Social movements. Feminism

by Pop Roxana Alexandra

Feminist movement is a theoretical doctrine which aims at combating discrimination between men and women, at carrying on reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity, women’s suffrage and sexual violence.

This specifically worldwide attitude can easily fit into the category of social movements due to the fact that it developed through uncensored “networks of informal interactions between a plurality of individuals, groups, or associations engaged in a political or cultural conflict, on the basis of a shared collective identity.” (  Diani and Bison-2004) In other words, it tries to undo a social reality through informal large group actions which become a pressure factor for the political scene.

The movement’s priorities vary among nations and communities and began in the western world in the late 19th century, developing on three waves. The first-wave feminism was targeting a change for the category of middle or upper class white women, involving the attempt to obtain suffrage and political equality. The last two waves of feminism tried to combat social, cultural, financial  inequalities, fighting to increase women’s influence in the political and mass media field but also the sexual liberty  and the protection of reproductive rights.

The movement spread quickly and managed to transform the reality of women by obtaining the right to vote and to stand for electoral offices. The first European country to introduce women’s suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland, then the Russian Empire which elected the world’s first female members of parliament in 1907. Although this, the majority of European countries did not pass women’s suffrage until World War 1.

Another social reality which was changed by this movement was the right of women to initiate divorce proceedings and “no fault divorce”, to make decisions regarding pregnancy and to own property. Step by step, women became more visible inside the society and earned their right of being heard.

Men later began to be more open-minded towards the kind of work and wages which fit to a woman.  Women, on the other hand became courageous and more eager to surpass their social condition. One of them is also Christine de Pizan, a modern feminist who is considered to be the first women able to make a living out of writing.

Feminists also fighted for a non-sexist, neutral language which aimed at minimizing assumptions regarding biological sex and gender discrimination. In other words, feminism tried to combat discriminatory metaphors and quotes.

The huge entrance of women on the labor field lead to a huge number of hours spent by women at the workplace, additional to the time spent by doing household chores. Feminists tried to combat the lacking participation of men inside the household by encouraging them to become active family members.

The social movement also worked on increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, at the reinterpretation of male-dominated imagery and language about God, trying to establish the place of women between motherhood and career.

Moving forward, I will also try to characterize the type of this social movement by using several criteria. After its purpose, feminism was a radical movement because it aimed at changing the entire system and its values in a fundamental way. Looking at the type of the change proposed by this social movement, it becomes clear that it was an innovation movement due to the fact that it tried to undo a social reality by introducing modern changes of perception.  After its target, the movement fit easily into the category of group-focus movements because it focused on society in general. In addition to this, feminism is also an old, peaceful movement owing to the fact that it lasted for several centuries and the majority of the manifestation were non-violent.

Was it good for the evolution of our society?  I intend to be in favor of this movement due to the fact that it managed to break boundaries and make people more open-minded, reducing discrimination and inequalities between genders. It created a new brand image of the woman, breaking the stereotype of a fragile, dependent member of the society.

Were there any bad outcomes? Of course! Too much liberty and women not knowing what to do and when to stop!

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