Women, Design, and Empowerment: I Will What I Want

None at Strand Bookstore

Fri, Jul 28 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

This Olio begins a dialogue around designs created to emancipate those who menstruate, give birth, and/or identify as women.

Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act... a "doing" rather than a "being.”
― Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, 1990

If, according to Judith Butler’s seminal 1990 text, gender is a construction, then design—product, industrial, fashion, and graphic design in particular—has always been central to its making. The exhibition I Will What I Want: Women, Design, and Empowerment (at Parsons in April 2017, and traveling to Mexico City’s MUCA Roma in fall) explores the complex and sometimes-contradictory role that design has played in the pursuit of gender expression and equality for those who have uteruses, menstruate, and/or identify as women, from the mid twentieth century, through second wave feminism, to present non-binary intersections.

From the contraceptive pill to the breast pump to building blocks designed expressly to engage young girls, there is a long history of industrially manufactured objects that have attempted to positively shape human experiences, offering control over fertility, ovulation, and menstruation, facilitating school and work participation, and proclaiming self-defined gender expression. However, design’s relationship with the individual and with societies is rarely uncomplicated and so many designs “for her,” even for very young girls, come with the baggage of implicit and explicit expectations about class, race, gender performance, labor, and sexuality.

This Olio begins a dialogue around designs created to emancipate those who menstruate, give birth, and/or identify as women. It asks the listener to contemplate, from their own position, the ways in which these products, garments, and interfaces have, for better and sometimes for worse governed, shaped, and facilitated modern and contemporary experiences.

This Olio was inspired by an exhibition co-organized by independent curators Jimena Acosta and Michelle Millar Fisher.


Teacher: Michelle Millar Fisher
Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 4, 2020, 8 p.m.

A Dialogue: Buddhism and the Stoics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Bhante Kusala & Michael Prettyman

June 5, 2020, 8 p.m.

Seeing the Subconscious: Mindfulness, Psychology, and the Road to Healing Racism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam & Robin Schlenger

June 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

June 8, 2020, 8 p.m.

Escape From The City

Location: at Online

Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Location: at Online

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

Location: at Online

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

Location: at Online

Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.


Stay in Touch


Instagram Mailing List Contact

Get Involved


Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.