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Posts by: ERA Grrrls!
Context and Conciousness-Raising in the Women’s Movement
By ERA Grrrls! On April 27, 2012 · Leave a Comment
The one thing the women’s movements all have in common is that they have risen out of political, social, and economic inequities and have taken root through the solidarity of women fighting for the same goals. Although it may seem disheartening that young women today, including us, don’t have a sense of their own history and are a part of a generation that is considered apathetic, learning about women’s stories and experiences gives us a sense of hope. With the backbone of our education in women’s studies, we significantly recognize that we can build on the activist work of our foremothers and not have to constantly “reinvent the wheel,” which can ultimately set us back as a movement.
One aspect of the 2nd Wave of feminism we find most inspiring, is the formation of consciousness-raising groups in the seventies. Despite the efforts of the women activists aiding the Civil Rights Movement, they constantly found themselves being separated from the movement, as it did not escape the patriarchal and hierarchal style of organizations. Thus, women activists began to develop new ways of thinking and new leadership styles that were nonhierarchical. There were no leadership positions in the consciousness-raising groups allowing for everyone’s voices to hold equal value, so the formation of consciousness-raising groups was truly revolutionary. Through the creation of these groups, women began to realize that their stories of oppression and dissatisfaction were not isolated cases. Listening to themselves and to each other’s stories, they began to realize that their lives had many commonalities. This gave rise to their understanding that the injustices in their lives were actually a structural and systemic problem that needed to be addressed. As the most famous and noteworthy words to come out of the 2ndwave: the personal is indeed political.
We are half-way through our sixteen week semester at Santa Monica College and things are starting to get even more demanding, challenging, and down-right insane. Being a student is hard in any situation, especially when, for example, one has to work and/or deal with burdening family issues. Some of us have really started to feel the pressure and have also begun to feel at times overwhelmed and discouraged. In the midst of all this, however, it is extremely important for us to remember that we are so fortunate to be given the opportunity at a higher education. Furthermore, we are even more blessed to have a Professor whose knowledge is being imparted to us in a way that is intelligent, yet relatable and whose work, both inside and outside of the classroom, gives us a prime example of how to put that knowledge to work and good use.
We then should feel absolutely honored to be working on a campaign like that of the ERA Education Project. Reminding ourselves of this honor should help ease the stress that we may feel as students, because at the end up the day, we are a part of something that is so much bigger than ourselves and that is so monumental. The beautiful thing about this amazing opportunity is that we are not only learning so much, but that we also get to share and pass on that knowledge to our family and peers. Most of us did know that the ERA had never been ratified prior to taking this leadership class; however none of us really knew the complete and full gravity of what that meant for women and women’s rights here in the United States. Now that we are continually learning more and more with regards to about equal rights, we feel it is our personal duty to share (through conversation and Facebook!) and to help further educate our family, friends, and fellow citizens, neighbors, and community members.
Currently as young women, we look forward to the future and believe and hope to be lifelong activists in any shape or form and in any capacity possible. Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards say it best in Manifesta when they urge “…to see activism not as a choice between self and community, but as a link between them that creates balance.” We it owe it to ourselves and our community to impart the knowledge we have been so gratefully given to help make the world a better, and more equal place. As part of Baumgardner and Richards’ Thirteen Point Agenda for a Third Wave Manifesta, the last and final point can be considered the most significant, and in this case, the most indicative:
“13. TO PASS THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT SO THAT WE CAN HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL FOUNDATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND EQUALITY UPON WHICH FUTURE WOMEN’S RIGHTS CONVENTIONS WILL STAND.”
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