Mapping fragmented movements

As many of you have already read, I’ve been organizing a summit focused on challenging the toxic culture that makes girls and women hate their own bodies. The shared goal of the five summits around the world, taking place this March, is to collaborate on an international campaign. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about movement building.

As I’ve written before, I think the organic and evolving state of feminism is fragmented. There is no discrete or unified “women’s movement” any longer, that is, if there ever really was one (seems that this stuff is always overstated in retrospect). The same can be said of the “body image” activism movement. There are so many incredible activists, educators, survivors, writers etc. doing great work all over the world, but we’re not necessarily coordinated, much less aware of one another’s work.

I’m okay with the fragmentation. I think it’s sort of an inevitable bi-product of the spread of a truly intersectional movement, and further, a sign of real success in a lot of ways. Some redundancy is bound to take place when it comes to such widespread issues.

What I’ve become unsatisfied with lately, however, isn’t the fragmentation of the movement, but the relative invisibility of it. If we don’t see one another, and get in communication about best practices and shared challenges, how can we take advantage of the power of our networks on a larger scale? As the summit is devoted to movement building and linking organizations doing similar courageous work internationally, I’ve been imagining a giant map of the movement.

I’ve a visual person, so the idea of some kind of mapping tool for movements thrills me to no end. So far, my attempts to do so have been pretty elementary. Does anyone have recommendations of other movement maps or practices?

Join the Conversation

  • Nina

    Movement mapping sounds like a really interesting concept. I know you said that this was a pretty elementary attempt, but my first thought upon seeing this map was, “where does ethnic media or media produced by POC fit into a map like this?”

  • Sarah

    Check out Not in Our Town, mapping communities standing up against hate.

  • Rachel

    I think that elementary ideas are sometimes the best ones. You need something that’s easy to understand and to use. Saying that, I think your idea is awesome!

    I want to start a type of public speaking business where I’m talking about young people (hopefully high school students) about the media influences that tell us what normal masculinity and femininity look like. I’ve been trying to find out if someone else is doing that same type of work so that we can connect and I could maybe get some advice on how to get going. I think a map like this would be so helpful in being able to network.