This is a guest post by the organisers of the Go Feminist conference: Adunni Adams, Caroline Varin, Chitra Nagarajan, Giordy Bunting, Ilse Morgensen, Kate Rowley, Lola Okolosie, Mary Bonett, Sandhya Sharma, Shannon Harvey and Charmaine Elliott.
On 4th February, the Go Feminist conference will be held in London. Throughout the programme, we aim to highlight feminist perspectives you may not normally hear.
We do this as a response to feminism’s most sustained critique: that it is not for all women. Although women from all backgrounds and communities identify with feminist beliefs, the movement still does not completely take into account their needs and realities. Too often in our feminist spaces, the voices of a few are privileged. Race is inadequately dealt with. Our spaces, both physical and virtual, are inaccessible to women living with disabilities. Trans women’s involvement is actively discouraged.
We set up Go Feminist partly to respond to this. However this conference is not an answer but more a continuation of a conversation. Our starting point is the recognition that within the marginalised group of “women”, there are further oppressions. Our movement needs to respond to this and disrupt all existing power structures to be truly meaningful. The feminist story belongs to all women everywhere. Broadening our analysis to include forms of oppressions in addition to patriarchy and focusing on the most forgotten, vulnerable and marginalised gives a better chance of capturing all women. We also believe that we need to make the links between feminism and other movements. 2011 was an exciting year for activism, but from Tahrir Square to Liberty Square, women struggled to have their voices heard. Feminism should be the thread that connects across these struggles, but we have yet to make these connections systematically.
Go Feminist is our attempt to make these connections, to promote a feminist discussion that is representative of, and responsive to, these intersections of oppressions: a feminist movement for all women.
After all, this is a conversation of many voices. Go Feminist was set up by activists for activists. In the spirit of representing the multifaceted concerns of feminists, we have garnered most of our workshop and panel ideas from suggestions received. The conversations are not set in stone: we believe that we need to create spaces for honest sharing and learning so that we see how our feminist action connects across and within different locations to make women’s equality reality. It is through a wider, more holistic examination of our lived realities that the richness of our movement can be realised and genuine alliances forged.
We are by no means a singular voice crying out for a more representative picture of our movement. Women have been raising these issues for many years. Currently in the States is a campaign, led by men against all white male panels. They too understand that a lack of in the diversity of opinion makes for a stagnant conversation. It means the same ideas are worked over. Go Feminist recognises that ensuring our spaces reflect this philosophy is not easy. However, this is not enough of a justification for the failure of attempt that we have sometimes seen. We ourselves are by no means beyond criticism. For example, all parts of our venue are not fully accessible. Although this is the result of financial constraints, we nevertheless agree that it is not good enough and will ensure this does not happen again. In future, all spaces we use will be fully accessible.
We need to shift and broaden our gaze to reconfigure the terrain of what is feminist, to look up and see the interconnectedness of our world. We live in a world of interlocking hierarchies and oppressions. It must be part of our feminist mission to dismantle this. Go Feminist actively works to combat ableism, ageism, class privilege, heteronormativity and homophobia, rascim, sexism, transphobia and all other forms of discrimination and prejudice. Please join us on 4th February for a day where we can share ideas and create change.
Tickets are now available on a sliding scale from £0-£50, depending on what you can afford, at www.gofeminist.org.uk.