Consciousness Raising Essay

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Consciousness raising (CR) was a cornerstone of radical feminist organizing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of the women involved in the anti-war, new left, and civil rights movements were disillusioned as they found themselves relegated to the role of providing services to men. As a result of this awareness, they began small consciousness raising groups to work for women s liberation.

CR groups constituted one segment of the contemporary women s movement classified as the small group, younger branch, or radical feminist sector (Firestone 1970: The Dialectic of Sex).

Meeting in small groups and talking about their lives, they recognized that other women were experiencing the same frustrations and blockages in their professional and personal lives as they were. They began a discourse that would later spill over to the larger more generalized women s movement and society itself. However, their high energy and ”true believer spirit led to strident encounters both within groups and with outside forces.

Since the 1980s, consciousness raising no longer plays the same role in the women s movement as diversity and international and transnational feminism call for a widening circle of feminist awareness and increased concern for the differences among women.

Bibliography:

  • Ryan, B. (1992) Feminism and the Women’s Movement: Dynamics of Change in Social Movement Ideology and Activism. Routledge, New York.

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