During the Soviet regime the meaning of International Women’s Day (IWD) in Ukraine changed dramatically: its original feminist essence was substituted with communist propaganda aimed at women’s mobilization for the construction of a radiant communist future. In recent decades 8 March turned into a holiday of spring, women’s beauty, and love, celebrated both in public settings and in Soviet families. By the late 1980s, Soviet citizens had interiorized the new ways to celebrate this day at which men and boys were expected (or even required) to solemnize the “eternal femininity” of their counterparts by expressing their love, respect, and attention to women and girls of all ages, to greet them with flowers and gifts and to fulfill all their (rather modest) wishes one day a year. The leaders of the Communist Party and the heads of local authorities developed the new tradition of publishing their holiday greetings to female citizens in the media, while directors of enterprises congratulated their female employees in more tangible ways, from flowers and letters of commendation to financial bonus or career promotion. While celebrating “Soviet women―the most liberated women in the world,” nobody was to speak about the multitude of gender inequalities persisting in late Soviet society, as the so-called woman question was proclaimed solved in the USSR long ago.
A Report about Recent Feminist Activism
Carrie A. Rentschler
Young feminists use social media in order to respond to rape culture and to hold accountable the purveyors of its practices and ways of thinking when mainstream news media, police and school authorities do not. This article analyzes how social networks identified with young feminists take shape via social media responses to sexual violence, and how those networks are organized around the conceptual framework of rape culture. Drawing on the concept of response-ability, the article analyzes how recent social media responses to rape culture evidence the affective and technocultural nature of current feminist network building and the ways this online criticism re-imagines the position of feminist witnesses to rape culture.
Sarah E. Summers
This article explores the connections between West German autonomous women's movement and the green movement from inception of the green movement in the 1970s until its institutionalization with the Green Party in the 1980s. I argue that understanding the role of feminism in the movement and vice versa requires scholars to rethink the autonomous strategies of the New Women's Movement. In doing so, I contend that autonomous feminists understood the wider implications of the green movement beyond ecological preservation, thus aiding in the transition to political party. Entangling the two movements also highlights the limits of gender equality in the Green Party as it implemented the quota system in the 1980s, and offers lessons for the potential future success of gender parity in German politics.
Dilemmas in Rural Mexico
Julia E. Murphy
Feminist promotion of gender equity in development began in the 1970s, challenging development policy and practice and producing a rich body of debate and scholarship. Feminist anthropologists, through scholarship and activism, made important contributions to the project of reforming development. A recent anthropological critique of development, however, referred to as the anthropology of 'development', has raised important questions about anthropology's relationship to development, presenting new challenges to feminist anthropologists who would engage with development. This new approach, despite its attention to power, has not had questions about gender at its centre. Drawing on fieldwork in southeastern Campeche, Mexico, this paper explores challenges of a feminist anthropology of 'development', including pressures for engagement and disengagement, and the apparent contradiction between reflexive critiques of, and feminist engagements with, development.
Intergenerational Activism and the Ethics of Empowering Girls
In this article I consider the ethical boundaries of intergenerational activism for the feminist researcher conducting research in pre-existing activist networks. Drawing on a decade of involvement with girl-activists at the United Nations, I revisit key moments that challenged me to re-think the ethical, discursive, and relational conditions of girls’ political empowerment. Intergenerational activism creates relational messiness between adults and girls since effectively partnering with girls requires disruptions of generational power with practitioner-scholars learning to make it up as they go along. This article illustrates the complex and contested ways in which girls and adults build activist partnerships in adult-centered and sometimes politically hostile settings. In exploring the environment within which North American girls experience political (dis)empowerment, I question the ethics of empowering girls under current spectacular discursive conditions.
Robin Whitaker and Pamela J. Downe
Feminist ethnography was a hot topic at anthropology conferences in the 1980s and 1990s. As students, we remember meeting rooms so packed that people crowded in the doorways, straining to hear energetic debates over the negotiation of power, the embodiment of systemic and structural violence, the possibilities for combining scholarship and political activism, and issues of identity and difference – not least the dangers of imposing an ethnocentric feminist agenda on ‘other’ women. By early in the new millennium, that passion had waned; feminist sessions at major conferences were fewer in number, audiences smaller. At the same time, even thinkers foundational to the field began to decry the lost promise of feminist anthropology, arguing that the Y2K version was less political and less effective (e.g., Alonso 2000; Moore 2006). For many feminist anthropologists who remain actively committed to engagement and advocacy, this is a troubling and puzzling trend. It is not as if the problems are all resolved or the injustices all redressed.
