Gender and social activism is often associated with women movements of the early 20th century in which women fought for their rights to actively participate in the democratic process. In addition, this activism has been associated with the ‘women’s lib’ movement that was rife in the second half of the 20th century. These activisms were aimed at ensuring power redistribution in the western society between men and women. In the last two decades of the 20th century, men’s movements emerged in which men questioned the repression and confining norms associated with gender (Kuumba, p. 5). This report is an overview of the social movements that characterized the western society during the 20th century.
Overview of Social Movements
There have been notions that feminist movements have subsided because women in the western society have acquired similar legal rights to men, and enjoy similar opportunities as males. Candis Steenburgen asserts that this notion has been blown out of proportion. She is of the view that though today’s feminists are different from their predecessors, and this does not mean that feminism spirit has subsided. To Candis, the concept of feminism is still thriving among the present generation (Kimmel and Aronson, p. 340).
In Canada, feminism has been institutionalized. In fact, the feminist organizations carry out very important roles in the society which include provision of shelter for domestic violence victims, and facilitating the training programs aimed at helping women acquire work related skills. This has been associated with the argument that institutional feminism has introduced hierarchical structure in the name of bureaucracy. Leona English explores the functioning of various feminist organizations. Her focus is on the way power is exercised within such organizations, both formally and informally (Kimmel and Aronson, p. 347).
Joanne Minaker and Laureen Snider explored another effect emanating from feminist movements. Their focus was on the emergence of the counter-movements, which emerged from the conceptualization that the initial social movements had focused more on females, leaving males as a marginalized and disenfranchised group. In this respect, it has been asserted that males are equally victims of domestic violence just like women, even though males have often been regarded as perpetrators. Milner’s and Snider’s notion of males suffering domestic violence in equal measure as women has not been scientifically determined. Nevertheless, this assertion has emerged in respect to the political, as well as economic aspects (Kimmel and Aronson, p. 356).
Gender and social movements is a terminology that has a definition that goes beyond mere gender transformation. Some activists engage in gender issues as they advocate for their goals. Miya Narushima examined various groups of activists who engaged in gendering of social movements to the level of ludicrousness as their primary intention. Miya took a comprehensive analysis of the Raging Grannies feminist organization in Canada (Kimmel and Aronson, p. 387). This is a feminist organization that is composed of “older women activists for international peace, economic distribution, and other causes, who adopt an exaggerated little old lady persona, with accompanying songs and performances, to draw attention to their causes and to deflect negative responses through humor” (Kimmel and Aronson, p. 340). The Raging Grannies cleverly make use of gender as a political tool, turning stereotypes on their heads.
Social movements refer to the concept that came up in the 20th century. In this regard, the presumably disadvantaged groups came forward to agitate for their rights and uplift their position in the society. There have been emerging trends within the social movements that indicate that both males and females have been affected by these movements.
- Kimmel, Michael S. and Aronson, Amy. The gendered society reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Kuumba, M. Bahati. Gender and social movements. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2001.