The Talking Back Feminist Media Conference: Call for Proposals, Exhibitors and Vendors

September 11th, 2019     by Team Shameless     Comments

Illustration: Saul Freedman-Lawson

Shameless is an independent Canadian voice for smart, strong, sassy young women and trans youth, covering issues that matter to young women and trans youth since 2004! It’s a fresh alternative to typical teen magazines, packed with articles about arts, culture and current events, reflecting the neglected diversity of our readers’ interests and experiences. Grounded in principles of social justice and anti-oppression, Shameless aims to do more than just publish a magazine: we aim to inspire, inform, and advocate for young women and trans youth.


In celebration of our 15th year of independent feminist publishing for teens, Shameless will host the first ever Talking Back Feminist Media Conference on November 16th and 17th, 2019, at the Toronto Media Arts Centre. This conference is funded by the Toronto Arts Council.

The conference theme is the future(s) of feminist media. This will be a space to collaborate, to talk about where we’ve come from, and to scheme and dream about where we can go from here. We imagine a world in which there are many possible futures of our own making.

The conference will take place at the Toronto Media Arts Centre in west-end Toronto. Most of the workshops and presentations will take place on the second floor. There is an elevator and accessible, gender-neutral washrooms. ASL interpretation will be available. All conference presenters and attendees will be asked to respect a low-scent environment. Childminding will be available - please get in touch with us at if you will require this!

Presenters, exhibitors, and vendors will be selected by proposal to present in a variety of creative formats, including talks, panel discussions, workshops, performances and exhibits. Shameless is committed to working with folks from all kinds of backgrounds. No presentation or conference experience is necessary!


The conference will explore themes of diversity, representation, form, process, media as activism and feminist media’s relationship to capitalism. We are defining media in broad ways—think zines, and street art, and stickers, and writing, and 3D printing, and blogging, wearable tech, and spoken word, and, and and…! And as for “feminist”—we are talking about the kind of feminism that is local and global, intersectional, thoughtful, intergenerational, self-reflective, fierce and caring (think Shameless!)!

The conference will be divided into four main tracks for sessions:

_Community-Centered Media Processes and Sustainable Movements_
How can we re-imagine processes of production to be in line with feminist politics? What is our relationship to capital and productivity? How can we create and sustain media spaces that are accountable, caring, and safe? What are our broader goals as feminist media makers and consumers?

(Special focus on media makers and consumers that are further defining feminism through self-reflexive practice)

_Feminist Media as Activism_
What is feminist artivism (street art, spoken word, culture jamming, etc.)? How are we creating and contributing to social movements (migrant and racial justice, reproductive justice, Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, etc.) through media making and consumption? What is guiding our editorial decision-making behind-the-scenes? Who is currently participating in the media and who is being left out? How can we carve out new spaces in the existing media landscape for neglected perspectives? How can we ensure that we reject mainstream notions of who is qualified to lead, and instead value lived experience? What is the role of emotional labour in media making? How can we build capacity and form deep relationships through our work? How are we creating participatory communities?

(Special focus on emerging media makers and consumers.)

_Radical Representation; Beyond Traditional Models of “Inclusion”_
How can we move beyond mainstream, Westernized and capitalistic models of “diversity” and “inclusion”? What is meaningful representation? What is cultural appropriation? How can we bring forward stories and storytellers from historically underrepresented groups? How can we create spaces for joy and celebration among communities facing violence, or take space to write about something other than our identities? How do we negotiate relationships between our feminist politics and other communities we may be a part of? What is the role of the editor, where is editorial power held, and what strategies exist or could possibly exist to re-distribute that power, especially to those who are new to media-making? How does capital (or lack thereof) limit participation from historically underrepresented groups?

(Special focus on youth, Indigenous, trans and non-binary, disabled, mad and rural perspectives.)

_Form and Aesthetics_
How do we define feminist media? What forms can it take? How can we expand what media can be feminist? How can technology (both low-tech and high-tech) contribute to a feminist culture? How are new media forms breaking down the distinctions between consumers and producers? How does technology, medium, and form affect the message media is delivering? What social or cultural frameworks influence the form with which we make feminist media? What does it look like to no longer need feminist media? What are the futures of feminist form, and how can we re-imagine the process of production?

(Special focus on technology, making, new media, craft, methodology)


Are you interested in presenting a workshop, giving a talk about a cool media project that you’ve been a part of, sharing your super rad knowledge, or assembling a group of people to come up with new and exciting schemes? We are looking for conference presenters!

Please note: All presenters will be paid an honorarium of $120.00. We do not have a budget for travel at this time.

Sessions are 75 minutes long, and can take on a number of formats, including:
- Presentations or talks
- Panel discussions
- Workshops
- Performances
- Story-telling
- Show-and-tell
- Crowd-sourcing knowledge and wisdom
- Some combination of formats!

