My feminist utopia
A feminist utopia feels a lot like socialism - albeit an intersectional socialism. We have universal education, employment, income, healthcare, and housing. Parenting and caring is paid work. Care work and teaching are revered and remunerated well. People who make a real difference are the celebrities. A universal income allows for people, everyone, to work according to their careers and passions. They can study as much as a they like, for free. Workers are not disadvantaged for having a family. All parents get equal paid parental leave. Full time work is limited to 30 hours/week, freeing up time for family, leisure, community and voluntary activities, sports, creativity, education, self improvement and rest. Society is more productive by granting more opportunities to women and non-binary folk. Stories, movies and books are richer, art galleries and museums feature work by more women. It is safe, free from violence, and free from oppression based on sex, gender, age, race, religion, dis/ability, health, and socio-economic status. Capitalism would fall with the patriarchy, money has been taken out of politics. There’s free movement between borders - or borders eventually dissolve. The world is a more caring place - egalitarian, not ego-centric. It’s not revolutionary stuff - and yet we are in desperate need of a revolution for it to happen.
As my week at Stiwdio Maelor draws to a close, I think about how much I hope a feminist utopia is in my future (although it appears unlikely in my lifetime), but also how I can bring these ideals into my everyday. This last week has at times almost felt like I was in a feminist utopia. I was in a house with two other women, artists of incredible skill and intellect. I was in awe of their stories, what they had done and achieved, and also their humour and kindness. On a small scale, this is what a feminist utopia, in the form of a women only commune, could feel like. Not once did I feel like I was being explained to, or talked at or over, or felt that my ideas or accomplishments were unworthy or uninteresting. It felt warm and meaningful. Supportive and nurturing. Equal and respectful. Why can’t ‘the real world’ be like this?
At times this week, when I ventured out of my own bubble of thinking, writing and walking in the woods, I was reminded of the effects of the patriarchy - the intimidating group of loud lads, the deliberate trolling by a Facebook ‘friend’ on one of my posts. But, in this small place, I was also reminded of what it feels like to be human. I woke with the sun. I hunkered down when it got dark. I walked in the woods, in search of myths, mother nature and energy. I ate what and when my body needed. I nursed a sore hip and sciatica (what? I’m only 34!). I walked (not alone!) in the pitch dark and freezing night through the woods to the next town for a delicious meal and a drink by the fire. I met and patted lots of friendly dogs. I recognised in others their stories and their humanity - something that can be so easily lost when we are too focused on ourselves and our own issues. I remembered I’m not a very good artist, but I do it anyway because sometimes life can only make sense to me when I make it abstract and absurd.
As I went to bed last night I was longing to read a short story, that wasn’t about feminism or the state of the world, or written in art jargon. Timely then, that I came across my favourite story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This book always makes me feel alive and happy, and reminds me of the importance of silliness and nonsense. Unsurprisingly, Wonderland makes so much more sense than the world I inhabit. Perhaps that is the real absurdity. On my woodland walks, maybe I was hoping to happen across a white rabbit running late whom I could follow down a rabbit hole.
Is Wonderland a kind of feminist utopia? Probably not, too many people locked up and threatened with beheading by the Queen of Hearts. But Alice is one of my feminist icons. She is always questioning, always trying to put people right. She looks out for herself, but helps others. Always reassessing who she is as a person. She has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to voice them. She’s creative and clever. The ending of the story always disappoints, so I attempt to ignore the unimaginative and abrupt ending of what I otherwise consider to be my guide to life. I think the world would be a better place if we all were a bit more like Alice and a bit less like the Queen of Hearts.