Author Archives: Alison Dahl Crossley

Feminist Continuity within Institutions of Higher Education

Feminism in the U.S. has endured over dramatic changes in historical, political, and cultural contexts. Although existing scholarship on the modern women’s movement has highlighted variations in mobilizing structures and dynamics, we know little about the characteristics, identities, and tactical repertoires of feminist movements today. My research on young feminists expands the existing theories that have sought to understand social movement continuity (Taylor 1989) and the changing forms and sites of women’s movement mobilization (Ferree and Mueller 2004; Staggenborg and Taylor 2005; Taylor 1996; Reger 2012; Whittier 1996).

I ask larger questions regarding the incorporation of social movements within institutions, the complexities of collective identities given the prominence of coalitions and movement cross-over, the changing dynamics of movements over time, and the multiple dimensions through which context and “place” alter movement culture. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Hybrid Activism: A Compelling Argument by Heaney and Rojas

Organizational hybridity, when organizations cross the boundaries of several social movements, benefits a range of movements. Previous research has demonstrated the positive dimensions of hybridity in feminist and antiwar movements, for example. But could such hybridity also serve to dilute movement ideologies? How exactly does hybridity shape movements and their participants? Under what conditions does hybridity aid or detract from mobilization?

In “Hybrid Activism: Social Movement Mobilization in a Multimovement Environment” (American Journal of Sociology, January 2014), Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas examine hybrid antiwar organizations in an effort to understand the mechanisms of movement hybridity. The authors gathered survey data at “all of the national or nationally coordinated antiwar protest events held in the United State between January 2007 and December 2009,”organizational data such as web content of hybrid organizations, and interview data with activists. Continue reading

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Obama’s Big Shout Out to Student Activists

I cannot remember the last time the president of the U.S. praised feminist activists. Has it ever happened? Color me surprised when last week, Obama said the “inspiring wave of student led activism” motivated him to create the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Okay, so the president didn’t praise feminist activists per se, but feminists have been mobilized around this issue for decades.

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Citing the figure that one in five women college students have been sexually assaulted, Obama is giving the task force ninety days to come up with suggestions and initiatives to reduce sexual assault and improve compliance with existing policies. In the last few years, several U.S. colleges have been outed as stymying sexual assault reporting. As evidence mounted about the widespread lack of reporting and mishandling of sexual assault cases by administrators, college activists pressured the federal government to respond and to comply with Title IX.  Despite affecting millions of us, never has the issue of sexual assault been given such national attention. Continue reading

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“Queering Marriage” Examines Same-Sex Wedding Protests, Institution of Marriage

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Chances are, you remember the flurry of news coverage about San Francisco’s 2004 same-sex weddings, in which over 4,000 same-sex couples wed. In news images, throngs of men and women lined up outside city hall. Jubilant couples radiated with anticipation of becoming legally wed. Brides posed with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Soon, protests for the legalization of same-sex marriage emerged across California and the United States. The excitement was palpable and change was in the air. But, if you were like many people, you may have wondered: Are the same-sex couples who are so passionately fighting to get married motivated by love and devotion to their partners? Is it as an act of protest to gain the rights and privileges bestowed upon different-sex couples? Or, does same-sex marriage uphold heteronormativity or challenge it? Continue reading

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Film and Webcast Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. The commission and the 1963 report drew national attention to the issue of women’s status in the U.S. It brought to the fore long-standing discussions and tensions about women’s rights, and sparked additional feminist mobilization.

Would you like to brush up on your history of the commission and view footage of President Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt discussing women’s rights? Check out the short film “American Women: A Presidential Commission” (http://vimeo.com/77168113).

To honor the anniversary, the Department of Labor is hosting a panel discussion/webcast on the status of women in today’s economy. It is on December 10 at 9 am est. (http://www.dol.gov/dol/media/webcast/live/). [Note: Webcast cancelled due to inclement weather in Washington D.C., post will be updated when new date is announced]

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New book “Occupy the Future” captures tensions and looks towards the future

The editors of the Occupy the Future (2013, Boston Review), Stanford faculty David B. Grusky, Doug McAdam, Rob Reich, and Debra Satz, were involved in an Occupy teach-in at Stanford. Short versions of the essays were initially posted online as preparation for the teach-in, and contributors then expanded their essays for Occupy the Future. Building on the momentum of the Occupy movement, the book “offers a broader framework for understanding why rising inequality is the core problem of our time.” According to Rob Reich, contributors were asked to examine the cleavages between American values and practices. Chapters examine economic gender inequality (Shelley J. Correll), educational inequality (Sean F. Reardon), art and Occupy (Michele Elam and Jennifer DeVere Brody) and the language of social justice (H. Samy Alim), among others. Doug McAdam’s chapter looks to the future of Occupy. He argues that Occupy, in its present state, should not be called a social movement, but “in light of the economic and political stakes, this is a challenge worthy of our efforts.” For those of you who are interested in the persistence of Occupy and what top scholars in their fields have to say about it, you should certainly check it out.

Mobilizing Ideas essay also hosted an essay dialogue in January of 2012 on Occupy.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a Social Movement Teaching Tool

It is October, and you know what that means. The color pink is everywhere. Perhaps you were tempted to purchase a pink ribbon bracelet or t-shirt at the department store. Your favorite NFL team may be wearing pink jerseys on game day. If you reside in Detroit, a pink tow truck may have towed your car. Maybe you even enjoyed a Susan B. Komen sponsored pink bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken during their ill-fated “Buckets for the Cure” campaign. The proceeds of these products are said to raise awareness about breast cancer. Critics argue that focusing on awareness is less useful than funding research on breast cancer prevention or causes. Plenty of people have eloquently critiqued said pinkwashing. But have you incorporated it into your classrooms this month? I found it to be a useful teaching tool for undergraduates. Continue reading

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California State Senate Passes Domestic Worker Bill of Rights

After years of mobilization by domestic workers and their allies, the California State Senate approved the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights on September 11, 2013. It is a major milestone for the national and local organizers that have fought for the regulation of domestic work.

The AB241 bill is now in the hands of the assembly for another vote. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2012.

If the bill were signed into law, it would provide domestic workers with overtime pay when they work over 45 hours in a week. Proponents of the bill argue that domestic workers are vulnerable to abuse and underpay. This is attributed to the fact that domestic workers are mostly women and oftentimes recent immigrants. Because the work takes place behind closed doors, enforcement is a challenge. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, opponents of the bill maintain that it would burden families with increased costs for domestic works, and potentially harm the children and elderly who rely on workers’ long hours. Continue reading

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What can twitter tell us about feminism?

In August 2013 the feminist twitter-sphere lit up with thousands of tweets bearing the hashtag “solidarity is for white women.” NPR article “Twitter Sparks A Serious Discussion About Race and Feminism” outlines the emergence and trajectory of the hashtag.

According to the article, after #solidarityisforwhitewomen was first tweeted by blogger Mikki Kendall on August 12, it rapidly gained traction.  During the twitter debates, feminists of color described their absence from “big name feminism” and their lack of inclusion in online feminist dialogue. White women chimed in. Some defended themselves, others acknowledged the importance of the conversation and encouraged their white feminist peers to just listen.

As writer/blogger Roxane Gay wrote: “The #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag reveals fractures in American feminism. Those fractures run so…deep it’s hard to believe they can be healed.” Continue reading

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