Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Feminist Futures: Trauma, the Post-9/11 World and a Fourth Feminism?

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Feminist Futures: Trauma, the Post-9/11 World and a Fourth Feminism?

Article excerpt

Prologue

In 2002, after approximately four decades of struggle, it seems that the futures of feminisms are at stake across of number of arenas, including the academy, social and political policies, medicine, law, and multi-cultural, multi-national sites. Feminist futures are at stake for a number of reasons: while no doubt we would all provide different reasons, and tell different narratives about feminisms past and future, living in the USA the reasons seem to involve having achieved a few modest feminist goals (even if they constantly have to be defended); having produced feminist knowledge within and beyond the academy, which means that new (practical and scholarly) directions opened up; and, finally, the dramatically changing social and political conditions in (and prior to) 2002 on local, national and global levels which are impacting on feminisms. The end of the Cold War altered international relations in unpredictable ways: old constructs, such as "East" versus "West," or "Communism" versus "Capitalism," merge into new constructions, such as the recent "Islam" versus "West." In light of this, wherever feminists are situated, it is time to re-think what feminisms (in all their variety) have achieved, and where different groups need to go next.

In a sense, the Third Wave Feminism conference seemed to offer precisely the forum for such re-thinking. There have been few occasions like that conference where not only third and second wave feminists came together, but where feminists brought knowledge of struggles they knew about from diverse nations they live in, or have lived in, or work in. There were panels on Third World Feminisms, Muslim Feminisms, Eastern European Feminisms, to say nothing of women presenting papers from Germany, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, the UK and the USA--and more. The range of topics was broad and all-inclusive. If the conference turned out to be less a place where we could actually engage differences--of which there were many--it was very much an opportunity to grasp the different kinds of projects and observe the range of perspectives and concerns that are all "feminist" in diverse ways. (2) From grasping this plurality, we had an opportunity to think from where we happened to be about where we needed to go next. The fact that so many women with different agendas, knowledges and activist projects were brought together to engage in debate and learn from one another attested to the inroads that feminism has made in our personal and scholarly lives in different societies. That there is no monolithic feminism is a good, if at times uncomfortable fact: positions, actions and knowledge--constantly being contested, questioned, and debated--mean that feminism is alive and well, and always changing in accord with larger social, historical and political changes in whatever nation or part of a society women live in.

But challenges in the wake of 9/11 seem greater than those of recent years. And it is the possible traumatic impact of 9/11 in the US, as it may affect future feminist agendas, that I will focus on shortly. How far does living with terror (as people in different parts of the world have been doing for decades) influence women's lives especially? How does it affect feminist ideas, specific feminist agendas? How has 9/11 within the US context at least destabilized prior apparently certain political affiliations, including feminist ones? Can feminists (and women more generally) within and beyond academia contribute fruitfully in this situation by virtue of our socialization? Have we arrived at the need for a "fourth" feminism in a so-called era of "terror"? For even if the era of terror is largely a US media construction--and it is partly that--this construction is already having profound effects on consciousness: it is impacting materially on local and national policies as well as on economics (e.g. on jobs for women globally), and finally it is impacting on social practices and ways of being in daily life--things that have always concerned feminists. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.