An exclusive excerpt from Fourth Wave Feminism, Social Media and (SI) Activism by Zinia Mitra (Kitaab International, 2021)
At about age five, I announced to my mother my plans to become a nun.
This is possibly the most incongruous sentence with which I could have chosen to begin this foreword to Zinia Mitra’s new book, which considers feminism’s complex pasts as they weave into present challenges, debates, and uncertainties about where and how next to turn. But please, bear with me. In the spirit of the personal as political, I feel that by sketching my lived relationships with language, activism, and critical theory, it will be most possible to convey in an emotive and embodied sense how and why Mitra’swritings offer so much of value at this crisis point—this turning point—in culture and scholarship. Through wayward storying, I wish to call key moments in a shared set of histories, and thereby to remind of how feminism has long grown and changed, ruptured and split, diversified and yet also forged connections, maintained productive tensions, and— crucially— promoted social change, dramatically reshaping the modes of agency available to us who identify as female and/or identify with the feminist cause. My purpose is to remind of why feminism matters— broadly, and in the present instant—and how Mitra’s new contribution can help us navigate the complex quandaries feminists and feminist allies face in these strange times.