Group portrait of the collective Sister Outsider, members from left to right: Tania Leon, Gloria Wekker, Joice Spies, Tieneke Sumter, in front of the [Flamboyant National Black and Migrant Women’s Centre], Amsterdam, 1986, photo: unknown. Source: Archive Tania Leon, Collection IAV-Atria
Book presentation of "Zwart aan zet" [Black Moves] by Grace Stulting during the Vrouwenboekenweek [Women’s Book Week], at the Vrouwenboekhandel De Feeks [Women’s Bookstore De Feeks], Nijmegen, 1985, photo: An Stalpers. Source: Fotografica Nijmegen
Feminists rely on encounters to form networks of solidarity and friendship in order to substantiate their activisms. Telling the stories of their 'everyday' experiences and relating these to the structural inequalities present in society aids collective consciousness raising. In a hostile climate where these experiences are easily ignored or downplayed, the echoing of these stories, along with the mentioning of the person or collective who made these points, is a strategy called 'amplification'.
Dutch second wave feminists made themselves heard and seen by reclaiming public space through performing interventions, such as publicly burning a corset (1970) - one of the many disruptions of 'normal' life by Dolle Mina, an early feminist action group - or a national women's strike (Vrouwenstaking, 1981). Next to these symbolic actions, aimed at raising awareness about the discrimination against women, much feminist effort was made to find 'each other'. Whether building a collective, a foundation, or a small support or talking group, any form of networking built the necessary basis to find common languages, interests and points of references.
However, the very act of finding feminist kin and being recognised for one's specific experiences could be more precarious for some women than for other, dependent on their privileges in Dutch society at large. One of the groups who faced many obstacles were women from diasporic communities, and often first-generation migrants, for example from former Dutch colonies (such as Surinam, the Antilles, Indonesia), who had to cope with the countless ways in which racism compromised their lives, also within feminist circles. By the late 1970s, they had started forming their own feminist networks and contributed to the rise of international feminist alliances. When searching for these under-narrated herstories through our contemporary lens, the many initiatives by Black women and women of colour in the Netherlands are a great inspiration and knowledge source for intersectional feminist approaches and legacies.