The fundamental nuts and bolts of Feminism is a concept or a belief that focuses on how women should be allowed to get the same rights as men. This social movement pursues equality for women. The Feminism, social and political movement rallied round and transformed the lives of many individual women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Western world. In Britain, and this is where it started in 1866, women who were in full time occupation, because of the industrial revolution, had got the fortuitous chance to discuss in a highly organized groups about the their social issues within the British society as well as their political rights.
The brass tacks of Feminism discourse started about the political rights of women, as they had no political representations within the parliament. In addition, women were not even endorsed to vote for the election times. The main reason of this was, because of men, or their husbands will take the lead of the family responsibility in the matters of both the political and the social issues of the society. Women’s role was different from men’s role. Traditionally it was to foster children as well as taking care of the home activities, such as cleaning, cooking food and washing clothes.
Full time working women well thought-out by organizing campaigns, firstly to vote and then to have their representatives as they had no political seat in the national politics of Britain. This resulted, the first appearance of women’s suffrage movement in Britain in 1866, which later the Daily Mail Newspaper gave the famous name of the Suffragettes. Same as the United States of America, women in that part of the world came together to convince their parliament about the ratification of the amendment of the constitution. The reason was to gain the rights of women to show of hands in the election times. In 1970s women’s suffrage returned to make another amendment of the constitution, it was the equal rights and the balance of the gender.
Hence, Feminism is a collection of peaceful social movements, which focused on to gain women’s different political, economic and social rights. In that case, Feminist groups followed a peaceful path of protests, demonstrations, lobbying in order to achieve their goals, political and social movement agendas. Therefore, this essay will discuss the social movement of Feminism, historical sociology of Feminism, globalization and Feminism, the relation between social movements and Feminism, the essay will also elaborate a case study and finally how the social movement of Feminism expanded women’s role and career within the different societies of the world.
In this piece of writing, before to expound and discuss how Feminism is a social movement, I would like to answer the question of social movement itself, which is a type of group action like group of specific people or organizations that focus on political and social issues. Mostly, it was the education and the knowledge of enlightenment s that made social movements possible to take place. These movements became popular during the industrialization and urbanization movements in the nineteenth century societies. The technological advancement of industrialization and urbanization as well as the ongoing changes of political life, such as democratization and the rule of law allowed the Western societies and their people for a massive social changes of movements from the margins of polity because of the open and the accountable public institutions (Hosbawn 1959).
This accountable public institutions refer that education and social advancement allowed governments to act wisely in order to understand the pressures from the below. According to Blumber (1939) social movements are normally perceived as a modern phenomenon that started from the industrialized societies. Currently, social movements are a global phenomenon, and it can easily be utilized through using or accessing the highly advanced technologies, such as the internet. For instance, the terrorist activities of Charli Hebdo, and how the demonstration against this incident took place and spread throughout the world to stop and prevent terrorism activities is a good example of how social movements lobby against the unwanted occurrence. So as the international social movements such as the conspiracy theories of 9/11, the truth movement and animal rights movement.
On the other hand, both historians and sociologists belief that Feminists press on by sustaining pressure on legislators to address different issues of women. These were what has been called the first wave, the second and the third waves. Where first and second waves mostly focused on political rights, reproductive rights, equal payments on work, affirmative actions, rape victims and social harassment. Whilst, the third wave of Feminism is willing to work on the legal and political establishment, rather than criticizing and lobbying outside.
The historical sociology of Feminism relates to women’s movement that concerned to make all genders (men and women) to have equal political, economic and social rights. The idea is to relatively safeguard these rights into government and parliamentary legislative in order to avoid social discrimination. The publication of Wollstonecraft (1972) supported the social movement of Feminism in Britain in the nineteenth and early twenty centuries. The first wave of Feminism was more political, as women wants to have their vote counted in the election times.
