Earlier this year, we put out a call – for pieces, reflections, artwork, poetry – inviting submissions to this digital magazine. We were deeply warmed by the enthusiastic response, over 450 submissions from people in 150+ countries and territories around the world. As one can imagine, making the final selection was an incredibly challenging task but what we hope we’ve created is a diverse spread of concerns, contexts, knowledges and creativities; each piece intimate and insightful in its own unique way. The theme of the magazine was to be “Feminist Realities”. I had not personally encountered this term until I engaged with AWID on this project. My first thought latched onto the word ”reality”. Indeed – looking at our world – the reality of the matter when it comes to the continuous violence that is inflicted on women and trans people’s bodies is sobering. But then I quickly realised that ‘Feminist Realities’, as coined by AWID, is not about contemplating how much of the mountain there is still to climb but rather about acknowledging what has been accomplished, created, forged, negotiated, fought and won for, garnered, claimed and nurtured into existence.
Just like that, with a quick change in perspective, I began to grasp the concept of “Feminist Realities”. Being a lover of words, as this project has progressed, I have come to love the use of the word “Realities” in this concept. So, not Feminist Futures, not Feminist Struggle but Feminist Realities. I have come to love the use of the word Realities not as a means of chastening us as to the harsh facts of our current condition but rather shoring ourselves up with the knowledge of what has been accomplished (brought into reality) even as we continue to challenge, fight, resist, organise, care for, love, nurture and protect. Feminist Realities feels like a radical culture change in a time when it can become rote to delineate atrocities, and of course we must. I am not suggesting in any way that being aware of all the horrors and all the work still to be done is bad or wrong or even counterproductive; but you will find in these pieces, in addition to bringing awareness, a deep intelligence, acts of defiance and a claiming of self – I am here.
Feminist Realities is a warm and caring invitation, a kind of en masse-care (versus self-care) act of preservation, an invitation to archive, to take stock of all the work lest it disappear.
And so this magazine edition is an opportunity for our Feminist Realities to appear in all its messiness, joy, power and brilliance. I see it as an instance of recognition, literally to know again. Thinking this recalled to mind the Zulu word “Sawubona” translated as “we see you” or I like to think of it as “we recognise you”. We recognise your Feminist Realities, contributors, feminists, workers, activists, we recognise you in your plurality, multiplicities, complexities and courage. We recognise the power of being able to hold both the scale of the mountain ahead and the diverse valleys and footpaths already mapped.
There is a time for everything and this edition of the magazine comes about when the crisis of heteropatriarchy has been made even more visible. These authors have claimed these pages, this space and time to enrich ourselves in the knowledge of all the big and small acts of triumph that occur every day in the various corners of the world. We invite you to be inspired by the stories, the images; feel the soft intimacy of these accounts and depictions and allow yourself to be filled up and sustained by them.