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Feminism and Development

Building the Discipline or Politicising It?

David Lempert

Although initial contributions of Women's Studies to the field of Development Studies were to question existing concepts and assumptions and to offer new models and inclusive approaches, it appears that contemporary scholarship has shifted entirely (and even unapologetically) into political advocacy with little further in the way of social science or fresh critique and modelling. In Development Studies, Applied Anthropology and possibly in other subfields where gender concerns are presented in 'single-variable' or 'interest-group' perspectives, it may now be time to return to earlier goals through a depoliticisation of 'Feminist' and 'Women's' Studies, appropriately integrating 'Gender Studies' and concerns into subfields in ways that promote holistic advance of those fields. The essay uses two recent books with alternative examinations of feminism in developing societies – one on the area of 'development' and one on relations of two 'developed' countries, the U.S. and Russia – as springboards for a discussion of what has gone wrong and what can be changed in the sub-field of gender and Development Studies.

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Feminism and Feminist History-Writing in Turkey

The Discovery of Ottoman Feminism

Serpil Çakır

The formation of a feminist consciousness and memory in Turkey coincided with a historical period in which both social movements and academic studies proliferated. Towards the end of the 1980s, the increasing number of women's organisations and publications began to impact upon both the feminist movement and academic research in the area of women's studies. This, combined with the expansion of the civil societal realm, has resulted in many topics and issues related to women becoming part of the public discussion, thereby contributing to the development of a new feminist consciousness. This article discusses the impact of the work in the field of women's history and the ensuing discovery of an Ottoman feminism on the formation of such a feminist consciousness and memory in Turkey.

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Ritty Lukose

This article explores what it means to decolonize feminism in the university today. Pushing against the idea that feminism in the university is disengaged from broader struggles, the article suggests a complex relationship between feminism as a knowledge project and as a political one. While feminism has had a long-standing decolonizing imperative within the university, equally challenging has been the decolonization of feminism. The #MeToo era has foregrounded the universalizing horizon of feminism, posing new challenges for this project. Arguing for a more complex understanding of generations and the politics of location in these debates, the article draws on a recent and not so recent feminist archive, such as the articulation of ideas of intersectionality and the ways in which multiple feminisms have been understood, in order to explore decolonizing feminism today.

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Reclaiming Feminism

A Qualitative Investigation of Language Usage by Girls in a High School Women's Studies Course

Jennifer L. Martin

This article examines the impact of women's studies on at-risk high school girls. This analysis was conducted within a larger intervention study examining the effect of women's studies on levels of sexual harassment within the school. As a teacher researcher, I observed that students were embracing terms traditionally degrading to women so I then began to study the language usage of the students in the course as a separate study. I assessed changes in the language usage of students and observed the evolution of their language. It became, as the course progressed, more egalitarian and em powered as they embraced feminist principles.

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Rachel Mesch

This article considers the role of men in a form of feminist expression promoted in women's magazines and novels during the Belle Epoque. “Belle Epoque literary feminism,“ as I have termed it, was characterized by a desire to reconcile gender equality with traditional gender roles, outside of political channels; it was also, I argue, defined by male participation. Focusing on a widespread effort to modernize marriage, the article examines both men and women's discussions of marital equality in the influential women's magazines Femina and La Vie Heureuse; it then considers the role assigned to men in realizing feminist marriage in two popular women's novels, Marcelle Tinayre's La Rebelle and Louise Marie Compain's L'Un vers l'autre.

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Communist Feminism

The Unfulfilled Possibilities of a Difficult Relationship

Jane Slaughter

Recent pronouncements of the swift and painful death of Marxism, and repeated debates over the demise of feminism, or the meaning of neo-feminism or post-feminism, make the discussion of the relationship between communism and feminism an important one. Given the events of 1989 and the twists and turns of more recent global politics, understanding the history of the past relationships between these two ideologies and movements might help us to determine whether there is still life in these two movements, and whether they can overcome their differences to create a synthesis that is more than the sum of its parts. As an historian I would like to consider these issues by looking at the past and listening to what others have had to say about them. As a feminist I will occasionally insert some of my own ideas and judgements into the discussion.

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Alice A. Jardine

“What Feminism?” is an extended reflection upon several generations of readers of Simone de Beauvoir, including those readers the author herself has been, from the early 1960s to the present. Of particular interest are the serious readers of Beauvoir since her death in 1986, as opposed to the many detractors who have worked hard to tarnish Beauvoir's productive influence. Among the many groups of such serious readers there are, for example, the social theorist feminists such as Susan Buck Morss; the postcolonial/transnational feminist philosophers such as Chandra Mohanty; the poststructuralist-inspired feminist writers such as Teresa Brennan; and the queer/trans readers such as Judith Butler. What we learn from them is that, going forward, the important thing is to keep excavating the deep structures of Beauvoir's thought so as to forge new pathways for new generations to address the obviously gendered and more than sobering global crises of the twenty-first century.

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Marilyn J. Boxer

Today, to a historian of the relationship of European socialism to feminism, Mihaela Miroiu’s assertion that, despite the existence of ‘islands of feminism’ in communist regimes, there was no ‘communist feminism’ comes as no surprise. But in the heyday of the 1970s women’s liberation movement, very many feminists would have argued otherwise! Although the term ‘communist feminism’ itself was (and is) rarely heard, ‘socialist feminism’ exercised a powerful, formative influence in ‘the West’, as evidenced by the widespread admiration of testimony drawn from Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, and the USSR of Lenin and his successors.

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“Stumbling Upon Feminism”

Teenage Girls’ Forays into Digital and School-Based Feminisms

Crystal Kim and Jessica Ringrose

In this article, we discuss a case study of a feminist society in a girls’ secondary school in England, highlighting how teenage girls use social media to combat sexism. Considering the recent growth of feminist societies in UK schools, there is still a lack of research documenting how young feminists use social media’s feminist content and connections. Addressing this gap, we draw on interviews and social media analyses to examine how girls navigate feminisms online and in school. Despite their multifaceted use of social media, the girls in our research undervalued digital feminism as valid or valued, in large part because of dismissive teacher and peer responses. We conclude by suggesting that schools need to cultivate social media as a legitimate pedagogical space by developing informed adult support for youth engagement with social justice-oriented online content.

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Feminism and Communism

Notes on the Greek Case

Angelika Psarra

If we want to situate the Greek case in a wider discussion as to whether the notion of a ‘Communist Feminism’ constitutes a contradiction in terms, it would be productive, in my view, to shift the question to focus on those aspects which might help us clarify the features specific to Greek history. As is widely known, communism in Greece has not been part of the political establishment and has been subject to harsh and systematic persecutions throughout the twentieth century. Consequently, the question is whether we can characterise the Greek version of communist theory and praxis, as it was expressed by the main source of communist ideas in Greece, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), as ‘feminist’ in any way. To answer this question, however, we should first define exactly what we mean by the term feminist, or whether feminism also includes a communist constituent.