Writers’ festival couch conversations explore gender inclusivity

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Two Western Australian authors will discuss their most recent books at a session at the Mitchell Street Community Centre in Spalding as part of the City of Greater Geraldton Library Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival next month. 

Hosted by the WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), authors Craig Silvey and Stella Budrikis will converse with Sandra Carr MLC with the aim to provoke thoughtful discussion within the community about how peoples’ lives, and life choices have been shaped by societal expectations of gender roles.  

“The annual Midwest festival provides opportunities to discuss diverse and alternative ways of thinking with other like-minded people,” WACRH Associate Professor Monica Moran said.  

“Books provide a good starting point for conversations, especially when they delve into the lives of characters who challenge our perspective of the world.  

“Generating discussion that challenges outdated, and somewhat harmful gender stereotypes is important in creating a more gender equal society and is a discussion that should not be shied away from. 

“Many may hold back from participation in such conversations in their daily life for fear of rejection, so it’s vitally important we create safe environments where these ideas can be discussed respectfully,” she said. 

The authors’ most recent work, Honeybee by Craig Silvey and The Edward Street Baby Farm by Stella Budrikis both examine how gender expectations influence different aspects of the main characters lives’ including their ability to meaningfully contribute to society.    

“Silvey’s work powerfully portrays how struggling with gender dysphoria can affect an individual’s sense of self-worth and Budrikis’ novel strikingly illustrates how women’s freedom interacts with, and influences changes in society,” Associate Professor Moran said. 

“Quite often the effects of labelling can be overlooked, with people focusing on terminology and categorisation rather than the emotional turmoil that frequently occurs within individuals who do not adhere to traditional gender stereotypes.  

“Conversations on the couch will allow members of the community to focus on discussions that attach a human element to gender stereotypes, generating empathy for those who do not conform – a key ingredient in generating social change, and one that can be carried forward into future discussions. 

Associate Professor Moran said the event is free and encourages people from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life to attend.  

“Join us at Mitchell Street Community Centre at 75 Mitchell Street in Spalding on Friday 1st October at 10am and be a part of these vital conversations that pave the way towards a more inclusive society for the whole of community.” 

Tickets are limited and attendees must register for a free ticket via the Eventbrite link here https://bit.ly/2WzjoeN, or by contacting the library on 9956 6659 prior to the event.