The fest rides a wave of recent feminist activism, including the Women's March New Orleans (pictured).
At Loyola University's Feminist Festival, 11 days of events — including panel discussions, workshops and a dance performance by Melange Dance company depicting the so-called waves of feminism — celebrate the oft-misunderstood women's advocacy movement.
"There's been such an effort by anti-feminists to marginalize [feminists] as man-haters or 'feminazis' and so forth, when really all feminists want is gender equality," Patricia Boyett, Loyola Women's Resource Center director, explains.
Boyett started the fest after being hired at Loyola last year and quickly found support from other academic departments and an enthusiastic, social justice-minded student body. Highlights from the second annual festival include a feminist concert with Tank & the Bangas, talks by women who work behind the scenes in the music and recording industry and a panel on International Women's Day (March 8) discussing how women survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo work with NGOs.
Most events at the fest are free and open to the public, but one workshop, which is exclusively for Loyola and Tulane students, seems particularly timely. At that workshop, students will learn the basics of running for office — an essential skill in a contemporary political environment women's advocates mostly condemn
Boyett thinks the current cultural milieu, including the heavily-attended Women's March events inauguration weekend, has helped spotlight the fest and feminism in general.
"Some of the political climate lately ... I think it's brought a lot a lot of attention to the fact that we're really not in a gender-equality society," she says.
A complete list of festival events
is available online.