Young women’s feminist activism and the politics of difference: ‘I was instinctively aware that all of those girls were being called names’

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper is based upon biographical and ‘expert’ interview data collected with 18-25-year-old feminist activists, and data collected from an ethnography of online feminist spaces, street activism and feminist events, as a part of a Europe-wide study on young people’s political participation. Drawing upon Iris Marion Young’s ideas of the ‘politics of group difference’, the paper argues that young feminist activists reject traditional and patriarchal political structures and engage instead with fair, open and inclusive political spaces that foreground women’s needs, rights and interests. By making political claims ‘asserted from the specificity of social group position’ (Young, 2000, 82), young feminists actively challenge relational structures of power and structural inequality and celebrate ‘cultural and experiential specificity’ (160) through grassroots political activism that is explicitly gendered. This activism is biographically relevant, politically purposeful and focused upon the key cornerstones of feminist activism of consciousness-raising, ‘speaking bitterness’, and building coalitions. Considered alongside global feminist movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, and their impacts, the paper suggests that contemporary grassroots feminist movements, across a range of spaces and contexts, continue to have the crucial capacity to unsettle structural injustice through activism that is based on group difference and an explicit naming of gender inequality and injustice.
Period24 Apr 201926 Apr 2019
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Challenging Social Hierarchies and Inequalities
Event typeConference
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational