Tag Archives: Feminism

Is There a New Women’s Movement?

The day following the Inauguration of Donald Trump, an estimated 500,000 activists descended upon Washington D.C. to protest in opposition to the values of his administration. Similar marches were held in cities worldwide. There was controversy leading up to the event.  Women of color challenged the organization committee for lacking diversity and called for more intersectionality. Some white women resented the challenge and chose to stay home or threatened to do so.  The Women’s March was fraught with a long-standing issue within American feminist movement, how to unify across differences. The concerns of the activists were broad including: immigration reform, Black Lives Matter, anti-Muslim discrimination, reproductive rights, and climate change. What do we make of this historic event? Does this moment mark the beginning of a new women’s movement? If so, what are the issues of the new movement? Who is included? Excluded? What do we make of all those who participated? Is this movement intersectional? If so, how are the activists putting an intersectional women’s agenda into practice?

Special thanks to Guest Editor Daisy Reyes, who curated this exciting dialogue.

Thanks also to our wonderful group of contributors.

Michael T. Heaney, University of Michigan (essay)
Nancy Whittier, Smith College (essay)
Jo Reger, Oakland University (essay)

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

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Filed under New Women's Movement

Is the Women’s Movement New Again?

By Jo Reger

The Women’s Marches of 2017 and the anniversary marches of 2018 once again bring us to the question: Is the U.S. women’s movement new again, having gone through a decline, death and finally rebirth? Does this new mobilization mean the movement is new? This is not a new question. Throughout the history of the movement, pundits have continually recast feminism as “new,” as in another wave of activism (this time maybe the fourth or fifth wave but who is counting?) or as a movement born fresh and new, independent of its former self.  Media observer Jennifer Pozner coined the term “False Feminist Death Syndrome,” in response to the constant reports of feminism’s death. In the same vein, feminist scholar Mary Hawkesworth noted feminism’s reoccurring obituary, observing it was meant to annihilate feminism’s challenge to the status quo. Hawkesworth and Pozner encourage us to question the question – in other words, under what circumstances is a long-lived movement seen as new? Continue reading

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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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Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues

Feminism, Culture, and Computational Sociology

Recent social movements research that has excited and motivated me groups around three themes: 1) community-level effects on movements (Reger 2012, McAdam and Boudet 2012), 2) the path-dependent nature of movements (Blee 2012), and 3) the application of computational methods to study social movements (Hanna 2013) and culture (Bail 2013). My research fits loosely at this junction: I use computational methods to study the structure and culture of local social movements over time.

To do so I, like many others, conceive of local movements as fields. I formalize fields in two ways: a social field consists of 1) a structure—a set of actors that are in some way related to one another (DiMaggio and Powell 1983), and 2) a culture—taken-for-granted assumptions that both enable and constrain action (Jepperson 1991). While network analysis is an established way to measure structure, quantifying culture has proven more difficult. Continue reading

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Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Daily Disruption

Online Feminism: Who is Listening?

A few months ago PBS came out with the documentary “Makers: Women Who Make America,” which tells the story of the most sweeping social revolution in American history”, i.e. the women’s movement. It’s a wonderful video, and everyone should watch it. While it was generally lauded as a success, one of the sections, the section on “Feminism Today,” drew extensive critiques. In this section old arguments about contemporary feminism are repeated: most women today who do “feminist” things refuse the label feminist, younger women are apathetic and take for granted the rights that the past feminist movement won, etc. It adds the somewhat new claim that today’s active feminist movement focuses its energy on global issues rather than domestic issues.

A number of active feminists immediately critiqued the documentary’s take on the current women’s movement, in particular for missing the important work being done by younger feminists. One common critique is that the documentary did not even mention the vast world of online feminism. 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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