Second-wave feminism is now in its third decade
The movement that began in the 1960s in the United States has gone through many permutations, continuously emerging in new forms in different parts of the world. Awareness of the issue of gender has reached international institutions and has entered popular culture. Yet this worldwide phenomenon is made up of individual movements, occurring within national boundaries and shaped by distinct sets of circumstances.
Mapping the Women’s Movement charts the development, diversification and politics of movements in the United States and key countries in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Japan, in order to draw out their wider implications. It shows that feminist political action to change institutions, policy-making and the law has been far more successful in delivering gains to women’s lives than was presaged by the early movement’s emphasis on personal liberation. These gains have been accomplished mainly through public action and the mobilization of alliances with parties of the left or with the support of governments and legislators. But the emergence of a distinctly ‘second-class’ female workforce, plagued by low pay and bereft of employment protection and benefits, shows up the limits of women’s ability to rely on market forces to consolidate their position. Coupled with governmental moves to roll back the boundaries of public responsibility, such developments reveal the extent to which the women’s movement needs instead to ally itself with political forces tat value the role of the public realm, and develop a strategy for operating in the current business-oriented policy environment.
An authoritative survey by some of the most important contemporary writers on the subject, Mapping the Women’s Movement provides key pointers to the political and ideological forces which shape women’s lives today.