Please note: we are also accepting applications from folks who have sessions shorter than 75 minutes—if that’s the case, we can work together to either a) group you with other shorter presenters or b) turn your session into something longer. If you have an idea for a shorter session, just make a note of it in your application and we’ll be in touch!


No experience is required to submit a proposal! If this is your first conference, first time putting together a proposal for something, or first time considering speaking or presenting to a group, we want to hear from you! You can submit a proposal as an individual or as a group.

Talking Back Feminist Media Conference Call for Proposals

The link above will take you to the proposal submission form. The application is divided into five sections:

SECTION 1: Contact information

All the information we need to address you and get in touch, as well as voluntary self-identification so we can do our best to make this conference as diverse as possible.

SECTION 2: Session proposal

Here we have the bulk of the proposal. We will ask you to select a track (Please note: if you have an idea that does not fit into any of the tracks above, you can still apply! We know how hard it can be to fit amazing things into boxes, regardless of how amazing those boxes might be!), name your session, and select a format (or come up with your own!).

Before you fill this out, it would be helpful to work through the following questions:

  • What key questions, ideas or themes do you want to address?
    Eg. “How can we build community through feminist media making?” or, “Ethical fundraising,” or “feminist maker spaces”
  • How do you want to address these topics?
    Eg. “I want to facilitate a workshop where participants will share their experiences of representation in media.”
  • What do you want attendees to leave with?
    Eg. “I want attendees to leave with a collaborative zine that explores best practices in collective decision-making.” or, “I want attendees to leave with lessons learned from the case study I presented.”
  • What is your relationship to these ideas?
    Eg. “I have been reading feminist magazines for years.” or, “I have been the lone voice expressing these challenges in my institution.”
  • Please use the space below to describe your session in more detail
  • What do you need to make this presentation work?
    We will also ask what you need from us to make this session work (special equipment, room needs, etc.).

SECTION 3: Supports

In this section we’ll ask you what support you might need from us to see your session through. Some folks get nervous speaking in front of an audience, others might need help designing an outline. We’re here to help!

SECTION 4: Access needs

In this section, we ask what you’ll need from us and the space to be able to access it. Do you need childcare? ASL Interpretation? Lots of breaks to collect your thoughts? Let us know and we’ll do our best to design a conference that works for everyone!


We totally get how overwhelming it can be to submit a proposal, especially for the first time. We’re here to help! If you would like support with filling out this call for proposals, please email to discuss. We can arrange to communicate by:
- Email
- Phone
- Instant message (Google chat or WhatsApp)
- Video chat

We can provide the following support:
- Answering questions about the conference, proposal questions or selection process - Coming up with an alternate format for you to present your proposal (ie. audio or visual) - Building on an idea you might have to turn it into a proposal - Maybe more! Just ask!

Whether you are experienced or new, it is fine to write “I’m not sure” as an answer to any question in your proposal. We can work on figuring it out together.


In addition to the conference, we also have access to gallery space at The Public’s storefront gallery. Through November and December, we will be programming the space with amazing work that speaks to the future of feminist media. Are you a visual artist with work that speaks to any of the four tracks above? If so, please email with the subject line “Talking Back Artist Application” with the following:

  • Your name and a short artist bio
    An artist bio is just a paragraph of who you are and what you’re interested in as an artist. This doesn’t need to be formal, we can work on refining it together if your work is selected! We do not require you to have shown your work before, and especially encourage works from emerging artists!
  • Images of your work with an artist statement
    An artist statement is a short piece of writing (just a couple of paragraphs) that describes the work and what you are trying to say with it!
  • A short statement of how your work speaks to the conference themes
    We are just looking for a few sentences here!
  • Technical specifications
    Please tell us how many pieces you have to display, the sizes, and any technical needs!

Please note: All artists will be paid an honorarium of $120.00


The conference will also include an Arts Market on Sunday, November 17th, the second day of the conference. This is a space for arts vendors to showcase, promote, and sell their work. An arts vendor includes but is not limited to: zines, published material, prints, fine arts, apparel, textiles, sculpture.

If your application is accepted, there is a $20 fee to secure your space to participate at the Arts Market. Each vendor will have a 3’x2’ table space with one or two chairs. There is no fee to apply for the Arts Market. Applications will be accepted until 11:59PM on October 4, 2019.

Arts Market Vendor Application Form

NOTE: Filling out this form does not guarantee you a table. Due to limited space we cannot offer a table to every applicant. You will be notified by October 16th regarding your application status. Information regarding payment options will follow.

Any questions about the application or the Arts Market can be e-mailed to Beena at


Amazing! We’d love to have you. Tickets are on sale right here!

Our brilliant steering committee will be making decisions about presenters and exhibitors in early October and we will be releasing the full program by Tuesday, October 15th.


Let’s talk!

To volunteer, please fill out this form.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please see our sponsorship package.

Tags: conference, media savvy, talking back

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