Women's Fashion Shows as Feminist Trans-formation


  • Shauna Butterwick, Marilou Carrillo, Kim Villagante


adult learning, feminist popular education, social acction learning, arts-based community praxis


This article has emerged from a research partnership between a feminist Filipino activist, a feminist academic researcher and ally, and community-based researcher. In this discussion, we explore a unique arts-based feminist popular education project which used the format of a fashion show, which is not usually associated with women’s emancipation, to tell stories about the colonization of the Philippines, its history and present neocolonial practices and their role in constructing and constraining Filipino women’s freedom and opportunities. In 2004, 2005 and 2008, the Philippine Women’s Centre of British Columbia (PWCBC), one of the longest standing feminist organizations in Vancouver, created and launched three Political Fashion Shows. Framed by feminist perspectives of transnationalism and global capitalism, as well as feminist approaches to popular education, we comment on three scenes from these shows which we have selected as they exemplify the power of visual and performative art to speak truth to power and create spaces of public pedagogy and feminist praxis.


Aguilar, D. (2003). Imperialism, labor, and gender. Unpublished Paper, Washington State University. Retrieve from: http://ilps.info/index.php/en/contributions-a-speeches/86-imperialism-labour-and-gender

Alexander, M. J. & Mohanty, C.T. (1997). Feminist genealogies, colonial legacies, democratic futures. New York, NY: Routledge.

Allman, P. (1999). Revolutionary social transformation: Democratic hopes, political possibilities and critical education. Westport, CN: Praeger.

Brigham, S. (2002). Democracy or hypocrisy? Migrant workers in Canadian multicultural society. In S. Puttagunta, A. Richardson & A. Halvorsen (Eds.), The Canadian Multicultural Experience: Theories, Myths and Realities (pp. 125-141). Edmonton: ICRN Press.

Butterwick, S. & Lawrence, R. L. (2009). Creating alternative realities. Arts-based approaches to transformative learning. In Mezirow, J. & Taylor, E. W. (Eds.). Transformative learning in practice. Insights from community, workplace, and higher education (pp. 35-45). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Carrillo, M. (2009). Socially transformative transnational feminism: Filipino women activists at home and abroad. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia.

Clover, D. E., Stalker, J. & McGauley, L. (2004). Feminist popular education and community leadership: The case for new directions. In Adult Education for Democracy, Social Justice and a Culture of Peace. Proceedings of the International Gathering of the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education and the Adult Education Research Conference, University of Victoria.

Clover, D. & Stalker, J. (2007) (Eds.). The arts and social justice – Re-drafting adult education and community cultural leadership. Leicester: NIACE.

Clover, D. & Sandford, K. (Eds.) (2013). Lifelong learning, the arts and community cultural engagement in the contemporary university. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

Cohen, R. (1991). Women of colour in white households: Coping strategies of live-in domestic workers. Qualitative Sociology, 14, 197-215.

Ellsworth, E. (2005). Places of learning: Media, architecture, and pedagogy. New York: Routledge.

Evans, P. & Werkerle, G. (1997). Women and the Canadian welfare state: Challenges and change. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Fraser, N. (1997). Justice interruptus: Critical reflections on the postsocialist condition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Fraser, N. (2005). Reframing justice in a globalizing world. New Left Review, 36, 69-88.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.

Freire, P. (2004). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company.

Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. Q. Hoare & G. Nowell Smith, Eds. & Trans. New York: International Publishers.

Grewal, I. & Kaplan, C. (1994). Scattered hegemonies: Postmodernity and transnational feminist practices. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

IBON (2005). Dark legacies: the economy under Arroyo. IBON Philippines Databank and Research Center. http://www.ibon.org

Jackson, S. (2011). Social works: Performing arts, supporting publics. New York: Routledge.

Kahn, S.A. (2009). From labour of love to decent work: Protecting the human rights of migrant caregivers in Canada. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 24 (1), 23-45.

Lawrence, R. (2012). Bodies of knowledge: Embodied learning in adult education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 134. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lindio-McGovern, L. & Wassiman, I. (2009). Globalization and third world women: Exploitation, coping and resistance. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Lindio-McGovern, L. (1999). Political consciousness, identity, and social movements: Peasant women in the Philippines and Filipino immigrant activists in Chicago. Social Movements, Conflict and Change, 21, 271-292.

Lister, R. (2003). Citizenship : Feminist perspectives. New York: New York University Press.

Mananzan, Sr. M.J. (1998) Woman and religion. Manila: Institute of Women’s Studies, St. Scholastica College.

Manicom, L. & Walters, S. (Eds.) 2012. Feminist popular education in transnational debates: Building pedagogies of possibility. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

McGregor, C. (2012). Arts-informed pedagogy: Tools for social transformation. International Journal for Lifelong Education, 31 (3), 309-324.

Mohanty, C. (2003). Feminisms without borders: Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. Durham, NC: Durham University Press.

