Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » Critical Femininities

Critical Femininities

Critical Femininities is an emerging field of study that seeks to examine femininity unhinged from “woman” (Dahl, 2012). In addition to elucidating and theorizing feminine and femme identities, Critical Femininities scholars follow traditions in non-academic femme writing and feminist and queer scholarship to understand femininity as subversive (Hoskin & Taylor, 2019), understand femme-ininity as a theoretical framework and a mode of knowledge production (Hoskin, 2017; Schwartz, 2018, 2020a), and understand femininity beyond identity as affective, assemblage, and lineage (Brightwell & Taylor, 2019; Dahl, 2017; McCann, 2018; Schwartz, 2020b).

If you would like to get involved in the Critical Femininities research network at York University, please get in touch with Dr. Andi Schwartz or fill in this form

Current Opportunities

Call for Papers | Irreverence: The Third Annual Critical Femininities Conference, August 17-20 2023

The Centre for Feminist Research at York University invites abstracts for the third annual Critical Femininities Conference on the theme of “Irreverence.” The conference will take place virtually on August 17-20, 2023. Abstracts are due May 10, 2023.

To be irreverent is to show disrespect where respect is demanded, to be flippant in the face of serious situations, and to satirize what others hold sacred. In western culture, the mother, the virgin, and the queen are figures of femininity that are often held sacred, exemplifying the entrenchment of idealized feminine characteristics such as domesticity, piety, and (hetero)sexual or moral purity. But for decades, irreverence has been woven into camp and poststructuralist approaches to femme theory, which insist that femme is an intentionally ironic performance of this idealized white, cis-heterosexual femininity (Albrecht-Samarasinha 1997; Case 1988; Duggan & McHugh 1996). Irreverent attitudes toward femininity—especially white, heterosexual, and colonial femininities—are also integral to other queer cultures and modes of critique: in recent years, hypersexual and outrageous impersonations of the sacred feminine figures the Virgin Mary and Queen Elizabeth (I and II) have been presented on the mainstage of TV’s Rupaul’s Drag Race. In this way, irreverence has wrought countercultural styles of femininities that relate to punk, drag, sex work, working-class, Indigenous, and racialized sensibilities (Bailey 2014; Chepp 2015; McCann 2016; Padaan 2023).

See the full CFP here. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Graphic by MA student Maisha Mustanzir

Cluster Members

Alex MacKenzie (she/they) is a trans non-binary, queer femme Ph.D. candidate at York University in the Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies department. Her graduate work focuses on fan engagement with K-pop by queer and Black fans. Her work is interdisciplinary, drawing from the fields of cultural studies, queer theory, transnational studies, urban studies, fat studies, trans studies, critical femininities, and critical race theory. Her work will be published in the Excessive Bodies journal and has presented at the Critical Femininities Conference and the Feminist Digital Media Conference. She is also a research assistant at the Canada-Mediterranean Centre at York University and teaches in the field of Urban Studies at the University of Toronto. 

Andi Schwartz is the Coordinator of the Centre for Feminist Research at York University and a Research Associate with the Critical Femininities Research Cluster. Andi has a PhD and MA in Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies from York University, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. Her academic work has been published in Punk and Post Punk, Feminist Media Studies, Social Media + Society, First Monday, Feral Feminisms, and others. Andi lives in Tkaronto with her dogs.

Casey Robertson is a PhD candidate in Humanities at York University exploring the intersection of sound studies and trans studies through Jean-François Lyotard's politics of aesthetics.  Casey is also a graduate research associate of the Centre for Feminist Research, and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, and a member of the Advocacy and Development Humanities Organizing Committee (ADHoC).  Prior to coming to York, Casey received an honours BA in Music (minoring in Philosophy) and a Diploma in Sonic Design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and an MA in Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. As a musician, activist, and community organizer, Casey is also frequently involved in various equity-centred initiatives and projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area.   


Hannah Maitland lives and works on Treaty 13 territory in Tkaronto, where she is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies Department at York University. Hannah is a feminist researcher who studies girl activists, their politics, and their relationships with their mothers. Her other research areas include youth activism, sex education, and sex education controversies. Beyond her research, Hannah is the co-founder of the Ontario Digital Literacy and Access Network (ODLAN), producer for the Resisting the Script podcast and the Sexuality Studies Spotlight podcast and involved with other organizations and projects that help foster intergenerational relationships in 2S-LGBTQ+ communities. You can find some of her writing in the journal Sex Education and Shameless Magazine.

Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa (they/them/she/her) is a gender nonbinary queer woman of colour PhD Sociology candidate at York University, Tkaronto, a community organizer, educator, and knowledge mobilizer across central Southern Ontario, and a creative writer and poet. Their research, teaching, pedagogy, organizing, and art converge on topics of race and racism, queer and trans belonging, feminism, the sociology of health, and social justice. For more information, please visit:

Kathleen Cherrington is a third year PhD student in the Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies Program, at York University. For 15 years, she worked as an outreach worker to marginalized populations, specifically chronically homeless individuals, prisoners, and street-based sex workers. Her research specializations include critical sex work and erotic labour studies; transnational sexualities; scholar activism; gendered labour; women in poverty; sexual rights; creative research methods and methodologies; feminist art activism; and urban sexualities.

Mackenzie Edwards is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University. Her research uses queer and disability influenced approaches to study fatness in popular and social media. She is also a union steward as well as a co-editor and social media manager of Excessive Bodies. Mackenzie’s work has been published in Fat Studies and Screen Bodies and presented at conferences internationally.

Maisha Mustanzir (she/they) is an M.A. student in the Social Anthropology program at York University. Her research explores the intersection between care, labour, and the bureaucracy within shelters that offer aid to women facing violence in Toronto, Ontario. She is interested in using multi-modal and artistic forms of information dissemination and knowledge production. Currently, Mustanzir is also an editor at Contingent Horizons at York University. 

Sara Shroff is a 2023-2024 Visiting Scholar at the The Centre for Feminist Research/ Le Centre de recherches féministes at York University.  Sara is a Fellow at the Center for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, where she was also the inaugural postdoctoral fellow from 2019-2021. Most recently, Sara was an Assistant Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences, with joint appointments in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Political Science. Her work takes up racialized histories of labor, capital, and coloniality, infrastructures and intimacies of brown femininities along side the geo-poetics of desire, migrations, and sacred knowledges. Sara's work has appeared in top academic journals such as Feminist Review, Feminist Theory, Kohl, and Third World Thematics as well as several anthologies in Peace Studies, Feminist Economics, South Asian Studies and International Relations. Sara received her PhD in Urban and Public Policy from The New School and has taught at The New School, New York University, and PACE University. She currently serves on the editorial board of Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography and as a Co-Editor for the International Feminist Journal of Politic's Conversations. She previously served as a committee member at the Saida Waheed Gender Institute, and Queer Asia. Prior to joining academia, she worked in public policy, global philanthropy and finance for over 18 years.