NeMLA 2020- "I'm No Feminist!": Negotiating Rural Feminisms and Feminist Identities

Tracee Howell's picture
September 30, 2019
United States
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies, Teaching and Learning, Humanities, Social Sciences, Philosophy

Inclusive Roundtable at NeMLA 2020(Boston). According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, rural areas cover 97% of the land area of the U.S. and are inhabited by 60 million people—about 19% of the U.S. population (“New Census Data Show Differences Between Urban and Rural Populations,” Dec. 2016). In an age of heightened political rhetoric and deepened ideological divide, what does it mean to identify as a feminist in a rural community? What does it mean to practice feminism in a rural community? How do those of us who teach in rural communities engage with the various definitions and practices of feminism in ways that best benefit our students?

This roundtable session explores how claiming a feminist identity—publicly, privately, and/or both—is negotiated by individuals who live/work in a rural community. Other questions we will consider: What definitions of feminism operate in rural communities? Do people who, in practice, embody feminism’s tenets yet publicly deny the label contribute to the reinforcement of structural patriarchy—or perhaps help to spark its implosion? How do race, ethnicity and class intersect to impact rural feminisms? What dangers exist for those who claim and/or practice feminisms in rural communities—especially in the classroom? How might feminism be practiced or understood in locations where, in the cultural imagination, gender roles and identity are often rigidly defined, but in daily life are often much more fluid and responsive to the practical demands of work, family needs and community concerns? Submit abstracts by September 30 at:

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