But the second-wave of Feminism was quite different than the first-wave of Feminism, which has been based on the political participation of women that started in industrialized era. As Nancy Fraser (2013) pointed out in her book of Fortunes of Feminism ‘’when second-wave of Feminism firstly erupted on the world stage, the advanced capitalist states of the Western Europe and North America were still enjoying the unprecedented wave of prosperity that followed World War II (p, 3).
This ‘’advanced capitalist states’’ refers the emerging of the new technological sophisticated world where economic, political and social system based on property, business and industry being privately owned. The aim of this new era was based on that business to make the greatest possible profits for the private elitism and their business organizations. Fraser also stated (2013) ‘’utilizing new tools of Keynesian economic steering they had apparently learned to counteract business downturns and to guide national economic development so as to secure near full employment for men’’ (p. 3). My argument on this is, because for many hundreds of years, women have made every effort to gain equality with the men.
In these very hundreds of years, men held them back and lose their chances and prospects in terms of political, economic and social life. I believe that women have every right to be equal with men, because Islam protected women respectfully more than any other existing religion and culture in the world. But unfortunately, some Feminist activist are much more radical than others now. The philosophy of radical Feminism today emphasized the patriarchal roots of inequality, while Feminist movements want reform, the radical movements are not as they want to get rid of every root of the current political and social organizations.
In that case, in this essay I would also like to elaborate a case study to support my argument about the radical Feminist movements, which is a social movement that emerged in Europe in the late 1960s. The main purpose of the radical Feminism was to focus on the role of male violence against women in the sense of gender inequality as Susan Brownmiller, argued with one of her useful Feminism writings. But there is a reality that within the very same context of radical Feminism there is a more likely possibility, which indicates that the social movement of radical Feminism provided an obstacle to social mobility for the working class men. This case study is about the political argument of David Willets and his controversial argument about how Feminism had made it tougher for the working people, especially men to get ahead in life.
Daily Telegraph pointed out ‘’Feminism trumped egalitarianism. It is not that I am against Feminism, it is just that is probably the single biggest factor’’. The University Minister David Willets argument was based on two main points. Firstly, women’s entry into higher education, and secondly, the social mobility of women in the workplace. Although he said that he is very happy to see how women utilised the opportunity of higher education as well as women’s progressive move into the workplace. He underlined, the social mobility of men, which appears to have fallen back over the period of Feminism social movement programmes. But that was not the only conclusion of the Minister about the topic of radical Feminism.
As quoted from the BBC, the prominent journalist Rod Liddle who was the son of a train driver said ‘’ I don’t like the manner in which the Minister made his point. But the reality is that such statistics demonstrate that the arrival of middle class women in large numbers into the universities and professions has restricted the prospects for men with working class backgrounds’’. This ‘’large numbers into the universities and professions’’ refers that female university students outnumbered their male counterparts in the Western world. And this resulted, that today’s Feminism academics who normally work sociology and other social science departments of our universities no longer campaign the equal access opportunities between men and women in our education system.
But in the contrary, they rather campaign to see as the education editor Joanna Williams stated in her report in which I put the website link below in my reference list. I had quoted these from her report ‘’where women battled to be allowed into lectures and fought to sit exams, today, many Feminists in the academy argue that traditional teaching methods employed by the universities are representative of an historically white middle class, patriarchal hegemony and as such need to be ’disrupted’, as they alienate non-traditional students’’. This refers that the radical Feminists are not campaigning of gender equality or to reform the legislation system for better equality for men and women, but to change and transform every link between men and women. In other words, radical Feminism is totally different from any other social movement of Feminism.
For instance, if we go back the first and the second waves of the social movements of Feminism, these movements focused on rights and responsibilities. According to Diana Meyers (1996) ‘’the conviction that I own my body – that my body belongs to me, and that I have certain rights over it in virtue of the fact that it is mine – is as central to traditional theories of property rights as it is to contemporary disputes over abortion rights or the legalization of prostitution’’ (p. 85). This body belongings refers that these Feminism ideology was seeking their rights of marriage, which is who they want to marry, friend with, or the way they want to have sex whether for a paid prostitution and sex working or to perform an abortion after conceiving a baby in their tummies.
