as she says) into a more intersectional term, one that includes women of all colours, sexual orientations, and body types. Gay also addresses the ways in which she herself is a “bad feminist,” claiming she is “full of contradictions” and further argues that these “imperfections” actually drive a more inclusive feminism, rejecting the mainstream definition. In this talk, Gay empowers women to be feminists in any way that they can, and to embrace the term instead of shying away from it.
2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We should all be feminists
Mobilized by her feature in Beyoncé’s song ***Flawless, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche stresses the importance of feminism despite the traditionally negative connotations with the word. Touching on similar ideas as Roxane Gay, Adiche highlights the ways in which the term “feminist” is put in a bad light, as well as the ways in which there are certain gender norms that are expected by individuals, even in little ways such as when women say “thank you” to their husbands after an expected task like changing their child’s diaper. This talk addresses the unlearning of gender norms in order to move towards a more accepting and pro-feminist culture.
3. Tavi Gevinson: A teen just trying to figure it out
In this talk, high school sophomore Tavi Gevinson discusses the ways in which females are often portrayed in the film industry and its effect on women in real life, especially teenagers. There are not many accurate portrayals of teenagers on TV right now, and Gevinson’s solution for this was to create her own space, rookiemag.com, where girls can come together and be represented in a way that is not one-dimensional (as is often seen in films)— where flaws can be embraced, and advice can be given.
4. Michael Kimmel: Why gender equality is good for everyone — men included
Michael Kimmel uses humour to highlight the ways in which men react to the concept of gender equality, such as it being detrimental to their own position in society. He explains the ways in which women and men are treated differently in the workplace; how men mansplain things, and how ultimately, men (especially white, middle-class men, as he himself admits to being) have privilege and a sense of entitlement that is often invisible to themselves, one that needs to be made aware of so that they can become sensitive to gender differences and ultimately support the objective of gender equality. Finally, Kimmel touches on how this gender equality is a benefit for all of society.
5. Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee talks about personal stories she has seen unfold concerning the mistreatment of young girls and women in Northern Iberia, where she worked as a research assistant. This gendered mistreatment is one that she hopes to combat by spreading her word and inspiring people to advocate for young women who cannot advocate for themselves. She inspires young women to hold on to their hope as a driving force to move them forward.
Did these grab your interest? Check out even more interesting talks here.
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