Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feminist Pasts -- pastpresents?

Tuesday, 9 November – narrating the second wave’s relationships to race, scenes from DC
• Valk, Radical: Intro, Conclusion, & pick 3 more chapters as you like

Make a point of visiting some of the sites of events and circumstances described in Valk’s book. What conflicts today are addressed in this narration of a particular feminist past? Who is likely to care about it and for what reasons? What interventions does this book intend? What about the unintended? Why do we need a “more nuanced take on the era”?


View Radical Sisters in a larger map

Click the Radical Sisters link above and you will see the pins for various locations as we add them. Furies Houses is the first one I've set up.

The pins mark sites as best as I can see them on Valk's own map. I'm not sure of exact addresses or of discrepant information. For example, the Wikipedia says one Furies house was in SW. So add or alter as you think works.

I tried to add Wikipedia sites to the map itself, but it requires layering and is beyond my first attempts at least....

Some resources for analysis:
• The Wikipedia & Google timeline on "mass movement"
• The Wikipedia on "vanguardism
Portal:Feminism on the Wikipedia

For those who only see post-gentrification Dupont Circle, it is hard to convey the sort of neighborhood it was in the 60s and 70s. Much of it run down, inhabited by a more heterogeneous community, a center for alternative organizations and politics.... I haven't been able to find good pictures to convey a sense of the community then.... (I was a high school student at Wakefield High School in Arlington in the late sixties, and traveled by bus to Dupont Circle then.) The U Street Corridor -- at one time a center of Black intellectual and cultural life in DC -- had been virtually destroyed after rioting and martial law in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination.


4-5: "...the history of second-wave feminism should be understood within the context of the parallel, occasionally overlapping, and often contentious movements that arose at the same time. ...previous studies typically have treated the histories of these movements separately. As a result, much of this scholarship has obscured the continuous and fruitful interactions that occurred even when each movement declared its independence form the others. ... such scholarship often perpetuates a declension narrative that correlates the birth of feminism with the dissolution of other left movements and stresses the decline of radical feminism in the mid-1970s, as the push for commonality gave way to cultural feminism. Many recent studies, however, have forcused on African American women's activism for racial and sexual liberation, thereby challenging the view that feminism was exclusively a white women's movement; yet even this scholarship treats black and white women's activities as largely separate and generally antagonistic. //...As they coordinated political campaigns within the same city at the same time, participants in movements for racial liberation, women's liberation, and welfare rights sometimes found little reason to ally across movement lines. But even when they conceived their movements as separate, activists borrowed, adapted, reconfigured, and disseminated ideas about political change and women's roles to suit the ideological and strategic needs of their organizations and movements. Through direct interaction and indirect exchange, these activists both created a distinct, multidimensional women's movement and advocated women's concerns within other protest struggles."

184-6: implications for understanding social movements: 
1) "the complexity and fluidity of political campaigns and the extent to which such campaigns, and the activists involved in them, resist easy categorization. Nkenge Toure, Charlotte Bunch, Mary Treadwell, and Etta Horn exemplify women whose contributions to Washington's social change movements extended beyond the boundaries of single organizations. Seeing the connectedness of struggles for sexual, racial, and economic liberation, such women involved themselves in multiple campaigns and organizations."
2) "complicate ideas about identity politics. Because efforts to solve problems, more than rigid adherence to theory, drove much activity within Washington, women activists created coalitions and alliances even as they participated in identity-based move-//ments. Alliances depended on willingness to form partnerships with individuals and groups outside their own circles and on their ability to construct shared agendas and goals that superseded differences in identity, theory, and tactics.... cooperative activity indicates that identity politics did not necessarily or exclusively foster separatism but, rather, that activists sometimes advocated separatism even as they practiced it in a fluid manner."
3) "demonstrates radical feminism's fluidity and ability to encompass dissent. Significantly, as political campaigns and groups converged, they changed course. ...coalitions often served as points at which activists clarified their ideologies and identities, defined on the basis of the differences that distinguished them from their partners in alliances rather than on the // basis of common ground."

Something else of interest I hope:

Nancy Whittier shifting the idea of "feminist generations."

By Nancy Whittier
Published by Temple University Press, 1995

"The radical feminist movement has undergone significant transformation over the past four decades-from the direct action of the 1960s and 1970s to the backlash against feminism in the 1980s and 1990s... contemporary radical feminism is very much alive. It is sustained through protests, direct action, feminist bookstores, rape crisis centers, and cultural activities like music festivals and writers workshops, which Whittier argues are integral-and political-aspects of the movement's survival. Her analysis includes discussions of a variety of both liberal and radical organizations...."

The usual ways of thinking about generations including feminist ones:

• As mother-daughter relationships; as student-teacher relationships:
These are two common models of generational difference used by feminists; they depict generational differences in pairs, as pedagogical or educational and thus as age specific, one proceeding to another while also mutually exclusive. Any power differences appear relatively benign and "familial", generational control is imagined as parental, pedagogical and inevitable.

• Waves as historical periods:
First Wave feminism: 19thc and early 20thc feminisms as named by 1970s feminists
Second Wave feminism: feminisms of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Third Wave feminism: feminisms of the 1990s and perhaps after.
• The Third Wave from 1963-1973:
Third Wave Agenda's 1997 model is age-stratified, defining the Third Wave as feminists born between 1963-1973.
This model builds upon but alters slightly the popular notion of feminist histories in "waves" or distinct historical periods by focusing on when activists are born rather than mixed aged collectivities.

• Entry into activism: Whittier's 1995 model with micro-cohorts:
Whittier's model challenges age-groupings or life-stage as definitions of generations, rather generations are defined as collectives who become first politically active at the same time, yet don't necessarily agree among themselves, and diverge in micro-cohorts. Two large generations: the Second Wave and the Third Wave.

The availability of public and collective resources for social change is pivotal to the experiences of these cohorts.

Second Wave micro-cohorts:
=initiators (1969-1971)
=founders (1972-1973)
=joiners (1974-1978)
=sustainers (1979-1984)

Third Wave micro-cohorts (don't have names just descriptions): (AKA post feminist); understood by Whittier to redefine meanings of "feminism" by conflict with Second Wave building new collective identities (mid 1980s and later):

= micro-cohort 1: reluctant to use term "feminist" because of media associations and initial belief that feminism had completed its political tasks; rethinks these assumptions over next ten years and becomes outspoken and pro-feminist

= micro-cohort 2: establishes earlier continuity with Second Wave & esp. with radical forms, disruptive social and cultural action.

Katie's essay on web for further reading: Theorizing Structures in Women's Studies
section on Whittier's generations


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