Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager at Readings bookstore and one of our newest VWT Board members. Chris is also one of the founding members of the Stella Prize, established in 2013 to rectify a male dominance of awards, media and cultural attitudes. She’s a champion of Melbourne writers, artists and performers, the people who make our city.
We sat down with Chris to ask her a few questions about her feminism and why she’s excited about her new role.
As the programming & events manager for Readings, you’ve coordinated hundreds of book launches and in-conversation events over the years. Looking back, do you have a favourite feminist moment?
When the call came through that Readings was able to host an event with Gloria Steinem, I actually had to lie on the dirty carpet of the office and slow my breathing down. I was overwhelmed with pure excitement and joy. The event at the Town Hall gave me an opportunity to showcase women’s organisations, who were instrumental in setting the Melbourne feminist landscape, including the students from the Feminist Collective, to meet her and illustrate that we were united. I still have the picture of me and my best friend Sarah on either side of Gloria on my desk. We look like idiots; Gloria looks poised, elegant and kind.
When was the last time a book made you laugh out loud?
Everything I know about Love by Dolly Alderton is a coming of age memoir of a wisecracking British writer coming to terms with who she is and why she is. It’s fierce, funny and unapologetic. Some lines in the book made me laugh ’til I cried. And other lines are simply so true. For example, ‘Nearly everything I learnt about love, I’ve learnt from my long term friendships with women.’
You’ve been a huge supporter of Australian writers, but particularly the work of women and non-binary people. Tell us about that.
I will always support the work of women and non-binary writers because we need these writers to rewrite history to create a balanced view of the world, we need these writers to strut their truth, sing their experiences and demand equal platforms to discuss, disown and disregard the set horizons of patriarchy. There simply is no other means to equality. We need to know how everyone felt and how everyone was before we can move forward. It’s why the Stella Prize is so dear to my heart.
This year you’ve stepped up to join the Victorian Women’s Trust board. What does this new role mean for you?
I am incredibly honoured to be on the Board of the VWT. I have long admired the work of the Trust in its persistence to bring to light women’s lives; the glory, the suffering, the advancements all in one loud fierce voice. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? Being part of the Trust allows me to focus my yelling.
Lastly, name a book/album/film/recipe/dance move that’s helping to kept your spirits up during quarantine.
Like everyone in isolation my concentration has been pretty flexible but I’ve enjoyed taking the time to binge watch Killing Eve, to re-read some cracker stories including anything by international authors Jenny Offill, Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith.
Locally I’ve also been cracking my way through the Stella Prize list and rejoicing that Jess Hill’s winning expose has started one million conversations. Hopefully it means one million solutions to a truth we, as women, knew all along.
And I’ve been loving some of those iso videos including Meryl Streep’s Ladies Who Lunch video. Have you seen it? There’s nothing better than a lunch with my best women.
Chris is one of our three new board members, Rana Hussain (writer, podcaster, diversity and inclusion expert) and Cate Banks (senior lawyer with Justice Connect).