Future of Feminism: One World, Many Gendered Voices

Profiling globally-minded organizations this month has reinforced for me one of the main underpinnings of feminism’s future: expanding the movement’s mission outside of our immediate comfort zones. In other words, moving beyond a personal-is-political philosophy to a politics of global humanity.

“Solely discussing gender [is] not enough,” says Colleen Hodgetts, associate editor of the collaborative blog Gender Across Borders. “Feminism as a movement needs to directly confront all other power struggles, namely racism, ableism and heterosexism, in order to be a movement that even attempt[s] to represent a broad spectrum of women.”

Co-founded as a “global voice for gender justice” in 2009 by a group of women, including executive editor Emily Heroy and staff writer Carrie Nelson, Gender Across Borders has quickly become a popular clearinghouse for a variety of perspectives on global issues. Its six staff writers, five monthly contributors, five interns and a host of other contributing writers collectively represent “10 different countries from every continent except Antarctica,” according to Hodgetts.

Posts at GAB run the gamut from political activism to film reviews. A recent post by staff writer Spectra Speaks, “5 African Women Respond to the Kony2012 campaign,” addresses alternative perspectives on the viral response to the half-hour documentary by Invisible Children which, incredibly, amassed almost 80 million online viewers in just under a week. Speaks writes,

[T]he web was flooded with so much commentary from western media on the erasure of African voices that it became challenging for me to even locate perspectives from fellow Africans.

Her post then brings together alternative perspectives by African writers, bloggers and journalists, providing nuance to the sometimes reductive Western response to the campaign. Speaks discusses, for example, an op-ed by Semhar Araia, which calls for the acknowledgment of African voices within the hubbub over the video:

Invisible Children must be willing to take their followers on a journey through the Africa that Africans know. They must be willing to inspire–but also to  manage–their followers’ expectations. They must be willing to use their media to amplify African voices, not simply their own.

Other posts at GAB address wider issues of cultural analysis and ideology, such as staff writer Avory Faucette’s two-part series on transgender identities and globalization, or intern Henrike Dessaules’ interrogation of the Madonna/whore complex in European stereotypes of migrant women. According to Hodgetts, what’s most important about the perspective GAB provides is that it’s “not the face of one white, Western woman. It is not one woman at all, but a group of women, men and those who identify as non-gendered who express their points of view and stand in solidarity with each other.”

Part Sixteen in Women’s History Month series celebrating organizations and ideas that represent the future of feminism.

Photo is a screenshot of GAB website.


Aviva Dove-Viebahn is an assistant professor of film and media studies at Arizona State University and a contributing editor for Ms.' Scholar Writing Program.