The Fitzroy High School Feminist Collective began in 2013. It started with a ‘Book Club’ elective class, where a student discussion about the violence visited upon a nameless woman in the text ‘Of Mice and Men’ revealed a sense of anger and frustration about gender inequality more broadly. This led to much discussion about the ‘Everyday Sexism’ the young women in the class endured, and that the young men in the class witnessed, and gave way to the realisation that young people of all genders needed to take action to address these issues in a secondary school context.
With the support of our school, a lunchtime Feminist Collective quickly developed into a timetabled elective class, and the idea for the #FHSFightback poster campaign and teaching resource was born.
Since 2013 the Feminist Collective elective has continued to run as an ongoing elective subject. The original class launched ‘Fightback: Addressing Everyday Sexism in Australian Schools’ in early 2015, and subsequent classes have designed and delivered classes on the topic of Rape Culture to their peers, and held Australia’s first ever feminist conference for young people designed for and by secondary school students. ‘Your Voice’ was held at RMIT in February 2019, & sold out in less than 48 hours.
The Feminist Collective won the VicSRC Group Action Award in 2014 and on International Women’s Day in 2018 were awarded the City of Yarra ‘Inspirational Women’ Group Award. The Femco’s teacher and co-founder Briony O’Keeffe was awarded an individual ‘Women of Yarra’ award in 2019.
The Femco never rest, so stay tuned for our next big project!