‘Ain’t I a woman?’: Southern Cross to debate feminism on International Women’s Day

Published 5 March 2018
'Riots of Passage' by Rosanna Pimms, a Southern Cross University arts Honours student.

Southern Cross University academics and graduates will put women, feminism and gender under the microscope on International Women’s Day this week, Thursday March 8, as they discuss the provocation, ‘Ain’t I a woman? Am I or am I not a feminist?’ at the Lismore Regional Gallery.

Meanwhile, arts Honours student Rosanna Pimm will unveil ‘Riots of Passage’, a six-hour performance installation exploring the taboo topic of menstruation. It’s the first event in the Plein Air open-air residency program at The Lismore Quadrangle.

Associate Professor Adele Wessell, Director of Community Engagement in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, said ‘Ain’t I a woman?’ was a question posed by former African-American slave Sojourner Truth at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Ohio.

“The question still stands in terms of what women are capable of, what equality means and who is included or excluded in the debates that continue about the meaning of women’s rights,” said Dr Wessell, who will chair the panel discussion.

Dr Wessell first identified as a feminist when she was 12-years-old and as the University’s food historian believes that ‘cooking and feeding can be a feminist act’.

“The provocation is intended to provoke conversation on what feminism means in 2018, particularly in the context of the diversity of experience, different meanings of feminism and debate about its relationship to gender and gender diversity,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to a lively discussion with a panel comprised of a diversity of backgrounds and insights.”

Meet the panelists:

Rory Banwell, a media student at Southern Cross University, is a freelance photographer and digital content producer who started the ‘Still Not Asking For It’ project. She works around body image, Photoshop, healthy sexual relationships, consent, sex education and everything in between.

Dr Stephen Garrett, course coordinator of the University’s Bachelor of Art and Design at Southern Cross, creates interdisciplinary artwork in video, sculpture, photography and installations, challenging viewers with an unconventional approach for interpreting the world, by intervening, expanding and re-framing the history of site and place.

Paige Phoenix is a communications and human relations specialist with a postgraduate qualification in psychotherapy who came out as a transgender man on The X Factor in 2011. He has had a role in personal and political activism in relation to gender ever since.

Marcelle Townsend-Cross is a mixed heritage First Australian woman of Biripi, Worimi and Irish decent and an established singer/songwriter with a passion for teaching about social justice and social change.

Both Paige (social science) and Marcelle (arts) are alumni of Southern Cross University.

Inspired by both personal health and recent travels, Rosanna Pimm’s ‘Riots of Passage’ documents the links between menstrual shame, poor education and a continual cycle of poverty for women in India. More broadly, her project intends to facilitate dialogue around feminine sexuality, equality and shame present within our own society and how we, together, can continue to create change.


Event details

‘Ain’t I a woman? Am I or am I not a feminist?’

Thursday, March 8 from 6-7pm in the Lismore Regional Gallery event space

Afterward, DJ Platypus (osteopathy student Danielle Macleod) from 7pm - 8pm.

Slate café open from 5pm for food and drinks.

Free event. Capacity limited.

This Thursday Night Live! event is part of the Lismore Women’s Festival.


‘Riots of Passage’

Thursday, March 8 from 3-9pm in The Quad, 11 Rural Street, Lismore

Free event.


Thursday Night Live!

Presented by Lismore Regional Gallery and Southern Cross University, Thursday Night Live! is a new ongoing talks program that puts thought-provoking and big ideas in the spotlight. It’s held at the Gallery’s event space on the second Thursday of each month.


Plein Air

Plein Air is an open-air residency model that invites companies and individuals to experiment in The Quad. The residency invites cross-discipline exploration across all arts forms and industries and encourages ideas to be tested in a public space. More events will be held throughout the year.


The Quad

The Lismore Quadrangle – The Quad - is the heart of this vibrant and creative city. The Quad greenspace connects Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore City Library, the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and the Social Futures Clubhouse. The activation of The Quad is a strategic partnership between Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council.

Photo: Rosanna Pimms

Media contact: Sharlene King 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349