What do you see when you look toward the future? Will robots raise our babies? Will we live genderless? Will water be our most precious commodity? Will rising sea levels and vanishing coastlines force unknown scales of migration? Will reparations be made for past and present injustices? Will the patriarchy ever die? The possibilities are invigorating, terrifying, multiple and multiplying. Thinking about our futures and the future of the world in 2016 is exciting: with so much technology and information at our fingertips, there is room for new conversations, creativity, and growth. It’s also frightening: some days the apocalypse feels uncomfortably close, some days it’s already here.
We grew up learning that we make our own futures. If we work hard enough, we were told, we can control our own destiny. But as many of us have found out, if we assume that we are each responsible for our own future, then our failures—the failure to prosper, create, procreate, or be loved in a healthy way—are ours alone to bear. This narrative doesn’t allow us to name, challenge, or resist the forces that create the circumstances of our lives, or to chart the trajectory of our experiences. In our world, precious few are in control of their personal futures. We know this agency is an illusion, and is in fact an inheritance of our state’s colonial, racist, capitalist, and patriarchal legacies: old ideologies that continue to shape life. But the myth is powerful in a system that tells us the game—whether it takes place in the market, the bedroom, the healthcare system—is ours to lose.
With the sixth issue of GUTS, we turn to some of the unavoidable trajectories we see for ourselves and our world—and it’s clear that we need all the care, forgiveness, community, friendship, and love we can muster. While the future remains unknown, affirmations of our responsibilities to and dependence upon each other can not only provide a safe haven, but also offer a form of resistance. As contributors Billy-Ray Belcourt and Maura Roberts frame it, radical friendship “is about making the world more workable or livable for one another, throwing a wrench into the future that settler colonialism narrates. For us, friendship is partly what’s keeping us attached to life, and to a future that actually wants us in it.”
If we take the relationships we build outside of normative familial structures seriously, we can actively refuse both to be sidelined and isolated. Making the effort to build intentional alliances, while difficult and potentially exhausting, is also a radical resistance to the loneliness we see ahead of us. As Shailee Koranne writes in her essay about growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood in the suburbs of Toronto: “I reached out to more women of colour even though part of me was tired and weary of making new friends.” We reach for love, care, and support not because it’s easy, but because we need to.
Too often this important work—of caregiving, community-building, friendship, and love—is seen as “natural,” outside of waged work, with its worth unrecognized. How can we value labours of care in an economy that asks us to do it for free? How can we take care of ourselves and one another in a world that asks us to offer our productive, emotional, and reproductive labour at a low cost to the market at every turn?
We don’t have answers to these questions, but we can recognize that an impetus of capital is to establish architectural, discursive, and physical spaces that discipline bodies; building spaces where we prioritize care for one another over relentless demands for productivity is one way to refuse this insistent discipline.
Interrogating how we got here is another form of resistance possible from within oppressive discursive and physical spaces. The past brings with it questions of forgiveness and reconciliation. How do we move forward in the world while remembering the temporalities that shape us and our surroundings? Our ghosts, if we don’t leave them behind, haunt us. But, as Johanna Hedva points out in “A Defence of De-Persons”:
To reckon with being haunted is important political work. It can account for why the world right now has come to be as it is. And it can re-imagine a world that is not already foretold.
In a time when the Canadian government is purportedly putting a renewed focus on reconciliation, these hauntings are crucial. In her poetic manifesto, Danielle Boissoneau writes: “Indigenous futurisms are built on the graves of colonial capitalism, the burned out remnants of residential schools, and the trails of tears left by Indigenous women who never found their way home.” But our state’s approach to reconciliation requires that we eventually put our pasts behind us, and making amends ends up looking like a new form of assimilation. Allowing these ghosts and ancestors to haunt our futures is integral for building worlds we can all belong to.
When we recognize that we are, in fact, haunted by histories of white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy, we can make different decisions about who continues to haunt us. With our FUTURES issue, we want to make space for new conversations and stories that acknowledge these systems that have shaped our world, while imagining and articulating possible alternatives.
This project is important to us as a feminist magazine. Feminist history, in a mainstream telling, is a movement of progress: the “waves” of feminism carry with them an innate narrative, moving forward in a single direction. But this story centres around a specific type of feminism—namely white and liberal—and these waves can be conceptualized as a series of gatekeepers asking themselves: “Who are we going to let in next?” This question of inclusion inevitably prompts us to ask: Who is being told to wait? Who is being promised that their freedom will come, but later?
It’s clear to us that we must abandon this notion of progress, and the pressure to construct a single vision for the advancement of the feminist movement. As white liberal feminism becomes increasingly aligned with capitalism, we hear affluent feminists offering us promises of reaching the top, simply by giving ourselves entirely to work—a model that has proven only to further exploit and disempower those working in service industries, economies of care, and the ever expanding market of short term contract labour across all fields of work.
In a world that says progress is the only possible lens with which to frame our movements through time, anxiety is a wholly logical response to the future. To be anxious is to recognize that the future we’ve been told is our personal responsibility is in fact already narrated. With this issue our contributors are asking: How do we speak from the places and identities that have been denied futures? How do we listen so we can hear the futures that challenge our own tellings?
The future will take time and the future will take work. The future proliferates in all directions, and we prefer it that way. Please read and listen to the accounts of the future we have collected in this issue.
Your GUTS editors