Another factor of how Feminism can be considered into a social movement phenomenon is, the way it expanded into the global world. Although Feminism came from the Western world, the idea has expanded into the other parts of the world, such as the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America. But this is not all of it, it is just the beginning of the story on how Feminism movements reached to the Non-Western countries? Because of the different cultures, norms and traditions. In addition, the education system, modernity, industrialization and the enlightenment of secularization have not yet taken place most of the Non-Western countries of these above mentioned continents.
We all know that globalization allowed and facilitated our world to communicate with one another, share cultures of different communities through trade and travel. Globalization is the process to interconnect into the world system. Although, it has its pros and cons, globalization seems to have positive impacts to the world economy. On the contrary, the ideology of global Feminism and the international women’s movement globalization is a negative system to the empowerment of women. Because it transported countless damage and harm to women.
It expedited the systematic manipulation of women. As Feminist movements argued, globalization facilitated cheap domestic and migrant labour as well as the cause of the international organized of crime, and in India, Bangladesh and other third world countries the commercial sexual exploitation of women and young girls tripled as globalization increased its momentum. As Hawkesworth (2006) pointed out ‘’many of the key issues on the contemporary transnational Feminist agenda are sketched in the discussion of the gendered dimensions of globalization, it is poverty, racism, neoliberalism, inequitable conditions of labour, women’s triple shift, migration, women full citizenship, prostitution and sexual trafficking’’ (p. 29). This refers that globalization has negative impact on Feminism.
But on the other hand, globalization promoted the Western ideology of Feminism in the world. For example, the slogan of the international women’s movement was written the quotation marks, of Virginia Woolf ‘’as a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the world ‘’ (1938, 109). This refers that globalization allowed Feminists from Europe and America to interact with the weak and under-constructed Feminism in Africa, Asia and Latin America. When compare the women’s movements from the two different worlds (the developed and developing) there is a huge gap between them, as those who live in the developing world are still struggling to cope the problems of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), abortion, sham marriage, political rights as well as social and economic rights.
Most surprisingly, in cultural and traditional wise, most women in the developing countries belief that the difference between men and women is a God given responsibility between the different sexes. They also appear to feel happy about their husbands marrying more women. On the contrary, women in the West are working on their third wave Feminism ideology, which is to destroy all patriarchal linkages. According to Hawkesworth (2006), he pointed out ‘’women’s health and reproductive rights and occupational equity’’ (p. 30). This refers to how women in the West seeking to replace the dominance of men on what Joanna Williams called the body of knowledge.
In conclusion, the question of Feminism is a social movement is an existing fact, because it has changed and transformed the lives of many ordinary women mainly in Western countries. Therefore, the idea of Feminism is a total social movement, which in my argument positively affected in the Western Societies. In this essay I explained how the idea of Feminism started, where it started and the different circumstances, as it was in the past, the centuries and decades as well as the present social impact of the radical Feminism idea of what Joanna Williams has called the body of knowledge.
I also explained the three ways of Feminism, in details, were mostly interestingly, the third-wave of Feminism is more radical but seems achievable as the case study of David Willets stated. The essay also demonstrated examples of social movements and how Feminism linked into it. Finally, the question of Feminism is social movement elaborated how Feminism activities affected the sense of global justice on women in terms of globalization process on Feminism movement.
Hawkesworth, M. (2006). Globalisation & Feminist Activism. United States: Rowman & Littlefield.
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Williams, J. (2013, August 12). Taking the ‘he’ out of Higher Education. [online). (URL http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/taking_the_he_out_of_higher_education/13914#.VT5rYSFViko). (Accessed 27 April 2015).
Willets, D. (2011, April 6). Feminism Blocked Social Mobility for Men. [online]. (URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12970105). (Accessed 26 April 2015).