A new documentary on the women’s movement in the 1960s, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, is screening around the country and is available on DVD for instruction use. The film includes a lot of fascinating, previously unreleased footage from the early years of the 2nd Wave feminist movement, as well as new interviews with individuals integral to its founding.
The film is compelling in part because it demonstrates how ideas about gender that now feel common sense were revolutionary not long ago, while also underscoring the fact that the movement’s work is still incomplete. It is also interesting to see how proud those interviewed are of their involvement in the early years of the movement and how much it shaped the rest of their lives. Finally, the documentary provides a unique glimpse into the internal dynamics and disagreements within the movement during these early years. Continue reading
Whittier, Nancy. 2009. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotion, Social Movements, and the State. Oxford University Press.
It seems like a hard sell to convince academics to spend some of their “free” time in the summer reading books that center on the sexual assault of women and children. Yet, I find myself attempting this because of my certainty in quality of these two books; Danielle McGuire’s beautifully written At The Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance (2010, Random House) and Nancy Whittier’s incredibly intelligent The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotions, Social Movements and the State (2009, Oxford). Note: I have met Danielle McGuire and I am friends with my graduate school colleague Nancy Whittier. So while I have connected with these authors personally, my goal here is to focus on the intellectual and emotional connection I have with each of their books (knowing them personally is just an added benefit).
So why should you read these books? First, taken together they underscore the importance and often overlooked issue of sexual assault in the study of movements. McGuire, a historian, retells the story of the origins of the civil rights movements through the epidemic of rapes of black women. Starting with anti-rape activism of Rosa Parks, McGuire tells a compelling and sometimes horrifyingly detailed story of the rapes, assaults, and murders of black women in a time when it was “open season” for white men to go “hunting.” Starting (and ending) with the story of Recy Taylor, McGuire carefully traces these cases and the grassroots organizing that sprung up around them, eventually coalescing in an infrastructure that carried the movement forward. Continue reading
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and many of my friends had Facebook posts about the radical anti-war origins of this holiday.
In 1870 feminist Julia Ward Howe penned the anti-war “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” which begins:
Arise then … women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
To account for the emergence of social movements one rarely starts with these movements themselves but instead with their context and/or creators – treated as explanations for mobilization. In terms of context, for example, differing economic and/or political resources, favorable political opportunity structures, developing protest cycles or networking have served to explain movement mobilization. In terms of creators, successful movement organizing or mobilizing have been explained by, for example, the “right” decisions of the “movement entrepreneurs” to invest limited movement resources, the capacity of “movement intellectuals” to produce and disseminate new knowledge, the ability of the leaders to “frame” reality to fit that of the potential movement members while emphasizing the urgency and the efficacy of collective action, etc.
From the emotions perspective the context is constituted by the relations of domination and their emotional underpinnings. Let me illustrate. Continue reading