Platform Feminism: Protest and the Politics of Spatial Organization

Authors: Rianka Singh*, University of Toronto
Topics: Gender, Social Geography
Keywords: platforms, feminist media studies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Platforms are an enduring centerpiece in popular feminist movements. Platforms both mobilize a gaze and direct an audience. We can point to moments in history where platforms are used as a media for resistance. The recent Women’s March on Washington has given way to a series of new iconic images of contemporary feminist protest. Celebrities deliver speeches from a stage that looks like a rock concert. A new unknown face for the movement steps out of the shadow, up to the mic and is finally heard. Platforms include the physical soapbox, stage, megaphone but also of course the digital platform brandished with a hashtag. #MeToo, #TimesUp and #YesAllWomen are all movements that have relied on the digital platform for reinvigorating what Sarah Banet-Weiser has called “popular feminism” (2018). But all of these rather common media platforms tend to infer an underlying assumption of safety, privilege and power in relation to social space. The focus on platforms tends to obscure the needs of those who do not take so readily to them. In this paper, I map out how the platform has figured in the spatial organizations of feminist protest sites and investigate how the platform is a media that marginalized feminist activists engage with and subvert as they reconfigure ways of convening in the digital age. I trace the different spatial and mediated strategies of activists whose relationships to space are more complicated than the symbol and activating of the platform.

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