Girlhood Studies in (and with) a History
This Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal highlights a unique moment in history in two ways. First, it offers a collection of articles based on presentations made at the inaugural International Girls Studies Association (IGSA) conference hosted by the University of Norwich in April 2016. I thank the guest editors, Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey, and Helen Warner, who, in keeping alive the spirit of this amazing international event, have worked to produce a collection of articles and an interview with a filmmaker, all of which focus specifically on media as a critical axis of feminist research and activism, and the reviews editor, Marnina Gonick, for three excellent book reviews.
Feminist Networks across the Middle East and Europe
This article examines the emergence of transnational public spheres brought about by women activists in diasporas and countries of origin across Europe and the Middle East. Such activism can take various forms - networks, partnerships, transnational mobilisations against war or for advocacy - which, in turn, have an impact on the ability to provide women with new paths to emancipation. Although globalising states and societies are becoming more interconnected, demarcating inequalities and forms of governance still exist. Parameters based on territoriality and national citizenship reinforce the unequal access to resources that women experience around the globe and thus have a hand in shaping women's agendas. The article concludes that although women may be able to acquire empowering tools through feminist transnational networks, these tools are not always capable of dismantling boundaries or weakening old hierarchies.
Arab Women's Subalterniy During Political Struggles
Arab Spring movements in many Arab countries revealed a gap at the heart of Arab society and politics: the large-scale subalternity of Arab women in such movements. In this essay, I hypothesize that, with few exceptions, Arab women have always avoided participation in social and political activism because of their fear of political rape – raping women as punishment during political turmoil. The essay traces the history of political rape through different stages of Arab history. The examples are taken from history, literature and international reports and they mainly cover three countries: Syria, Egypt, and Libya. These examples prove that vulnerable women’s horror at any possibility of their being sexually abused and then rejected by their families and society has always haunted them, preventing them from struggling or protesting. The essay concludes that subalternity is the only stance from which Arab women can encounter political rape. Then, the essay discusses the subalternity of Arab women in the light of the thought of the postcolonial critic Gayatri Spivak. This argument leads to the contention that the silence of Arab women vulnerable to political rape should not be considered passive and that feminist theories and actions cannot be successful in supporting subaltern Arab women without the ethical responsibility theorized by Spivak as the most appropriate approach to the subaltern female. This approach entails respecting subaltern Arab women’s culture and fears and avoiding any attempt to make them copies of the European feminist self. Subaltern Arab women who are afraid of being sexually abused have the right to protect their bodies and stick to their culture while still participating in public life.
Anachronism, Gnosticism and Corporeality in Contemporary Fiction
The longevity of the ‘suffragette’ as a sign of rebellion and dissidence in contemporary British culture is significant.1 Anachronistic citations of the ‘suffragettes’, in novels such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (1999), My Life on a Plate (2000), Kingdom Swann (1990), Suffragette City (1999), the film Mary Poppins (1964) and the performance art of Leslie Hill, invite closer inspection. For the female political subject, the body was a site of ideological conflict during the British campaigns for women’s suffrage in the early years of the twentieth century and it continues to haunt feminist subjectivities and gender transgressors. Ever since members of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), formed in 1903 and led by Emmeline Pankhurst, became known as the ‘suffragettes’ they have been mythologised and reinvented for different purposes. The suffragettes have persisted in popular culture, but perversely reduced to a name and a fatal action: Pankhurst, and that woman who threw herself under the horse. In her investigation of the representation and memorialisation of Emmeline Pankhurst in the period 1930–93, Laura E. Nym Mayhall (1999) has established that the ‘suffragette’ became a ‘symbol of modernity’, a ‘symbol of women’s political activism more generally’, privileging a particular understanding of militancy: ‘militant action, defined narrowly as violence against property, through arrest to incarceration and, eventually, the hunger-strike and forcible feeding’. Mayhall rightly emphasises the constructedness of these representations, and demonstrates the pre-eminence of Emmeline Pankhurst as a signifier of the ‘suffragette’.