Doing Feminism in the Pandemic, One Year On…
A year ago in the first wave of the pandemic and the long confinement, some of us at the Feminist Media Studio got together virtually to draft a living document entitled “Doing Feminism in the Pandemic, or Dying Together Online”. The document was centred around two vital questions for us: What does it mean, as feminists, to live and die in COVID-19 times? What is our role, as intersectional feminists, in the pandemic? These questions led us down two paths, at odds with each other in some ways, necessary in others: first, they led us outward, to committed conversations, consultations, and collaborations with community members whose experiences of the pandemic exposed both longstanding and new forms of precarity. This involved collective meetings with artists doing political work, such as Kama La Mackerel and Helena Krobath, and collectivities working with those who didn’t even have the right to confine: Solidarity Across Borders and Hoodstock. These conversations sought to flesh out how the crisis on our hands was, in so many respects, already existent before the pandemic (#thecrisiswasalreadyhere). Second, the questions led us inward, to use tools such as listening in place, hundreds writing, and list-making to understand the experiential aspects of the pandemic, together, as a mode of staying connected despite our isolation (#theeveryday).
Both directions gleaned insights for our activities over the course of the year: a sense that we needed to hone tools to address #thecrisiswasalreadyhere through an imaginative and speculative project, “Imagine Going on Strike,” whose insights and actions we continue to pursue as the pandemic drags on; and a sense that we needed to reflect on what made FMS a collectivity, and in what ways we could provide some measure of sanctuary in the hostile environments we navigate. This took shape in the fall residency of Kite, and the Artist’s Almanac project she began to imagine collectively, in Community Needs Consultations, and in workshops on making art at the end of the world with Natalie Loveless, and imagining what striking could do to undo imperial violence, with Ariella Aïsha Azoulay and Ian Alan Paul. These activities have sought to nurture collective, process-based spaces of thinking together and co-creation, as well as begin to devise actions with broader public purchase.
We are one year on from that first moment of collective thinking. The ‘third wave’ rages and a catastrophe is unfolding in India. The knife’s edge of pharmaceutical companies’ patents, control over pricing and intellectual property has created an effective “vaccine apartheid” (between the North and South, Israel and Palestine, urban and rural areas). Rather than a “return to normal” (the hegemonic predictions a year ago of the ‘end’ to the pandemic), the general structure of feeling is that there is no ‘normal’ to return to, for better or for worse. At stake, a fierce competition between the differential access to protections, workplace safety, sick leave, vaccines, treatment, child and elder care and more universal models of expanded citizenship. The questions that will guide us as we reflect on how to do feminism in the pandemic are caught up in questions of access, differential reopening, and differential life. Our wish in the coming months is to foster modes of collective thinking/making around these issues, guided by the history and imaginative force of striking and other forms of action. We are keen to broaden our community, to make our support networks more robust, our collaborations more meaningful, and our spaces of exchange more confirming as we weather through the various modes of living and dying together. We invite any and all who wish to be part of these ongoing collaborations to become members or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The tools devised and artefacts of Doing Feminism in the Pandemic may be found at https://feministmediastudio.ca/doing-feminism-in-the-pandemic/