cover image Feminist City: Claiming Space in the Man-Made World

Feminist City: Claiming Space in the Man-Made World

Leslie Kern. Verso, $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-78873-981-8

In this insightful scholarly work, Kern (Sex and the Revitalized City), a professor of geography and environment at Mount Allison University, uses the framework of “feminist geography” to explore how women interact with and are affected by urban spaces. Contending that the structural realities and power dynamics of cities privilege white males, Kern shares her personal experiences as a college student “perform[ing] acts of safety and precaution” with female friends in Toronto, and as a stroller-pushing, multitasking mother attempting to navigate London’s public transportation system. She acknowledges that the space she inhabits as a white, able-bodied woman holds inherent privilege in relation to the experiences of women of color and disabled people, and notes that many things that make affluent white women feel safer, such as avoiding “dangerous” areas and increased policing, negatively impact the lives of sex workers, immigrants, queer people, and minorities, while doing nothing to abolish the patriarchy. Kern defends women’s experiences of fear as rational reactions to the urban environment, and hopes that increased representation among urban planners and policy makers will result in more inclusive cityscapes. Her mix of the personal and the academic reveals the nature of the problem, but offers few concrete answers. This provocative analysis will resonate with theoretically minded feminists. (June)