By: Suzany Manimaran
On one side of the room, people gazed at the wall of vibrant artwork, taking in the intricate line art drawings and detailed paintings. On the other, performers were shaking off their nerves as they waited for the show to open, preparing to share their reflections on “the f word”.
She’s the First McMaster titled their second annual The F******* Word arts showcase, referencing the stigma associated with “feminism”.
All proceeds raised by the feminist arts showcase went towards the non-profit organization, She’s the First, which focuses on fighting global gender inequality through education.
STF President and fourth year student Barkhaa Talat leads the McMaster chapter of the New York-based organization.
“All donations [that we raise] goes to girls in low income countries, [allowing them to] gain an education, give them scholarships, clothing, shelter, a nutritious diet, and all of it is done through local organizations,” said Talat.
“Feminism is given a bad name, there’s a lot of misinterpret-ation.”
She’s The First McMaster
Currently, STF works to provide scholarships and facilities to girls in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Guatemala, Peru, India and Nepal.
“The showcase focused primarily on two things: the first was to raise donations… the second reason was to showcase local artists from Hamilton and the GTA to give them a free platform to showcase their talent. We contacted local artists throughout the Art Gallery of Hamilton and McMaster Students,” explained Talat.
“Artists showcased their art for free, there was also a silent auction. It was dedicated to the talent within the [McMaster] community, and learning about gender equality through art and performances.”
The artwork and the performances of the night were varied in their mediums and styles. From original and cover songs, to spoken word, to visual art pieces that were displayed all around the room.
Musicians performed songs like Sia’s “Titanium” and Colbie Caillat’s “Try” along with original songs that were also focused around the themes of female empowerment, body positivity and vulnerability.
“I really enjoyed planning it, contacting the artists and performers, there wasn’t really any selection process. We made sure it was appropriate [and] it was showcased if it was approved. [The] older artists that contributed their pieces hadn’t heard about anything like this and [they] encouraged us to [keep] doing these kinds of events,” explained Talat.
“It’s important to have these kinds of conversations because of our age group, there’s an interest towards it on social media, but it’s not really talked about. Feminism is given a bad name, there’s a lot of misinterpretation. People are often standoffish, they want to know what about the boys who need education too,” said Talat.
“[Our focus is on] making it important that [both] are disadvantaged but inequality for women, especially in low income countries, is much more prevalent.”
She’s The First McMaster facilitates this discussion on campus through art, music, and creative expression.
As the fight for gender equality continues to be stigmatized and misinterpreted, it’s important to allow for discussion and artistic expression that highlights that it is, at its core, a fight for equality.