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IS FEMINISM DEAD-AGAIN?

Dragon fly coming out of its nymph shell against black background that says "feminist"
Photo collage by pk mutch

Feminists everywhere are buzzing about Michelle Goldberg’s recent op ed column published by the New York Times, ‘The Future isn’t Female Anymore’.

I circled it three times. Then took the bait. 

Goldberg suggests feminism is fizzling out—along with puffy sleeves and tie-dye sweatpants. And provides reasons for believing this to be true.

I too can see what she sees.

But only if I use a pair of American opera glasses and focus on an American feminist stage (Note: I sincerely grieve for our American sisters). The thing is feminism exists in hundreds of countries around the world. And sure, as a Canadian feminist publisher who monitors trends, I see why American Gen Z, Millennials – ‘Me-lenials’ (a distinct subgroup), are losing faith and yep, even the over-55 comrades in arms are tired. But what they are tired of, in my opinion, is marketplace feminism, #girlboss feminism, and the big one – white feminism.

The thing is, feminism is not just a soprano performance – it’s a whole global opera. And just because the star spangled soprano leaves the stage—or messes up an act, doesn’t mean the whole show is over.

Yes. Bitch closed. The news knocked me back too. But feminist media is a fierce hydra. Capitalism’s axe can and does routinely chop of a Bitch of a limb here and there. But only fair-weather feminists would conclude that that this means feminist media, or feminism on the whole is losing the battle. There remain thousands of feminist zinesters, newsletters, micro publishers, podcasters, and bloggers ready to serve and continue the work of their newest ancestor.

So no, from what I see, feminism is not retrenching. It is, thank Goddess, once again, evolving. Like a dragon fly, coming out of its nymph stage after seven years under pink water. 

Feminism is not a chartable Fortune-500 trend. It is a diverse, living, indeterminate, mycelial-like being. It lives, breathes and thrives mostly underground creating the conditions for deep change. Branches of it need to die so that others can grow.

With the worrisome erosion of democracy everywhere (bad for women and all marginalized folks) and the alt right movement’s growth, it’s about time individualistic girl boss power and corporate-led representational feminism– itchy protuberances that have dominated media, preoccupied elites and North American policy makers over the last 10+ years– gives way to something more relevant for the coming times.

What I see happening now, in my feminist world, is a long overdue revival of radical, socialist, solidarity and grassroots organization-led, feminism; The kind that has marathon legs, knows when to rest, and how to pass a baton because no one or organization or celebrity, no matter how big, can run this race alone.

This feminism prioritizes big picture revolutionary change versus seats at the table. 

For lack of a better, term, let’s call it solidarity feminism. 

Solidarity feminism is prepared to protect its past wins and ready to work collaboratively for new ones like defunding the police, abolition, gun control and ending racism. This feminism is quietly mobilizing millions of progressive micro entrepreneurs, resourcing the experimentation and discourse needed to nourish the emergence of a post-work, post growth, accessible, post capitalist and planet-first economy. Such an economy will enable all to thrive in accordance with their personal or community’s cultural definition of thriving; A peaceful pluriverse.

Solidarity feminism is hella intersectional, inter-movement, and international, because as the pandemic made clear, the fight for gender justice and liberation is all interconnected.

The new, emerging take on solidarity feminism understands that this work moves in sync with natural cycles. A pause from organizing global marches is simply wintering—reflecting, recharging–not the end of a movement.

For me, the future is not – was never – female. It is, and always was, feminist.

There is a difference. You see, feminism does not equate to female. Feminists come in all genders–and to fight what’s coming, and to birth real liberation, we will need all feminists, all grassroots and large feminist non-profits, for profits and NGO’s in every nation, on well funded front lines.

If  Susan Faludi looked beyond U.S. borders, I think she might agree. Feminism isn’t retrenching. It’s morphing. Wisely shedding what is no longer useful; A more relevant kind of feminism for a world facing the triple threat of Covid, climate and conflict is about to take off and fly. 

A part of feminism may indeed be dying. My kind of feminism is just getting started. 


This Op. Ed. was written and published by pk mutch, founder and publisher of LiisBeth.com.

Tired of just reading about feminism? Looking to practice feminism? Or a like minded, feminist community to be part of?  Check out the Feminist Enterprise Commons here.

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Activism & Action

What Pipeline Protests Tell Us

Wet’suwet’en supporters on the bridge over the Wedzin Khah river, Wet’suwet’en territory.

A few years ago, I asked an Indigenous female economist how she views the environment in the context of building a strong economy for Canada. She was speaking at a business conference to an audience of female entrepreneurs. Her response: “For the Indigenous peoples, the environment is our family. Non-Indigenous cultures may see the environment as a commodity,” she said, “but Indigenous peoples view the environment as our family, and we treat and protect it as such.”

Whoomp. I felt her statement reverberate through my body. I always saw the environment as important, but at that moment, I realized my view was in an abstract and disconnected way. The environment is family—this concept has been colouring my view of the world ever since.

And so, I have been watching the Coastal GasLink pipeline protests in British Columbia through the lens of Environment = Family. Would I be taking the same action if my family was at stake? I look at my son and think, “Yes, I would.” In a heartbeat.

Yet, the current protests of the Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia and the Mohawks of Tyendinaga in Ontario over a natural gas pipeline project and land access in Western Canada seem to be coming across to some in the public—including media, political leaders, RCMP, and Coastal GasLink—as irrational, selfish, and even hysterical. As a woman of colour, I am familiar with that tune. Angry women, like angry Indigenous groups, make people uncomfortable. I have been called irrational, selfish, and stubborn—at times when I simply felt that I was right.

