By Rachel Wishnie-Edwards
While at home for a day at the beginning of my spring break, I caught sight of a book in the living room. The cover was bright yellow, but what caught my attention most was the title: The Feminist Utopia Project. With my family consisting of my mother, father, and brother, my first thought was whom would this book belong to, if not me? I soon learned that the two young women who put it together, Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, each knew my parents. Alexandra was a law student of my dad’s, and Rachel went to my middle school and connected with my mom for advice about her theater projects. Somehow, those two women who to me seemed so unrelated, were friends who had edited this wonderful book.
The book, or project, consists of “fifty-seven visions of a wildly better future,” according to the cover page. Those visions range from essays and short stories to interviews, poetry and drawings. The pieces are composed by bloggers, journalists, writers, artists, activists, grassroots organizers, abortion providers, and friends of the editors. In general, they are a variety of unique, somewhat random visions of their authors’ views on an ideal feminist future. A few of my favorite pieces are “Dispatch from the Post-Rape Future” by Maya Dusenbery, “Not on My Block” by Hannah Giorgis, “If Absence Was the Source of Silence” by Reginald Dwayne Betts, and “The Free Girl Who Is Everything” by Janet Mock.
“Dispatch from the Post-Rape Future” is a story. It is the story of historians from a futuristic feminist utopia in which rape doesn’t exist, and they work to understand what exactly rape was. They come from a world where women are not objectified, in sexual relationships or in life, which means that they are equals to men in every way. Although covering a serious issue, the piece was funny. The historians are essentially confused by the idea that “it could ever be unclear if sex was not merely ‘okay,’ as if sex were some minor inconvenience, a small favor like borrowing a toothbrush or something, but urgently wanted” (19). They referred to our generation as “the ancients,” and tried to piece together how things ever could have been this bad for women.
Other pieces, like “The Free Girl Who Is Everything,” were more abstract and visionary, and less narrative. “The Free Girl” envisions what a young woman would be like in a feminist utopia—what freedom would look like. And it looks like this: “An overwhelming sense of safety and communal support will be her default…She will believe she is entitled to all things, welcomed in all spaces, and free to define herself” (328). She will be able to create her own identity without any questions asked, and with unconditional support. The Free Girl is an aspiration, not just for women but for everyone in the world who will create the environment for her to flourish.
As I read through the book, I was overwhelmed by the many powerful ideas it held. I laughed, I thought, I agreed, I disagreed, and I felt connected with the shared struggles of many women as we try to define ourselves. The purpose of the book is to be “food for your creative feminist imagination,” and to “spark feminist dreams” (6). It seeks to inspire us to want more for ourselves, to think abstractly and concretely of what we want for ourselves and for the women of the future. And we could all stand to spend a little more time dreaming.