Activism against Sexual Violence is Central to a New Women’s Movement: Resistance to Trump, Campus Sexual Assault, and #metoo

By Nancy Whittier

Sexual violence and harassment have been central issues in almost every era of women’s organizing and they are central to a contemporary women’s movement that both builds on and differs from earlier activism. Since 2010, a new generation of activists has targeted sexual violence in new ways. Slutwalks, a theatrical form of protest against the idea that women provoke rape by their dress, brought a new spin to long-standing “Take Back the Night” marches against violence against women. The wave of activism grew as college students began speaking out about assault on campus and gained a broad platform through social media. Students protested institutional failures to follow procedures for addressing sexual assault and used symbolic tactics to highlight the issue. For example, in 2014/15, Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz carried her dorm room mattress everywhere as a protest against Columbia’s inaction after she reported sexual assault. “Carry That Weight,” her project title, became the name for an emerging activist group. Another, “No Red Tape,” led to a cross-campus day of action in which activists attached pieces of red tape to clothes or campus statues. Continue reading

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The New Wave of the Women’s Movement in the United States

By Michael T. Heaney

The facts about the mobilization of women’s movement in the United States over the past 14 months are fairly well established.  A new organization calling itself the “Women’s March” formed shortly after the 2016 presidential election.  It coordinated massive rallies, consisting mostly of liberal women and their allies, in Washington, DC and around the world.  These rallies reached across diverse interests and were among the largest internationally coordinated demonstrations in history.  The Women’s March has retained its momentum over the past year, staging a national convention in Detroit in October 2017, and then reprising its post-inauguration performance this past weekend with rallies in hundreds of cities under the slogan “power to the polls”.  On the heels of the Women’s March, the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund arose to address widespread sexual harassment and assault.  These efforts have spurred the national conversation on the inappropriate treatment of women in the workplace.  Millions of people have joined Pantsuit Nation and other internet discussion forums that discuss gender and politics.  Indeed, the women’s movement has been a palpable force in American politics and society since the 2016 election. Continue reading

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Informing Activists: How do I support movements in other countries?

Dana Moss

How do I support movements in other countries?

Classic Reading:
Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Contemporary: 
Moss, Dana M. 2016. “Transnational repression, diaspora mobilization, and the case of the Arab Spring.” Social Problems 63(4): 480-498.
Review: 
Smith, Jackie. 2004 “Transnational Processes and Movements” Pp. 311-36 in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, edited by D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule and H. Kriesi. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

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White Supremacists go to College: New Tactics, Same Old White Supremacy

By Abby Ferber

The landscape of organized white supremacy has dramatically changed since I conducted my research for White Man Falling: Race, Gender and White Supremacy in the 1990s. At that time, most organized white supremacist groups were isolated, disconnected, disorganized, and difficult to follow. They seemed to be easily identifiable as “extremist.” Since that time, the broad contours of White supremacist ideology appears to be the only thing unchanged. Continue reading

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A Long View on the Alt-Right’s Doomed Emergence From the Shadows

By David Cunningham

August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where more than a thousand white nationalist adherents conducted a torch-lit march chanting “white lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us” before provoking widespread street violence the following day, was viewed widely as a watershed moment for the burgeoning Alt-Right. As the “largest hate gathering of its kind in decades in the United States,” the Charlottesville rally demonstrated that the diffuse movement – whose vibrancy had been most prominently displayed online – could mobilize in large numbers in physical space. It also showcased a level of organization that seemed far from ad hoc, and a set of media-ready male leaders who sought to embody the modern white supremacist brand: clean-cut, neatly dressed, with coifed “fashy” haircuts. Continue reading

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Why the reduction of racial disparities and expansion of Black mobilization would incapacitate the alt-right

By Kim Ebert

Many of us were introduced to empirical research on racism through popular psychology, which suggests that racism is an individual-level problem among whites. The idea is that racism stems from prejudice, which is “an antipathy based on a faulty and inflexible generalization,” meaning that it’s negative and hostile, irrational, rigid, and inaccurate. According to this perspective, prejudice may be “felt or expressed;” it can involve both the intent to discriminate and actual discrimination. To “cure” white racism and to solve this prejudice problem, then, we should endorse more education, training, and diversity initiatives. Such initiatives would expose individuals to accurate and scientific information, replacing antagonistic and inaccurate information with harmony and truth, resulting in the reduction of prejudice. Policy initiatives that take this approach may address interracial conflict, but what about the underlying racial inequality? Continue reading

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The Alt-Right

In our second month discussing the alt-right, we have additional contributors.

Donald Trump’s recent rise to power has put a spotlight on what has come to be known as the “alt-right.”  Yet the alt-right proceeded the Trump campaign and has, perhaps, contributed to Trump’s victory and also benefited from its close ties with the White House.  This dialogue invites social scientists to comment on its causes, consequences, and its likely trajectory.  What can social movement scholars learn from this movement?  What has contributed to its successes?  What limitations to future growth does it face (if any)?  What type of people are most likely to be attracted to the alt-right, and why?  How can this movement be resisted?  How severe is the threat posed by the movement?  How should progressives respond to the way in which the alt-right prompts debate and contention over the line between hate speech and free speech?

Many thanks to our wonderful group of contributors.

Abby Ferber, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (essay)
David Cunningham, Washington University in St. Louis (essay)
Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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