women's liberation movement
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women's liberation movementthe multifaceted resurgence of Western FEMINISM from the 1960s. The experience of women activists in the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT in the US prompted them to focus on the necessity to struggle against the subordination of women. In contrast to earlier women's movements, the women's liberation movement stressed that the ‘personal is political’ and saw ‘consciousness raising’ as the basis for all theory and practice. The emphasis was therefore on a concrete personal politics which would enable women to analyse the nature of their oppression and struggle to overcome it.
The movement is diverse and nonhierarchical, loosely structured and without rigid principles. There are no leaders and a concern with the liberation of women finds expression in many different social contexts. The strands of the movement are, however, united around one major tenet, i.e. that all women share a common oppression and one that is not shared by men, who are identified as benefiting from it.
A major concern in the early years of the movement was with the importance of sisterhood – a sense of identifying with and belonging to a global community of women. Hooks (1981), amongst others, has stressed the inauthenticity of this concept in the face of continuing racism within the movement. In the 1980s the divisions between women began to be explored alongside the social factors which unite them.
Trivialization of the term women's liberation movement (‘women's lib’) by the Western mass media has led many feminists to use ‘women's movement’ in preference. In doing so there is a danger that awareness of the movement's commitment to feminist principles and to the goal of liberation may be eroded. Nevertheless ‘women's movement’ has the advantage of being the more inclusive term and allows connections to be made between women's struggles cross-culturally see also FEMINIST THEORY.