The hidden geography of feminism

Published March 31, 2014 by Kevin Ehrman-Solberg

It’s Map Monday. Today we have a custom map created by Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, a senior history major at Augsburg and one of the student interns at the Historyapolis Project for 2014.

Since the eighteenth century, feminism has inspired women to re-imagine personal relationships, institutional structures and public spaces. This map shows how this movement transformed the urban landscape of Minneapolis in the 1960s and 1970s, when thousands of local women took inspiration from second wave feminism to remake the city.

The map pinpoints some of the feminist experiments and initiatives of this period, using green pins to locate businesses, blue pins to commemorate protests, red pins to remember activist hotspots and yellow pins to show other sites of significance for this feminist era in the city.

The map includes the Amazon bookstore and A Woman’s Coffee House, nationally-known institutions that served as women-only sites for socializing and consciousness-raising. It points out the resource centers created by women to address issues like pornography and domestic violence. And it illuminates how women appropriated places that had been traditionally dominated by men. Click on the map points to learn more.

Feminist collaboration was never simple. But the “sex wars” of the early 1980s ushered in a new age of conflict for feminists, especially in Minneapolis, where battles over pornography, sexual exploitation and sexual violence consumed the entire community. These emotional skirmishes ended this earlier period of giddy experimentation.

Most social movements have been commemorated in some way on the urban landscape of the city. But feminism has no monument, unless you count the statue of television character Mary Tyler Moore on Nicollet Mall. This map helps to see the now invisible legacy of powerful revolution, which reshaped every aspect of life in the city.