In a media landscape dominated by the male perspective, where women’s stories are too often shaped by the men who tell them, empowering women to share their experiences is a radical act. Domini Marshall, founder and director of ‘her words,’ is aiming to tackle gender inequality through empathy and education – specifically, by giving women a safe and supportive platform to tell their stories in their own words.
We’re excited to have ‘her words’ as one of our stallholders at Print Space, our flagship print market at Open Spaces festival on 17 & 18 November 2018. We chat with Domini about the importance of authentic representation of women in the media, and the platform’s mission to ensure every woman knows her words matter.
Tell us a little about ‘her words’ and the work you do.
‘her words’ is an intimate and inspiring online video interview series and social enterprise sharing the stories of women in Australia. With an inclusive outlook and a focus on deep exploration of issues, each episode is based around a theme – anything from feminism to refugee stories to self-love.
‘her words’ challenges the abysmal statistics around representation of women on-screen in Australia. Since our launch we’ve interviewed over 50 women from diverse walks of life, with an emphasis on amplifying marginalised voices. Our mission is to inspire courage through connection and change through conversation: so, every woman knows her words matter.
‘her words’ will be participating at Open Spaces as part of the Print Space market. What are you most looking forward to about being part of this event?
We feel really lucky and excited to be amongst so many other wonderful brands and organisations in Print Space! We’re especially looking forward to meeting people attending the event and sharing her words with the community. As ‘her words’ is really all about women and their stories – we’re looking forward to meeting more amazing humans and hearing a bit about their stories too.
You seek to enable women to feel valued, reflected and represented on screen. Can you discuss the need for diverse female and non-binary representation in the media?
Media largely influences, and is influenced by, the world we live in. So, in that way it has the power to shape our perspectives and experiences and, most importantly, to help create the kind of world we want to live in – one in which equality is not a pipe dream! Representation matters and the stories we see on screen matter. When we see the stories of diverse women and non-binary folk on screen, we’re saying: these stories are worthy of our respect and attention. They’re important. Every person deserves to feel validated in their experiences, celebrated and reflected on screen.
The platform empowers women to be the narrators of their own stories. How do you do this, and why do you think it is important for women to be involved in the telling of women’s stories.
We believe women should have ownership over their stories and share them in ways that feel safe and supportive. For so long, women – particularly women from marginalised communities – have been ignored, made to feel powerless, ashamed or ‘lesser than,’ and rewritten out of history. It’s not up to anyone to speak on behalf of others, but to ensure those voices and stories are part of the conversation. Women, and people from marginalised communities, deserve to have the space to share their stories in whatever ways feel right for them.
What do you think prompts women to share their stories via her words?
At ‘her words,’ it’s really important to us that the entire process of being interviewed and sharing stories is safe, supportive and positive. While we might talk about some heavy topics, we do so in a way that we hope is empowering to both the storytellers and the audience. We believe in celebrating stories that show people as whole, complex human beings – not stereotypes or one-dimensional characters.
‘her words’ is about community, courage and conversation. We hope that those sharing their stories, and those watching or listening, feel supported as part of a community that’s genuinely trying to tackle gender inequality through empathy and education.
Stories shared on your platform tackle a range of issues including body image, feminism, victim-blaming and more. Has there been one story that has particularly resonated with you?
I feel privileged and honoured to have been able to interview the incredible people we’ve interviewed – and all their stories have had an impact on me. As a survivor of sexual assault, this topic was something I was really passionate to tackle, which is why it was one of the first topics we released. Listening to these women sharing their experiences and stories really hit home for me. I’m continually in awe of women’s resilience and courage in the face of so much pain, oppression and discrimination. Women are f***ing strong.
How have women responded to the site? Has anything about the reaction surprised you?
The response has been so positive, and we feel so lucky to have found an incredibly engaged community who support the series! We’re excited to continue growing the audience and to have our viewers more involved in the process of picking topics and sharing stories.
What’s next for ‘her words’?
We’re about to release our next round of episodes, which share the stories of four women with refugee backgrounds. I’m really looking forward to getting these live and sharing them with the public. We’re also trying to secure funding to be able to travel around Australia and share stories of women outside of Melbourne. We’re currently limited budget-wise, so we’re trying to think creatively and will be looking for partners and sponsors who would like to get involved with our mission. Get in touch if you’re one of them! We’re also releasing some limited edition prints at Open Spaces and will continue to host events in Melbourne this year and next. Exciting times!