But everyone has varying perspectives on what is right.

Coastal GasLink, the corporate proponent of this multi-billion dollar megaproject, believes its pipeline project is right for its business, its shareholders, and Canada’s economy. It feels that its consultations with First Nations have been sufficient and complete. It has ticked the consultation boxes and secured the permits, so Coastal GasLink believes it is technically right to move ahead with construction.

Wet’suwet’en believes they are right to protect their lands, their history, and their family—the environment. They feel that they were not consulted sufficiently and that they did not give consent for the pipeline to pass through their lands, and they have the right to protect their lands and the environment—their family.

Both the company and the Wet’suwet’en view each other as irrational and unfair. Reaching mutual understanding and agreement will be a significant challenge when neither can view the other party as fair and reasonable.

Community consultations for mega projects can take years—even decades—for a corporation and its stakeholders to reach a place of mutual understanding and agreement. When such consultations involve marginalized groups such as women and Indigenous peoples, there are additional layers to work through, starting with how we are perceived as stubborn, irrational, and ungrateful. Colonization of Indigenous peoples, patriarchal dominance over women, and commodification of our natural environment by primarily Western cultures are not dissimilar.

Indeed, they may be so closely linked that making progress in one area requires progress in all areas: ending colonization of Indigenous peoples, dismantling patriarchy, and protecting the family that nourishes us—the environment.

Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project has been in the works for years. The company has spent approximately six years conducting impact assessments and consulting stakeholders, including First Nations communities, along the pipeline route. It has secured all the correct government permits. In spite of this, Wet’suwet’en people continue to demonstrate against the pipeline, bringing construction to a standstill and the country at large to their attention.

I have no connection to the Coastal GasLink pipeline or the stakeholders involved. I am a fellow Canadian watching another complicated and sensitive standoff with Indigenous people regarding a resource extraction project.

But I am a professional in the mining industry. I have been in the field, at mine sites and in local villages, facing angry and fearful people opposing mining projects in faraway places such as New Caledonia, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea—all as geopolitically and socially complex as our country.

I have listened to hopeful community leaders who hold expectations that a mine will bring good, prosperous jobs and lift their community members out of poverty. And I have listened to tearful mothers and fathers from remote regions where economic opportunity is almost non-existent, heard their hopes that we (the mining company) will help clothe, feed, and educate their children.

I have seen companies choose to keep local communities at “arm’s length,” refusing to truly engage and find ways to share benefits of the mine equitably. I have seen some companies barrel through community protests and local unrest, hire their own security, or call in the local army to forcibly remove local citizens and bulldoze local villages, with devastating consequences. These companies never garner local support and often face involuntary shutdowns due to community blockades, attacks, and other forms of protests that drive project costs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

I have also seen companies completely halt the development of their own multi-billion dollar projects, putting the project on a care and maintenance program (the purpose of C&M is to just have enough funding to “keep the lights on” at site), while continuing to invest corporate money into public consultations, local relationship building, community investments, and forward regional planning—even when the commodity may have tanked in markets. And then, when the price of that commodity rebounds and the project is re-started, that company is better-positioned thanks to the stronger community relationships it has built, garnering trust that a project goal is of mutual benefit for all stakeholders.

A truly sustainable mega-project will aim for a win-win outcome for the local stakeholders and the company. The Coastal GasLink pipeline project seems to be heading for a win-lose. Perhaps the company’s intention was win-win, but somewhere along the way, its stakeholder engagement program failed to recognize and fully engage all the stakeholders involved.

Coastal GasLink may have ticked all the government-required consultation boxes, it may even have gone beyond government requirements, but clearly, that was not enough to mitigate today’s protests resulting in costly equipment sitting idle, the layoff of hundreds of workers and contractors, and a huge economic domino effect across the country with passenger and cargo rail shutdowns.

Many are insisting on government action. But, ultimately, it is Coastal GasLink’s responsibility to do better. It is always the responsibility of the project proponent to know all possible stakeholders and their degree of support or disagreement with the project, recognize and respect the varying hopes and fears, and engage all stakeholders in thorough, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive dialogue and consultations. It owes this due diligence to its business, shareholders, investors, and the country.

There is still a window of opportunity here. As the oil sector is not performing well and the company is bleeding money due to the blockades (not to mention incalculable damage to its corporate reputation), Coastal GasLink could press the pause button on project construction, dismiss the RCMP, and re-engage with its stakeholders. It could listen closer, try to understand each other, search for a common goal of mutual benefit. It may take months or even years, but we need to accept that this is okay, that investing time and energy into building strong relationships in order to help us build more sustainable megaprojects is better for everyone—local communities, the economy, businesses, future generations, and the environment (our family).

Sabrina Dias is the founder and CEO of SOOP Strategies Inc.


Publishers note: On Feb 20th LiisBeth Media staff and advisory board voted unanimously to support the Wet’suwet’en community and their right to assert control of their land as upheld by Wet’suwet’en law and governance. The rule of law argument to applies to both Canada and the Wet’suwet’en nation. Members of the Wet’suwet’en community, led by the five hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs, have not given their free, prior, and informed consent to the current state of the Coastal GasLink project.

We urge the Government of Canada to engage in authentic dialogue with a view towards reaching a withdraw RCMP presence in a way that both maintains surrounding community safety and upholds their commitment to action truth and reconciliation, and to uphold the obligations laid out by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP Article 10 expressly condemns forced removal, including under coercion, and further condemns the use of extra-state actors like corporations.

Anything less is an assault to peaceable coexistence and reconciliation between settlers and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. You can download our full statement here.


For more information on how to support the Wet’suwet’en community, click here.


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