This piece was originally published in the 4th Issue of Bluestockings Magazine.
As a multimedia platform in 2014, bluestockings witnesses and contributes to an explosion of feminist content. By working with three distinct mediums — a print publication, a blog, and a zine — we often find ourselves negotiating the different constraints and affordances of each. But through them, we are able to engage in multiple conversations about feminism, identity, publishing, and the logistical practicalities of keeping it all running (at some times more smoothly than others).
In the process of trying to take stock of our cultural moment, we notice that the term feminism is being co-opted by our bipartisan political system and propagated as a pop culture commodity.
Feminism is trending; intersectionality is now a buzzword. We wonder: are people calling themselves feminists without empathizing and engaging with the movement’s complex identities, communities, and histories? Is the increased self-identification as a feminist actually productive? What are the limits of #allyship?
Supposedly feminism is entering its ‘fourth wave.’ Characterized by the digital, the ‘fourth wave’ is described as building upon previous waves of feminism by providing a more inclusive platform to marginalized voices, bodies, and identities through new media forms.
We believe, however, that the language of waves is reductive. As we understand them, waves are simply place-markers to locate collective efforts and ideologies. The histories that have remained visible are increasingly being called out for their exclusion of people of color, queer identified, trans* identified, gender non-conforming, working-class and disabled folks. However, continuing to employ the terminology of waves reenacts the violence of this exclusion by attempting to impose a unified point of view on any moment in time.
The idea of successive waves reinforces an ideology of linear progress, in which each wave is understood to be more inclusive than the last. We believe that this notion of progress disregards the work that marginalized groups were already doing, as well as the violent structures used to suppress their efforts. These voices were always there, just not listened to.
Waves suggest an ebb and flow — a powerful surge, but also a collapse. Why should we categorize feminist movements as transient and ephemeral interruptions of the status quo?
To situate ourselves within the ‘fourth wave’ would be to accept a singular, prescriptive way of both understanding and enacting feminism. But outside of the ideology of this flawed framework, we grapple with posi- tioning ourselves in a broader movement.
Due to both necessity and desire, we are online and engaged with digital feminism. Through the bluestockings blog, we’ve been able to contribute to and experience firsthand a growing feeling of momentum. But in the process we are implicated in the imperatives of production required by neoliberal capitalism. The simultaneous acts of generating and being bombarded by an abundance of content adds to the feeling of being unrooted, making it increasingly challenging to figure out where we stand.
A moment cannot be fully understood as it is happening. Navigating particular and self-selecting niches of the Internet, we fear that we may be operating with blinders on, unable to formulate a clear vision or measure of the impact of projects like bluestockings. How can we tell how many voices our words reach? What are the limits of our address?
Still, the online feminist community has interrupted mainstream discussions, calling attention to questions about the inclusions and exclusions produced by our society at large and in feminism historically. Hashtags like #NotYourAsianSidekick and #solidarityisforwhitewomen have created spaces for crucial conversations. Blogs such as Black Girl Dangerous have provided necessary sites for critique and productive dialogue, as well as supportive communities.
Through our print publication, bluestockings wants to recognize the importance of the issues that digital feminism alone cannot speak to. We believe in the importance of working slowly and intentionally. We hope to find the time and energy to resist the propulsive speed of cultural production. In print, we archive these moments, these struggles, and our engagement with these questions.
By putting our bound, square book out into the world, we can locate bluestockings. As a material object, it contributes to a tradition of the physical, emotional, and intellectual labor of independent feminist publishing.
It is a testament to feminism, a movement inherently grounded in the multiplicities of experiences and bodies.
We hope you will enjoy these pieces and that they will challenge you. These conversations do not begin or end in these pages, but we have collected them here to mark a particular time and place. We’re honored that you’ve joined us.
In love and solidarity,
Chanelle Adams, Anastasiya Gorodilova, Lily Gutterman, Ann Kremen, Maru Pabón & Sophia Seawell