The Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) at Rice University is pleased to invite contributions to the Rice Feminist Forum. Now more than ever feminist voices are needed to address the issues of our day. Several times a year, we will post a  prompt for a different topic and ask for contributions from Center faculty affiliates, graduate certificate students, undergraduate majors, Advisory Board members, and those outside the CSWGS community.

Our current topic is: SOCIAL DISTANCE.

We imagine many of you are “social distancing” at this very moment, and may well have something to say about the experience. We know that some of you, especially those who are taking care of children or other adults, may have even less free time than usual, but we also know that many people are looking for ways to share their ideas, concerns, and anxieties—and to hear from others in the community.

“Good fences make good neighbors.” So wrote Robert Frost in a poem first published in 1914, a few years before tens of millions would perish in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Today, our global attention is focused on COVID-19, and the distances we must keep between us in this present moment. The abundance of caution now organizing all our social lives echoes other plague histories: HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H1N1 are only among the most recent.

A 14th century image, Two lepers are denied entry into the city. One has crutches; the other is wearing Lazarus dress, handbag and rattle, to announce his coming.
A 14th century image, “Two lepers are denied entry into the city. One has crutches; the other is wearing Lazarus dress, handbag and rattle, to announce his coming.”

Feminists have long focused attention on the concepts of boundaries and safety. These central ideas take on new dimensions as we voluntarily curtail social contacts and as governments mandate  closing key social institutions. How does community function in virtual spaces? What new socialities could we generate in this present moment? What systems of power and privilege structure who has the capacity to reach out for human connection virtually from the safety of a domestic sanctuary? Who can afford to make that retreat, and who must instead risk exposure, willingly or not? How do lived experiences of loneliness and isolation interact with other aspects of our social being, including the political? Can collective writing projects like this blog in fact help to preserve and reproduce the communities we desire?

Submissions will be edited and posted as they come in. We hope to get contributions both from the CSWGS community and beyond. Please send all submissions to We will post all submissions that  our moderators deem on topic and appropriate for our audience. We accept submissions on a rolling basis, and will post submissions in groups as they are edited and approved. Please include a title for your piece, and please include a public domain or creative commons image that could accompany your blog post.