The third and final day of reconference opened with a poignant music video created by indigenous female rappers in Australia, who shared words of warning against environmental destruction. The video set the scene to open a plenary discussion on the intersection of environmental justice and feminist movements.
Here are the top takeaways from the panel titled Our Bodies, Our Territories, Feminists Defending the Environment:
- Aggression against marginalized communities, groups and individuals are being perpetrated by the same forces who commit aggressions against the earth. The connection between our territories and our bodies was first made by the moderator, Srilatha Batliwala who pointed out that Patrick (Patriarchy), Knee-cap (Neo-liberal capitalism), and Norm (heteronormativity), are the same three same power structures which oppress people and attack the land.
- Reconnecting with our bodies helps us reconnect with our territories and vice versa. Before diving into conversation, the plenary panel led all reconference attendees through two exercises as a form of re-centering. First, attendees stood to salute cosmic energy as a first step towards demanding universal, intergenerational justice. Next, activists and artists in the audience participated in an exercise to consciously acknowledge our bodies, how our bodies are located in the world, but note how the world is located within our bodies. Acknowledging these connections goes both ways is a critical part of the current struggles in Latin America in particular, where the same colonial forces which have plundered the land have also violated the bodies of the people who live there. Bodily integrity and environmental protection are intimately linked concepts.
- Feminism is about more than academic references. One of the environmental justice activists on the panel explained that the first time she called herself a feminist, she was challenged by others on her intellectual references and academic frameworks. These attitudes limit alliances and while agendas and priorities may be different across movements, all activists are fighting for freedoms. Mutual respect and understanding can help to strengthen forces.
- Self-care is an essential part of activism. Activists bravely face hostile situations on a regular basis – risking their livelihoods, homes and even lives. Self-care must be a part of all our approaches to protect ourselves, to heal, and to heal each other in turn.
Moving from bodies and territories to the tangled web of tech, the second plenary discussion tackled the Pleasures and Dangers of Technology. Speakers from constituencies shared how their lives were intimately tied to various forms of technology before the main discussion opened to explore the risks and opportunities at the intersection of technology and activism today.
The top takeaways were:
- The pleasures of technology are often linked to transgression. Jac SM Kee explained that the most desirable parts of technology may be the ability to commit legal, bodily, and knowledge-based transgressions. However you approach the pleasure of technology and its ability to facilitate connections, storytelling, expression, and knowledge-sharing, there are dangers related to the very same power structures which exist offline. These dangers can be amplified compared to the physical given the kinds and amounts of data being extracted from us.
- We need to re-examine our ideas of online anonymity and gender-based violence. We often believe that the idea of being anonymous online is about protecting yourself from some individual out there. But we need to think about not just human actors, but algorithmic actors – actors that can share our information in ways that we cannot fathom. At the same time, anonymity can create new spaces for cyber violence and violence against women.
- We need to reimagine technology in terms of what we want it to be, instead of worrying about what we don’t want it to be. Harnessing and redirecting technology in feminist ways requires a complex disengagement with certain platforms and the invention of new, feminist forms of technology. We cannot pretend that we can ignore the machine or protect ourselves from it. Instead, we need to remember that machines are embedded with possibility and design them for the future that we want to see – starting with a feminist internet.