How to deconstruct the gaze on the city to include instead of marginalizing? From Leslie Kern to gender-disrupted data analysis, an invitation to question the 'neutral' vision of the urban environment

The space is not neutral, as the gaze of those who design urban solutions is never neutral. Systemic adherence to dominant social categories and structures is mistaken for neutrality.

Criado Perez, activist and author of the book Invisibili in which she reinterprets the data from a gender perspective, argues that "when planners do not take gender into account, public spaces become default male spaces".

Let's face it: urban space is a very powerful normalization vector. Even in common parlance, spatial metaphors are used to define what is 'right' and what is 'out of place'. In our historical epoch in which reflections on the mechanisms of privilege and exclusion are opening up, it is urgent to question ourselves.

Who is entitled to the city? What social structure does it reflect? Who is being pushed to the sidelines? With what biases or negatives is it designed? Asking these questions requires a new gaze, aware of how space is the mirror and agent of patriarchal social structures - let's use this word as well - and that deconstruction is required through lenses of feminist and intersectional observation.

"What would an urban future be like with maximum assistance? - invites us to question Leslie Kern activist and teacher in her book The feminist city published by Treccani - A future based on the needs , on the demands and wishes of women of color, disabled, queer, single mothers, elderly women, indigenous women and above all on the needs of those women in whom all these identities intertwine? "

Recently published, Milano Gender Atlas - research edited by Florencia Andreola and Azzurra Muzzonigro of Sex & amp; The City - looks at the city from a gender point of view to stimulate the planning of contexts suitable for all bodies: women, men, non-binary people, girls and boys, children, the elderly, the disabled.

The research deals with the theme of fear in public space, the presence of female figures in the symbolic and public sphere, the use of the city, services and informal networks seen through the lens of care work ( still unbalanced by the female gender).

"The feminist city is one in which the barriers - physical and social - are dismantled and all bodies are welcomed and hosted in the same way.

The feminist city focuses on assistance, not because it should remain a job exclusively for women but because the city has the potential to distribute it more evenly." - this is the summary of Leslie Kern - "The feminist city must take inspiration from the creative tools that women have always used to support each other and find ways to recreate that support within the urban fabric itself".

In deconstruction there is, in fact, a creative act towards imaginaries, languages, dimensions, desires and emotions: we must re-master the ability to imagine the spaces we live in and claim an active role in the definition of services and places public.

According to Federica Castelli and Serena Olcuire of IAPH Italia "The city is not a static datum, it can also be a space for expression, creation, reinvention; the subjects create it and recreate it incessantly with their relationships and their crossings; the city is contingent and constantly changing.

Therefore, inventing collective practices can really turn the scene around. Putting bodies at the center, desire rather than fear, collective practices rather than surveillance devices, creating alliances between unforeseen subjects: through these (and other) paths passes the re-meaning and re-appropriation of roads ".

It is necessary to design with gaze and empathy which does not think of a single user but who listens and welcomes complexity to meet different needs. It is necessary to value spontaneous experiences and feminist principals - such as the experiences of Lucha Y Siesta in Rome, of the self-managed nursery.

Soprasotto in Milan, the plans of the RebelArchitette group, the experiments of participatory budgets or tactical urban planner active in numerous cities or of grassroots movements such as Take Back the Night, the Pride Strikes in India, the Slutwalks and the protests of #Cuéntalo.

All these examples intervene in filling the gaps in city services and in claiming the rights of women and other groups marginalized from the urban space.

Is there a recipe for transforming urban devices into inclusive environments? No, but back to Leslie Kern "if we begin to understand that the city is set up to support a particular way of organizing society - through gender, race, sexuality and more - we can begin to search new possibilities.

There are endless options for creating alternative spaces. The feminist city is an ambitious project, without a 'master' plan. The feminist city is a continuous experiment to live in a different, better, more just way in an urban world".