Take Back The Fight

Organizing Feminism for the Digital Age

By Nora Loreto  

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Two decades of neoliberalism have destroyed a structured, pan-regional feminist movement in Canada. As a result, new generations of feminists have come to age without ever seeing the force that an organized social movement can have in democratic society. They have never benefited from the knowledge, the debates, the actions, the mass mobilizations or the leadership that all accompany a social movement and instead organize in decentralized silos. As a result, government and corporate leaders have co-opted feminism to turn it into something that can be bought, sold, or used to attract voters. Campaigns like #BeenRapedNeverReported, #MeToo, the SlutWalks and the Canadian Women’s marches, while important, don’t yet have the organized power to bring the changes that activists seek to make in society.

In Take Back The Fight, Nora Loreto examines the state of modern feminism in Canada and argues that feminists must organize to take back feminism from politicians, business leaders and journalists who distort and obscure its power. Furthermore, Loreto urges today’s activists to overcome the challenges that sank the movement decades ago, to stop centering whiteness as the quintessential woman’s experience, and to find ways to rebuild the communities that have been obliterated by neoliberal economic policies.

“Take Back the Fight is an excellent analysis of the rise and decline of second-wave feminism in Canada and in particular of the extraordinary National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Nora Loreto shows both the strengths and the weaknesses of Canada’s largest feminist organization, giving readers an anti-racist feminist view of that history and persuasively argues that we need a cross-country organization to unite feminist activists today. Thank you to Nora for making this important part of activist history come alive for readers and now be documented for history.”

— Judy Rebick, author of Ten Thousand Roses and former President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women 1990-1993

“Charting a tumultuous history of mainstream feminism, Nora Loreto’s Take Back the Fight is a clarion call for a large-scale, intersectional and radical feminist movement in Canada.”

— Harsha Walia, author of Undoing Border Imperialism

“Feminism Is a Verb”

— Review by Patricia Gélinas Boushel, Published in the Fall 2020 issue, Montreal Review of Books

  • EPUB
  • ISBN: 9781773632933
  • October 2020
  • For sale worldwide
  • PDF
  • ISBN: 9781773634272
  • October 2020
  • For sale worldwide
  • Kindle
  • ISBN: 9781773632940
  • October 2020
  • For sale worldwide

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Reviews

  • Keenly attuned to our current moment’s ethical timbre, Loreto is unflinchingly committed to presenting feminism’s anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist imperative. She makes the connection between societal struggles and the possibilities of a truly emancipatory feminist movement that gathers all people under its cover in solidarity. For instance, if caring for children is one of the basic tenets of feminism, then we must organize to make our governments consider all children, placing issues such as Indigenous healthcare and access to drinking water as central to its work. Canada’s historically white feminism is consistently shaken up to reveal its narrow scope and harmful limitations.

    — Montreal Review of Books, Fall 2020 (full review)

  • When did feminism become a brand, a hashtag, or a campaign slogan?

    When did feminism become “something that we can buy or sell, a self-identity or a lifestyle rather than a political orientation through which to organize against the status quo?”

    These are the kinds of hard-hitting questions journalist and activist Nora Loreto tackles in her latest book, Take Back the Fight—a book that dares to imagine what a truly liberatory feminist movement might look like and that isn’t afraid to point out where mainstream feminism falls short.

    “I was driven to write Take Back the Fight by the desire to understand how feminism ended up here: a word that can be used by politicians and corporations alike who feel little shame about contorting or obscuring feminism to be something that either scores political points or attracts buyers,” Loreto explains in the introduction to her book.

    — Ann Douglas, December 2020 (full review)

  • Perhaps Loreto’s most important point is this: “Feminism can no longer be understood by some as a struggle for minor changes that benefit only a few, and a new feminist movement must change opinions so that people come to understand this. Challenging the status quo is hard work, and we need to find a way to organize a feminist network that is capable of confronting Canada’s status quo, especially as the far-right rises, fuelled by misogynistic and racist rhetoric and violence.” Take Back the Fight takes an unflinching look at the failures of feminism’s past and present, but it also offers a hopeful look at its future. I hope it becomes mandatory reading for young feminists across the country.

    — Rayne Fisher-Quann, rabble.ca (full review)

Contents

  • Introduction: If Mainstream Feminism Says Everything Can Be Feminist, Is Anything Feminist?
  • White Supremacy and the First Feminist Waves in Canada
  • Neoliberalism and Decentralized Activism
  • Feminism in the Digital Era
  • Social Movement Organizations as a Vehicle for Change
  • Debating and Re-debating What is Feminism
  • Disseminating Feminist Knowedge in the Digital Era
  • Ad Hoc Organizing in the Digital Age
  • Accountable Leadership
  • Feminist Opposition to Power
  • Mainstreaming Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Racist Feminism
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Index

Authors

  • Nora Loreto

    Nora Loreto is a writer and activist from Quebec City who writes regularly for Passage, the National Observer, the Washington Post and many other online and print publications. Together with Sandy Hudson, she hosts Sandy and Nora Talk Politics, one of Canada’s most popular news and analysis podcasts. Nora’s latest book is Take Back the Fight: Organizing Feminism for the Digital Age.

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