“I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I like to think that a lot has changed this year but I often wonder whether what has changed the most is my own, very narrow perspective on life.
I like to think that more people are aware of gender-related issues and that as a society we are beginning to understand the reality of inequality and structural sexism that exists. I like to think that we are beginning to discuss LGBTQ+ rights more and that these rights are being brought to the forefront of governmental agendas. I like to think that as a society we are becoming more aware of intersectional experiences and that we are recognizing the benefits that the nuances of race, religion and ethnicity possess.
I like to think all of this because my experience has allowed me to. At Gender and the City, all of these ideas become very real. We debate, we deliberate and we defend our beliefs in a context where these are the most important issues. There is a general consensus amongst us that what we are discussing is good and right.
And yet, I feel as though I have been lulled into a false sense of security, whereby the majority of us identify with feminist ideas and a significant amount of us are activists of equality. We are defined by the idea of homophily in which we tend to associate with like-minded people. We pat each other on the back for our achievements and encourage each other to continue as, of course, we believe that we are correct. This is a dream from which I have no desire to awaken.
But as I continue to lie on Cloud Nine in relative comfort, I can feel the sky thinning beneath me and I can hear the chaotic sounds of the real world begin to wake me up.
What a year it has been for Gender and the City. As of today, we have published 52 articles, received nearly 13,000 views and gained relative prominence through our Facebook and Twitter pages. I would like to thank you all wholeheartedly for your support and I would especially like to thank the Gender and the City Team and writers for making us what we are.
I wish I could say we have come a long way. And if I speak specifically about Gender and the City, I can say that we have. We have heard honest and personal accounts of a transgender experience, sexual assault, familial pressures and parenthood. We have read articles, recited poems and watched films. We have focused on the politics of sexuality, the theories of postcolonialism and religious ideologies. We have, in my humble opinion, achieved a lot.
And yes, as a society there have been developments in achieving gender equality and increased awareness of related ideas. However, without meaning to sound overly pessimistic, many such changes have been trivial or tokenistic because what we face is structural, entrenched into institutions and embedded into the discourse of everyday life.
So instead of continuing to write about what we have achieved, I would like to propose a question: what more can we do?
There are a few simple answers to this question. Increase awareness, have difficult conversations, campaign, sign petitions, attend protests – I could go on. At Gender and the City we’ll be doing just that and more – we’ll be making some changes on Sunday 1st November, so please watch this space.
But to reflect on what Angela Davis once said, “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” We need momentum. We need dedication. We need sacrifice.
So, where do we go from here?