CIVIC CONVERSATIONS: A Conversation about Feminism

From the U.S. News & World Report collection at the Library of Congress

Free and open to the public, this small-group discussion series encourages informed conversations around complex topics affecting Virginia. On the second Wednesday of each month, the Library will screen a segment from a documentary film, followed by a round-table conversation with input from a moderator and historical expert from the Library. Attendees are encouraged to share their perspectives with the group.

March 11, 2020’s event featured a screening from the Netflix documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking. Our conversation centered around current and historic feminist terminology and attitudes. The Library of Virginia’s Education & Outreach Manager, Catherine Wyatt, moderated our discussion and our Exhibitions Coordinator, Barbara Batson, lent her expertise on suffrage and feminism. For more information, contact Cindy Marks at

Potential Discussion Questions:

  • Is the feminist movement as relevant and necessary today as it has been in the past?
  • Do you feel the term “feminism” carries too much baggage for usage today? If so, what term is used more frequently by women in current generations?
  • Does the idea of intersectionality aid or detract from a feminist agenda?
  • Do women who are more oriented towards careers or service as fulfillment feel differently about feminism than women who choose to stay shy of the workforce because they find their homes and raising their children a more fulfilling orientation? How about women who do not have the option to choose a focus but do both—where do they see feminism playing a role in their lives?
  • What factors contribute to women’s equality?
  • Does equality in society ever happen organically or is it a constant battle?
  • Does a feminist have to be female?

Image from the Library of Congress


Archive Materials:


Blog Posts from the UncommonWealth:

Resources Related to the Library’s 2020 exhibition We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia:


Image from Wikipedia Commons



Why the Fight Over the Equal Rights Amendment Has Lasted Nearly a Century from

Websites & Podcasts:

TED Talks:

Why I am not a feminist | Betsy Cairo | TEDxMileHighWomen
What does the word “feminist” mean today? In this informative talk, Betsy Cairo explores the impact of gender specific language in our culture, and wonders if the word “feminism” itself has stalled the movement. Is there a better option, and what would it mean to let this word go?

We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TEDxEuston
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian novelist. She was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers today under 40 years old by The New Yorker and was recently the guest speaker at the 2012 annual commonwealth lecture. She featured in the April 2012 edition of Time Magazine, celebrated as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Is Modern Feminism starting to undermine Itself? | Jess Butcher | TEDxAstonUniversity
Jess Butcher is a entrepreneur, non-exec director and angel investor. Co-Founder of Blippar, one of Britain’s best-funded technology scale-ups and one of the world’s leading computer vision and augmented reality technology platforms. She is the recipient of numerous female entrepreneur and tech awards including BBC’s Top 100 Women and Fortune’s Most Powerful female entrepreneurs and is a passionate start-up mentor, public speaker and writer on subjects as diverse as women in technology, female entrepreneurialism, digital innovation, digital detox and work-life balance.

MEETING THE ENEMY A feminist comes to terms with the Men’s Rights movement | Cassie Jaye | TEDxMarin
By facing long-held assumptions, one woman reevaluates her own gender biases. Documentary Filmmaker, The Red Pill. Cassie Jaye founded Jaye Bird Productions in 2008, which has since produced a collection of documentary films that have been praised for being thought-provoking, entertaining and respectful in representing multiple competing views within each film. Jaye is known for tackling complex and often controversial subject matters.

Stop fighting for feminism | Minh Thuy Ta | TEDxBaDinh
Feminism seems to be a hot trend with strong images of female stars. But do you really understand Feminism? Ms. Minh Thuy Ta shares her idea on Feminism from the perspective of her work life and personal life. Minh Thuy Ta (VJ Thuy Minh) is a journalist, TV host, a columnist, an author and a single mom.