FeministFuturist: A Humanifesto

We are feminists. We are futurists.

We choose “Feminist” to describe a point of view which embraces equality for beings who necessarily have a multiplicity of stories and visions to share.  We strive for a future of equality intersecting across gender, race, sexual orientation, class, creed, and species. 

We call on fellow artists to foment cultural change by creating visionary art. Specifically, artworks that reimagine the cultural narratives which define us and envision a more inclusive future for humankind within the context of a vulnerable ecosystem. We seek to evolve culture creatively, equitably, with sustainable technologies, and with deep respect for the ecological systems of planet Earth.

What then is Feminist Futurism? 

Feminist Futurism is a fusion of two words that bring with them some baggage. We acknowledge this and choose to do the heavy lifting.

American author and activist bell hooks’ statement resonates powerfully. “Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. Feminist thought and action create the condition under which mutuality can be nurtured” and gives space to non-binary gender expression.

Feminist Futurism offers visions of coexistence, healing, and community with all living things. We elevate the voices of people of color, and seek models of hybridity, interrelatedness, and recognition of what human beings share. 

Futurists, people whose career is to study present trends and predict future possible outcomes, are predominantly white men. A quick online search of futurist authors yielded forty four white men and six white women.  Heidi Toffler, the wife of Alvin Toffler of “Future Shock” fame, was one of the six and her contributions to the field were anonymous for most of her life. No persons of color appeared in the search results. 

Futuristic visions in science fiction novels and television, past and present, often feature male heroes and technology-centered narratives. Women play minor roles and persons of color and queerness are either absent or exotic others. In these narratives, it is a given that they had no hand in creating the technology and societies they served. Earlier writers such as Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, Doris Lessing, and contemporary writers such as NK Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor have provided engaging alternatives to patriarchal narrative tropes, but the dominant representations of the future were, and are, masculinist, technocentric, and human-centric.

Technology designed and created by those already in possession of privilege and power is rapidly adopted without regard to cultural, economic and environmental impacts. This disregard has led to societal alienation, a crisis of meaning, profound economic and social injustice, and impending environmental catastrophe. We need the voices and creativity of womxn, gender non-binary and people of color to impact humanity’s course and help change the future for all humankind.

As we find ourselves approaching the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, we acknowledge progress on the road to equality, but there are still glaring inequities. Our world is gravely out of balance, perhaps more than ever before. Feminist Futurists work to restore balance by promoting voices that have long been undervalued and suppressed. Our diverse chorus envisions new meta-narratives to shape our future identities and enhance the potential of humans to co-exist with other beings on the planet.

The global pandemic of 2020 laid bare the deep, systemic problems in our society. Capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy serve the wealthiest tiers of society and leave crumbs for the rest. While big tech CEOs’ wealth grew exponentially in 2020 the vast majority of humans around the world struggled and suffered. People of color were infected and killed by the coronavirus at 3 times the rate of white people in America. Women have only recovered half of lost employment compared to men. Deregulation of environmental laws in place to protect Earth will inevitably endanger the health and lives of human communities, disproportionately those of color. We reject the systems that are failing the majority of humans and our earth. We demand new systems and will help imagine them.

Feminist Futurists believe we must evolve away from a binary worldview of opposing forces towards one of complementarity. In nature, opposing forces are balancing forces. Each is a part of the whole. We propose a paradigm shift in worldview from Man vs. Nature to Nature is Us; a shift away from the male/female binary towards the human whole, integrated. We seek technology enlightened by connection with nature, speed counterbalanced by stillness, competition enhanced by collaboration, aggression stabilized by compassion. 

Transcendent wonders are all around us: cephalopods who communicate using skin patterns, avian dinosaurs, mycorrhizal networks carrying messages from tree to tree. Perhaps the mechanized replicants we build to do our chores turn out to have emotions and aspirations. What new beautiful things can we dream into existence together? 

Feminist Futurist Exhibit Proposal: Future Visions

We call on Artists to lead the way in building a more inclusive future for Humankind to evolve within the natural world on Planet Earth. We need your vision and creativity to propose futures that break free of old utopic and dystopic frames. 

The Future is not only technology, but also social, religious, political and economic structures. What are the new cultural meta-narratives? What new myths, religions, stories might we imagine guiding our future lives and those of future generations? What might replace patriarchal structures of social injustice and oppression? What better models will evolve for humans to interact with other life on this earth? What will Beauty look like? Or Love? How will we live…think…relax…dream? 

We envision partnerships with local art centers, academic and cultural institutions and with public spaces in parks, cities and towns.  We propose exhibitions that draw from regional artists through a mix of invitation and open call in response to the Feminist Futurist vision. We seek partners with space and interest in performance, installation, new media, and technologies, in addition to traditional forms of drawing, painting and sculpture. We are committed to seeing this concept manifest as a series of events at different locations across the country. 

Join With Us. Our Futures Depend Upon It. 

 

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