It has been humbling to be the editor of one the few Rhetoric and Composition journals dedicated to feminist work, throughout the Trump administration and now during the global protests working to validate, celebrate, and at least ensure that Black Lives Matter in the U.S. Regardless of my personal scholarship and political commitments, I have viewed my editorial mission to expand the definition of feminist work in the field through the submissions and publications in Peitho.
At this moment, I am reflecting and asking myself: is that enough? Is the move toward inclusion of BIPOC authors and scholarship merely a mark of performative allyship rather than authentic allyship? And if it is, what else can I do as a journal editor to challenge that model, so that I am not implicitly gatekeeping and maintaining the status quo. Regardless of my vision for Peitho, it is still a journal that follows academic convention. And by its very inception, as we have seen in the brave accounts posted in #BlackinTheIvory, the academy is built on the principles of white supremacy. So no matter how much we try to open the gates, those gates always already belong to the power base.
Therefore in my final year as editor, I want to continue to question what it means to be a feminist in our field by asking all contributors to think about the following:
- How does your scholarship engage with or intervene in historical or current systems of oppression?
- Who are you citing? Are you citing feminists of color?
- How can we engage history, rhetoric, writing to work to dismantle systems of oppression that create vast inequalities in our field, our country, and the world?
I recognize these are big questions, but nevertheless they are important ones. And I believe it is the responsibility of all of us doing feminist scholarly work in our current political moment. Regardless if we look at historical figures and texts, or current political movements, we all need to be thinking about how our work can engage with the larger critiques being made across disciplines of
In the upcoming journals, we are demonstrating how Peitho is working to shift the conversations around feminism and history in our field. In our current issue there is the new Recoveries and Reconsiderations section, which Wendy Sharer will discuss more in her introduction to the section. I am hopeful that this section is a space to begin conversations about the field’s history and how we can re-center our own historical narratives. Our next Summer Special Issue is devoted to Transgender Rhetorics and will be published on August 15th. KJ Rawson and GPat Paterson have put together an issue that will help us think through questions of gender, activism, and responsibility in important ways. And in our Fall 2020 issue we will have a special article cluster commemorating Rhetorical Listening, with an Introduction by Krista Ratcliff and a Response by Cheryl Glenn, all edited by Timothy Oleksiak.
Each of these sections and issues are sites where we can begin conversations on what it means to be a feminist, in composition and rhetoric and in the greater world. And it is my hope that these conversations will create spaces where we can continue to speak truth to power in Peitho, instead of merely gatekeep the conventions of the academy. We have a lot of work to do, and I intend to make space for that work in this journal during my last year as editor.
Stay Safe, Be Well, Keep Fighting.