4.Taylor_Persistent - R EADING Verta Taylor N ancy W...

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READING Verta Taylor Nancy Whittier Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak The Women's Movement: Persistence Through Transformation INTRODUCTION Popular authors and scholars alike described the 19805 and 19905 as a "postfeminist" eTa of political apathy during which former feminists traded their political ide- als for career mobility and cell phones and younger women single-mindedly pursued career goals and viewed feminism as an anachronism. Yet this was not the first time that commentators proclaimed the death of feminism. In the 19205, after women won the right to vote, images of young women abandoning the struggle for rights in favor of jobs and good times filled the media. 111en as now, feminism changed form, but nei- ther the movement nor the injustices that produced it have vanished. Of all the manifestations of social activ~ ism in the 1960s, feminism is one of the few that persist. We explore here continuity and change the American women's movement from the 1960s to the present. First we consider the sh'uctural preconditions of women's movements in the Western world and the international context for activism. Then we focus on the changing ide- ologies, structures, political contexts, and strategies of the women's movement in the United States. We con- clude our discussion by considering historically specific antifeminist countermovements that have emerged in response to challenges of the women's movement. STRUCTURAL PRECONDITIONS OF WESTERN FEMINIST MOVEMENTS From a social movement perspective, women have always had sufficient grievances to create the context for feminist activity. Indeed, instances of collective action on the part of women abound in history, especially if one includes female reform societies, 556 women's church groups, alternative religious societies, and women's dubs. However, collective activity on the part of women directed specifically toward improving their own status has flourished primarily in periods of generalized social upheavat when sensitivity to moral injustice, discrimination, and social inequality has been widespread in the society as a whole (Chafe 1977; Staggenborg 1998a). The first wave of feminism in the United States grev\J out of the abolitionist struggle of the 1830s and peaked during an era of social reform in the 18905, and the contemporary movement emerged out of the general social discontent of the 19605. Although the women's movement did not die between these periods of heightened activism, it declined sharply in the 19305, 19405, and 19505 after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote as a response to the changing social, political, and economic context (Rupp and Taylor 1987). During this period, women who had played important roles in obtaining women's suffrage managed to keep the flames of feminism alive by launching a campaign to pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. Despite national differences in feminist movements, scholars identify certain basic structural conditions that have contributed to the emergence of feminist protest
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4.Taylor_Persistent - R EADING Verta Taylor N ancy W...

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