Moors, A. (2003). Unskilled labour: Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program”. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 45, 386-394.

Nagar, R. & Swarr, A.L. (2010). Critical transnational feminist praxis. New York, NY: Suny.

Naples, N. (2003). Feminism and method – Ethnography, discourse analysis and activist research. New York: Routledge.

Newman, J. & White, L.A. (2007). Women, politics, and public policy: The political struggles of Canadian women (Second Edition). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Ong, A. (1999). Flexible citizenship: The cultural logic of transnationality. London: Duke University Press.

Philippine Women’s Centre of BC (1996). Housing needs: Assessment of Filipina domestic workers. http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/research.html.

—— (1997a). Is this Canada? Domestic workers experience in Vancouver, BC. http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/research.html.

—— (1997b). Bridging the gap: The legal needs of Filipino youth. (http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/research.html

—— (1997c). Trapped! Holding onto the knife’s edge: Economic violence against Filipino migrant/immigrant women. http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/research.html.

—— (2000). Filipino nurses doing domestic work in Canada: A stalled development. http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/research.html.

Portes, A. (1999) Conclusion: towards a new world - the origins and effects of transnational activities, Ethnic and Racial Studies 22 (2): 463-77.

Pratt, G. (1999). From registered nurse to registered nanny: Discursive geographies of Filipina domestic workers in Vancouver, BC. Economic Geographer, 75 (3), 215-236.

—— in Collaboration with the Ugnayan Ng Kabataang Pilipino Sa Canada/Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance (2003). Between homes: Displacement and belonging for second generation Filipino-Canadian youths. BC Studies, 140, 41-68.

—— (2005). Abandoned women and spaces of the exception. Antipode, 27 (5), 1053-1078.

—— in collaboration with the Philippine Women Centre of BC (2009). Circulating sadness: Witnessing Filipino mothers’ stories of family separation. Gender Place and Culture, 16, 3-22.

—— (2010a). Collaboration as feminist strategy. Gender Place and Culture, 17, 43-48.

—— (2010b). Nanay (mother): A testimonial play. Cultural Geographies, 17, 123-133.

____ (2012a). Critical transnational praxis – Seeing beyond the state. Paper given at the Kalayaan Centre and Counterspin Secretarial Conference, November 10, 2012. Vancouver, BC.

____ (2012b). Families apart: Migrant mothers and the conflicts of labor and love. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Pratt, G. & Johnson, C. (2009). Translating research into theatre: Nanay: a testimonial play. B.C. Studies, 163, 123-132.

Pratt, G. & Johnston, C. (2013) Staging testimony in Nanay. Geographical Review, 103(2), 288-303.

Rosca, N. (2010). Transnational is a noun: Break the pattern, change the narrative! Paper given at the Kapit-Bisig conference, Montreal Canada, April 30 to May 2, 2010.

Sandoval, C. (2000). Methodology of the oppressed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Sassen, S. (2002). Countergeographies of globalization: The feminization of survival. Paper presented to Gender Budgets, Financial Markets, Financing for Development, February 19th & 20th. Heinrich-Boell Foundation in Berlin.

Stasiulis, D.K. & Bakan, A.B. (1997). Regulation and resistance: Strategies of migrant domestic workers in Canada and Internationally. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 6, 31-57.

West, N. & Stalker, J. (2007). Journey to a (bi)cultural identity: Fabric arts/craft and social justice in Aotearoa New Zealand. In D. Clover & J. Stalker (Eds.), The Arts and Social Justice – Re-crafting Adult Education and Community Cultural Leadership (pp.125-146). Leicester, UK: NIACE.

Wolfe, D. (Ed.) (1996). Feminist dilemmas in fieldwork. Boulder CO: Westview.

Yakhlef, A. (2010). The corporeality of practice-based learning. Organizational Studies 31 (4), 409-430.

Young, I.M. (2000). Inclusion and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Yuval-Davis, N. (1997). Gender and nation. London: Sage Publications.

Yuval-Davis, N. (2002). Some reflections on the questions of citizenship and anti-racism. In Anthias, F. & Lloyd, C. (Eds.), Rethinking Anti-racism: From Theory to Practice. New York: Routledge.

Zaman, H. (2006). Breaking the iron wall: Decommodification and immigrant women’s labour in Canada. Oxford: Lexington Books.

Zaman, H., Diocson, C. & West, R. (2007). Workplace rights for immigrants in BC: The case of Filipino workers. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Downloaded April 14, 2009 from http://www.policyalternatives.ca/reports/2007/12/reportsstudies1775/?pa=A2286B2A

Zaman, J. (2012). Asian immigrants in "Two Canadas": Racialization, marginalization and deregulated work. Toronto, ON: Fernwood.




How to Cite

Kim Villagante, S. B. M. C. (2015). Women’s Fashion Shows as Feminist Trans-formation. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 27(2 SE), 79–99. Retrieved from https://cjsae.library.dal.ca/index.php/cjsae/article/view/3429