FEATURE: Young Feminists | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Right now, “feminism” is a word on a lot of people’s lips but there are few that notice the effect of the gender equality movement on today’s younger generation. Tynemouth-based production company Little Journey are among those few who have recognised and wish to share this feminist youth phenomena. Using a series of powerful interviews with teenage feminists from the North East, directors Jessica Govan and Vincent Bell were able to create a sharply insightful short documentary, named simply Young Feminists.

I spoke to them about the potent sagacity of the brief film, how they hope to raise further awareness, and the impact that it’s already having.

First and foremost, feminism is often a talking point reserved for more experienced academics or simply people of more advanced age. What made you want to investigate the recent phenomena of youth feminism?

It feels like feminism is really culturally relevant now and of young people. We’d been talking about feminism a lot and having lots of animated discussions about a range of topics. It felt like the ideas needed to be documented. In terms of it being an esoteric, academic discipline, we feel that feminism exists outside the classroom and is felt or experienced every day.

Sadly, it is sometimes a touchy or taboo subject, especially for young women. Did you get a sense of this whilst conducting interviews?

It’s hard to understand why feminism is taboo, why might it be seen as transgressive? I think when something is taboo, someone is controlling the idea and discussion; you can only enforce change through discussion. Our interviewees were not anxious or withdrawn, they wanted to share and they felt free in their discussion.

The selection process for interviewees must have been an interesting one. What sort of answers did you expect when first developing the idea of the documentary?

It was great to see how many people wanted to be involved; we had a wealth of participants. We tried to not have expectations, as we didn’t want to shape the message from our perspective, it was more about what feminism meant to them. We wanted to create a space where the interviewees could feel free to say anything. We knew the people were engaging and that they would be illuminating in their discussion.

“there’s a real sense of positivity that comes from the documentary which is a counterpoint to the negativity online”

The film clearly offers a lot of insight into the minds of modern young feminists. What, do you feel, were the most important points made by your interviewees?

For us, there’s a real sense of positivity that comes from the documentary which is a counterpoint to the negativity online. We were pleased that a man was involved and that he highlighted how some men needed to be educated about what feminism really entailed. It was also interesting to see that feminism meant different things to different subjects and that was ok. Although there was a shared goal, the subjects had different interpretations of how feminism related to their identity.

Clearly, a lot of the discussion centres on the experiences of young women today (mentions of beauty in magazines, Beyoncé and sexual empowerment etc). Did you feel as though you learnt something about the experiences of young women through the interview process?

It made us aware of the amount of sexism those women face on a daily basis but how they still manage to be mature, collected and positive despite the pressures. Vincent, in particular, was unaware of the different ways women faced sexism on a daily basis. It was a real eye-opener.

Did you feel as though, speaking to people from the local area, there is a growing feminist movement in the North East (what with the likes of NEFG being present, and the prominence of feminist ideas on social media)?

We were not aware that there was a local feminist movement but we’re happy that there is. For us, feminism is a universal issue – the more people who positively engage the better. We were pleased to see Newcastle University Feminist Society had shared our work on Twitter and also feminist groups from London. It’s heartening that there is feminist discourse on social networks, as the dominant media outlets are very patriarchal.

Lastly, you claim to have a lot of footage on this incredibly engaging and unique topic- do you plan on producing more short films that expand on this?

At the minute we’re making a short film that involves us getting baptised in the North Sea. After, we finish that, we’re thinking about producing a documentary about sexism on the internet. We’ve been alarmed and amused at the amount of aggression directed towards us since the documentary has gone online. Feminism will always be important to us, we want feminism to be more than a discussion topic: it’s not a concept, it’s part of our everyday lives.

You can watch Young Feminists below. Find out more about Little Journey on their Twitter page.

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