Free «Second-Wave Feminist Movement» Essay Sample


Feminist movement brought new insights and challenges for society and demanded new ideologies. Thus, there were some women who rejected feminist ideas and preferred to follow old patriarchal order of society. In genera, the feminist movements of the 1960s had set out to overturn Marxist ideology. They argued that a revolution could change labor relations. As ideology, an ideal is pressed into the service of repression; as dogma, Coming of age in the 1960s, in the crucible of radical politics and counter-cultural fantasies, the next generation-women who had been born after the war-realized that if they wanted their lives to be different, i.e. if they wanted the options for women to expand, they would have to become active politically. Thesis Some women resisted strongly feminist ideas trying to preserve their status as housewives and housekeepers because they lack education, professional skills and were unable to understand the complexity and important of equal rights and social status.

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Discussion Section

Some women saw feminism as utopia and unrealistic ideology. During 1960-s-1970s, stable social and economic position of many families allowed women not to work. Consumption choices differ according to the living arrangements of the family or individual: in what region of the country consumers live, North, South, West, East, or in what subdivision of these broad areas; whether in highly urban areas, large cities, small cities, towns or villages in rural areas, or on farms; whether home owners or renters or neither. The latter category includes those families that receive housing as part of their compensation, and those that share housing -most frequently younger couples or single individuals of any age (Freedman, 2002). Many women from the South regions and farming states prefer to stay at home and raise children rather than work full-time. This meant becoming conscious of how in addition to gender other perspectives such as race and class shaped women's fantasies of the future. In this respect, the work of feminist theorists and scholars that drew attention to the specific concerns of women of color or lesbian or working-class women, was of vital importance to the project of reconceptualizing the new world, even though the issue of utopia was seldom explicitly raised or addressed in their analyses (Reccintelli et al 2005). For as feminist scholars and critics learned to adjust their gaze from the normative male to a female perspective, they found that traces of the utopian principle of hope were to be found in women's work everywhere. Again and again, in women's public and private acts-the texts they wrote, the actions they organized, the relationships they formed-the negativity of refusal was joined by the belief in alternative possibilities. This anticipatory dimension was what made feminism utopian; its link to action was what made it political (Freedman, 2002).

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During 1970s, not only was there too much pent-up anger, pain, and bitterness that needed to be expressed, but as early feminist theorists from de Beauvoir to Friedan had already shown and as women writers and feminist theorists of color amply demonstrated, the first necessity of feminism was precisely to break illusions, not create them (Siegel and Baumgardber 2007). Even as feminists recognized the fact that the struggle against patriarchal oppression was the political imperative of what was then still called the movement for women's liberation, the need to be for something was felt to be equally necessary. However, by the mid-1970s this dimension had gained in force sufficiently to create what amounted to distinct sub-movements within the women's movement as a whole. The most visible, if not the largest, of these was the women's culture movement. It not only envisioned the creation of an alternative and wholly autonomous feminist cultural sphere, but was already moving toward the realization of that vision by generating whole new bodies of literature, art, and music produced by women for women (Siegel and Baumgardber 2007).

Although probably smaller in terms of the actual number of women involved, its appeal was powerful, for it not only presented a radical critique of religion and spirituality as traditionally defined, but, more importantly in terms of its feminist impact, it proposed female-specific alternatives. The structural and conceptual similarities between feminism and utopianism made the connection almost inevitable: oriented toward the future (Siegel and Baumgardber 2007). Both feminism and non-feminists set themselves as antitheses to the existing order of things. This order, they insisted, was constructed and maintained as much by what we-and others-think as what we "actually" do. In this sense, they argued, the immaterial (desires, fantasies, needs) must also be considered real; it has merely not materialized (Freedman, 2002). Thus, still buoyed by the euphoria of a movement in its early stages, 1970s' feminism, for the better part of the decade, was carried by the strong sense that almost everything was possible: the world was being redesigned and all the options were open. Such a radical vision could not fail to produce excitement and anxiety in equally strong doses. The question of the future (not just its shape, but the gains and losses it implied) became an increasing focus of debate within the feminist community (Reccintelli et al 2005).

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Many ideas proclaimed by feminist were misunderstood by non-feminists or were too completed for an ordinary woman. Feminist theory of the late 1970s focused much critical attention on the relationship between feminism and deconstruction. The assumption was that, conceptually and politically, there existed a particular affinity between them. Although the specific nature of this relationship remained contested, an increasing number of feminist theorists took the position that feminism was inherently and necessarily deconstructive (Siegel and Baumgardber 2007). What was not said was something that, in my view, was central to both feminism and deconstruction, namely the fact that both were marked by a strong utopian impulse. Where the feminist approach differed from the deconstructive one was in its insistence that "woman" had not only to be deconstructed, but imagined in entirely new ways. It was on the grounds of this difference-a difference once again marked by the particular blend of positive issues and negativity that characterized utopianism (Reccintelli et al 2005).

Rethinking "woman" ultimately meant remaking the world: the one was predicated upon and led to the other. It was time, as Charlotte Bunch put it, for women to look "beyond how to make do, and into…how to change the structures that control our lives" (Bunch 1987, p. 14). It was on this basis that the new feminism set out to put the radical imagination that Marcuse had called for into historical practice. It was a practice impelled by the recognition that fundamental changes on the order of what Rich had envisioned were necessary; it was inspired by the belief that such changes were not only necessary, but possible. In this respect, feminism as it took shape in the course of the 1970s was informed by a sense of purpose and hope that the Left had either never quite had or had, by then at least, lost. In Woman's Consciousness, Man's World Sheila Rowbotham notes that "[t]he oppressed without hope are mysteriously quiet. Where the conception of change is beyond the limits of the possible, there are no words to articulate discontent so it is sometimes held not to exist" (Rowbotham 1974, p. 24). To reverse this process means not only realizing that conditions of oppression are always changeable, but, equally importantly, breaking the pact of silence that has protected them from scrutiny (Siegel and Baumgardber 2007).


In sum, some women rejected and opposed feminism because they could not understand the complexity and importance of equal opportunities and were afraid of coming changes. Most of them had no professional skills and education, so they would be unable to participate in workforce. Differences between women (whether imposed or chosen or both), differences of class, race, ethnicity, sexuality (not to mention politics) that signified not only vastly different histories, but also situated women differently in relation to existing power structures, had always informed the various visions of what this "women's revolution" would look like. These differences were reflected in the different kinds of feminism that disagreed as much on the ideal shape of the future as on the best ways for getting there.

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