GUTS is an open-source magazine designed to promote and facilitate conversation among feminist communities and individuals across Canada. The idea for the magazine emerged out of a feminist reading group that met throughout the summer of 2012. Together we read a collection of texts that furthered our understanding of the social reproduction of gender inequality. Through the camaraderie of our weekly meetings, we were encouraged to continue our discussions about feminism in new platforms. GUTS hopes to ignite solidarity among its readership by creating an accessible and dynamic space for discussion. We are grateful for the support of local as well as online feminist communities, and especially want to thank those people who researched and wrote articles for GUTS’s inaugural issue.
In the lead-up to launching GUTS, we settled on an ambitious mandate for the magazine: to locate and challenge the patriarchal forces that isolate and de-politicize women across Canada. We approached this task by focusing our first issue on a seemingly simple question: What is the state of feminism(s) in Canada? While we expected to receive disparate and far-reaching responses, we were not prepared for the contentious discourse that followed.
For instance, some people struggled to understand the significance of the magazine’s objectives, and more broadly, the relevance of feminism to their daily lives. We tried to justify the project, which led to answering such questions as: Do all feminists hate men? Didn’t feminism die in the 70s? Why are feminists angry when women today share the same opportunities as men? These questions (or accusations) are frustratingly dissatisfying, but they also suggest the ways in which feminism has lost its political currency in public discourse. While gender inequality is increasingly considered a non-issue, it’s clear that the term ‘feminism’ has not lost its affective potency; it continues to generate feelings of anxiety, ambivalence, and even anger. The confused discourse around the term indicates that gender politics remain unresolved.
Since the 80s, public and institutional support for the Canadian women’s movement has declined sharply. Meanwhile, feminist advocacy and research groups are still fighting to improve women’s reproductive rights, women’s shelters and rape crisis centers are operating at over capacity, and women’s labour continues to be exploited at home and in the workplace. Saying feminism is over doesn’t necessarily make it true. So long as patriarchy informs our social relations, we will need feminist forms of organization, research, art and resistance. GUTS is part of this ongoing project.
Each piece in our inaugural issue points to specific examples of patriarchy, and challenges the assumption that gender inequality has been eradicated. But it is also clear that our summer issue only scrapes the surface of the state of feminism in Canada. The first issue of GUTS does not adequately engage with highly political and cohesive feminist communities, including Indigenous feminist communities, queer/trans communities, Quebec feminist communities, and many more. GUTS is aware, however, that the attempt to represent Canadian feminism as a whole risks domesticating the political and social forces that have historically motivated feminist resistance in Canada. Although solidarity is our goal, GUTS recognizes that feminism in Canada, in its current state, cannot be unified by a nationalist politics without consenting to complacency, essentialism or even tokenism.
If representing the state of feminism in Canada is not a specifically nationalist project, we might ask: why Canadian feminism? In focusing on the nation, can we come closer to effecting change through feminist politics? Or does this strategy only serve to harden a unified, but multicultural Canadian identity? Our interest in Canada arises out of a desire to situate ourselves within our geopolitical context, a necessary task in a country that still struggles with the ongoing effects of patriarchal colonization. Histories of settlement and capital inflect discussions of gender discrimination. GUTS acknowledges these histories and encourages precision when articulating the possibilities and need for change.
These discussions cannot be contained: we reject the opposition between theory and praxis. We will take up feminist action alongside the women with whom we work and live. We will not fall silent when we are compelled to speak up, cry out, or testify. We will grow, kill and prepare our own food, while interrogating the forces that alienate us from such labour. We will help our friends raise their children. We will demand the right to choose, without entertaining liberal politics. And we will not forget but find new ways of remembering those who have struggled before us. Because GUTS itself emerges not simply as a response to those who doubt us but more importantly as a response to the feminist discourses that have nurtured us.