It happens every month like clockwork. Mostly it’s women, but often men experience it too.
It’s Cherchez La Femme—Melbourne’s monthly talk-show event at the pub.
Devised and hosted by Karen Pickering, CLF is a Q&A-style event with a new theme each month. Three panelists are invited to share their opinions and experiences about pop culture and current affairs from a feminist perspective.
Thinking about where the idea for CLF came from, Karen says, “The best conversations I had were in the pub with other feminists. I love being in a room full of feminists talking about things we care about over a beer.”
The event has that feminists-keepin’-it-real-with-booze vibe. You really could just be sitting in a pub, drinking a beer and having a conversation with the panelists. It’s women’s voices, expressing what life is like for women in Australia.
Karen is a lively and entertaining host, whose intelligence and passion for her work is clear. She balances moments of humour and sarcasm, and directs discussions of serious topics with the panelists, like life as a minority, clashes with other feminists, and dealing with the micro-aggressions that all feminists come up against in daily life.
Karen also speaks on radio, appears on TV and at festivals, and works with organisations like The Wheeler Centre, SEED and SlutWalk to raise awareness of feminism.
The aim of CLF is to give voice to women’s experiences in the cultural and political arenas of life, and to make feminist discussions accessible to everyone. “It’s consciousness-raising with a dash of entertainment and there’s always some laughs and a bar,” she says. “It’s my dream job and I get to do it whenever I want.”
The availability of a good old-fashioned pub meal and a pint of White Rabbit pale ale, matched with though-provoking discussion and the company of a like-minded audience, gives you that warm and fuzzy community feeling. CLF creates an open environment where a woman can ponder what kind of feminism she wants to represent while munching on the cheeseburger and chips, which arrives at the table in the middle of the event.
Monthly themes are broad, allowing for exploration into the untapped intricacies of what it’s like to be a woman today. Past themes have included Feminism and Food, Science, Footy, Film, Crime and Sex, to name a few.
This month’s theme: Feminism in Practice saw Maude Davey, Namilla Benson and Casey Jenkins take on issues around motherhood, racial prejudice and artistic self-expression.
Previous panelists have included Anne Summers, David Pocock Monica Dux and many more.
CLF has been running since 2011, and with an ever-lasting plethora of topics out there to be explored, it shows no signs of slowing down. CLF has toured nationally and has developed a following on Facebook and Twitter.
Cherchez La Femme is held at The Duke of Wellington Hotel from 7-9pm on the first Tuesday of each month. Hit up http://cherchezlafemme.com.au for information on May’s theme, to buy tickets, or to listen to the podcasts.
By Amelia Theodorakis
Photograph via FLickr