A Detailed Look at Women's Urban Experiences

In Feminist City, geographer Leslie Kern describes the often invisible ways in which cities are unwelcome to women. It's an essential look at the urban gender divide, and it passionately calls for gender equity in the planning profession.

1 minute read

August 18, 2020, 6:00 AM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310


Woman on Transit

Hernán Piñera / Flickr

"Feminist City explains the multiple ways that modern cities (primarily in North America) treat women. As with so many other shortcomings of 21st century life, that treatment is often inequitable and harrowing, through both design and disregard."

"The mythical character of the 'flaneuse,' based on the Parisian dandy of the late 1800s and popularized by the recent book of the same name by Lauren Elkind, does not fare well in Kern’s city. It’s not that women don’t enjoy strolling or that they aren’t astute observers of the urban scene. It’s hard, though, to people-watch when you have to keep an eye out for potential assailants and creeps."

"Her message is that thoughtful planners can and, eventually will, arrive at the feminist city as long as women’s voices get the attention they deserve. And Kern knows that cities are not zero-sum games. A city does not need to disadvantage men in order to advantage women. A city that is safer, more pleasant, and more equitable for women — whatever it may look like — can be safer, more pleasant, and more equitable for everyone."

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