The 1980 Society

Merton’s 1980 Society has had a very successful third year. In Michaelmas term, at Merton’s own Freshers’ Fair many undergraduates were very excited to join. We started off the term with a pyjama party and movie screening of 10 Things I Hate About You, a feminist pop culture classic which the entire audience enjoyed. We also started an event series of an online discussion group, where every fortnight a different theme is focused on and the participants are encouraged to share their views in a friendly discourse. This event often served as an introduction to feminist theory, as we used current news, movies, music or online phenomena to begin the conversations. Some themes included social reproduction and women’s role in the family, problems we find in current feminist discourse such as lack of intersectionality or transmisogyny, beauty standards faced by young girls and children online, as well as what gender equality can do for men.

In Hilary term, we hosted a second movie night for International Women’s Day (this time online). Another highlight was the collaboration with Merton’s gender equality representative and the 40 Years of Women at Merton series. To honour this special anniversary we hosted a discussion panel titled 40 Years of Progress: Oxford, gender equality and academia since 1980. The inspiring guests we were lucky enough to have join us were Honorary Fellows Professor Dinah Birch CBE (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement and Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool) and Professor Lyndal Roper (Regius Professor of History at the University of Oxford), and former Fellow Professor Alison Finch (Honorary Professor Emerita of French Literature at the University of Cambridge). The discussion was chaired by Merton’s Warden Irene Tracey and included some questions from Phoebe Mountain (2019, JCR Gender Equality Representative 2020-21), Jessica Searle (2018, JCR Gender Equality Representative 2019-20) and me. We all left feeling very hopeful about how far the JCR has come in including women, but also inspired to work towards further progress and a more equal college and society overall. We also continued the online discussion groups, which have become a beloved and popular event.

In Trinity term, we started recording a podcast series where we invited back the founder of the society Emily Capstick (2017), as well as last year’s president Olivia Tan (2018). The podcast will hopefully be launched over the next year, allowing the society to expand to reach an audience outside Merton’s walls. We are very excited to see what the next academic year has to offer for the 1980 Society.

Merit Flügler (2019)
1980 Society President 2020-21