Table of Contents
Before delving into this topic, a brief history of feminism needs to be discussed. Feminism was born out of intense oppression of women in the Western world in the 19th century. Women's suffrage amendment was the first step towards gender equality before finally being ratified by the Nineteenth Amendment Act of 1920. In this thesis, we discuss the popular #metoo movement of feminism all across the globe. Meanwhile, we will also review feminism from a public relations theory perspective and why modem day feminism is only focussed on white women and why intersectionality is important. We will also see the implication of the Equal Rights Amendment and how it was centered on only white women. We will see how white women have dominated the PR industry in the United States.
Women in the 19th century faced intense poverty and lack of basic needs. This is what fuelled major feminist movements across the globe especially in the United States (Kendell, 2020). The history of feminism can be divided into three waves, the first wave came in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the second wave in the mid-nineteenth century and the world saw the third wave of feminism in the late nineteenth century. Feminism had great impacts on the public relations sector in recent times. As per Golombisky, 2015, public relations have achieved major advancements, thanks to Feminism. It has majorly occurred in three ways, it has debunked all the theories and myths that women are not capable and successful enough in the public relations sector. Secondly, it has advocated change for the sake of empowerment of women thus improving public relations.
Thirdly, feminism has revealed how men centered on social science is responsible for the detriment of women (Golombisky, 2015). However, the major disadvantage of feminism in concern with the PR industry is that it is completely dominated by white women only. The #metoo movement had a great impact on public relations across the globe. This particular movement has taken the world by storm and is spreading like wildfire. The #metoo movement is a movement against sexual harassment and abuse of all kinds. The "metoo" hashtag went viral all across the world and was used in a large number of tweets daily. White women have majorly dominated this movement for their rights only and major sectors in public relations are held by white women only. The equal rights Amendment focuses majorly on white women only despite promising equal rights given to people belonging from each gender of people ("Equal Rights Amendment | Definition, History, & Facts", 2020).
However, the allegations are made that the #metoo movement is mainly focussed on white women only. Major critics backlash this movement stating that only wealthy, rich, powerful, influential, and mostly white women can move the authority held by men in various sectors. This raises an important question as to whose voices and heard and whose voices are not (Rottenberg, 2017). Thus, the original motive of this movement seems to be deep trouble. It was indeed a fact that the #metoo movement was ironically originated from a black woman named Tarana Burke who was an African American activist. She also co-founded the "Blacks Lives Matter" movement focussing on mitigation of racism from society (Rottenberg, 2017). It was originated to fight off sexual assaults amongst the minor communities (Munshi-Kurian, Munshi, & Kurian, 2019).
The original purpose of the #metoo movement was to promote connectivity, empathy, and empowering the survivors of sexual assault. However, the original purpose of the movement lost its direction and it created divisions amongst the women instead of connectivity. People forgot the initial purpose and origin of the #metoo movement which majorly aimed to eliminate sexual harassment from society. The eligibility of participation in the movement has become directly or indirectly the racial background of the people involved. The women of color were ignored as a part of the movement. These factors were primarily responsible for the failure of this movement in bringing actual social change which is intended to bring. The women of color have gravely criticized the movement for the very reason and have raised their concerns over it.
So far from whatever has been discussed, it is quite clear that #metoo movement and feminism, in general, are completely dominated by white women. The white women hold major offices and positions in the public relations sector which is quite alarming. The real reason behind these concerns dates back to the actual origin of the feminist movement back in the 19th century when the19th Amendment only focussed on the rights of the white women eliminating the women of color. However, the original intent was to provide all women the right to vote but only white women were primarily benefitted from this amendment and were given the right to vote to leave the vast majority of African Americans in the south (both men and women) refrained from voting rights (Jeunesse, 2020). Thus, this poses a major problem for our society as the spirit of feminism is curbed due to racism.
Intersectionality is the only solution to be the above problem. Intersectionality is an approach that can be used to overlap social discriminations of all kinds based on race, culture, gender, or sexuality. It aims at looking at the problem in a broader sense. By using this concept, the instances of racial approach in the feminist movement can be mitigated as the Intersectional approach aims at solving all the social problems related to discrimination (Kendell, 2020). Intersectionality is important as it aims at the identification of the fact that major problems related to the identity of individuals are interlinked with each other. In the context of feminism, intersectionality is crucial as it uses the idea of feminism to identify and solve other forms of discrimination thus making the concepts and implications of feminism broad. Intersectionality can lay stress on multiple ways in which discrimination and oppression occur and solves them in a more effective way to uphold the principles of the actual meaning of equality in true terms.
The intersectional approach is also crucial in public relations as it leads to diversity in the workplace which is fruitful for an organization. Diversity in any organization can bring more profits to them due to the influx of creative and innovative ideas from different types of people (Russell, & Lamme, 2017). Some of the other social concepts which could be employed to solve the problem are ideological state apparatus and the abolition of the gender binary. Ideological State Apparatus aims to achieve social equality in educational institutions, churches, sports clubs, media outlets, and social clubs. Gender Binary is another major problem that can be resolved by the use of an intersectional approach as Gender Binaries discriminates the rights of LGBTQ communities and establishes the supremacy of only two genders and negates the existence of any social variant.
In this essay, we discussed the origin of feminism as a result of prevalent gender inequality and sexual oppression. We saw how the original feminism in the first wave only dealt majorly with white women and the #metoo movement is completely dominated by white women despite originally being advocated by an African American woman with the intent of providing security to the underprivileged women from sexual assault. We saw how the ERA and 19th Amendment despite promising equal rights to everyone focussed only on the rights of white women. Lastly, we introduced the concept of intersectionality and explained how this is important in both feminism and PR.
Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Equal Rights Amendment | Definition, History, & Facts. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Equal-Rights-Amendment> [Accessed 2 May 2020].
Golombisky, K., 2015. Renewing the Commitments of Feminist Public Relations Theory From Velvet Ghetto to Social Justice. Journal of Public Relations Research, 27(5), pp.389-415.
Jeunesse, M., 2020. The 19Th Amendment Only Really Helped White Women. [online] Teen Vogue. Available at: <https://www.teenvogue.com/story/19th-amendment-anniversary-benefited-white-women> [Accessed 2 May 2020].
Kendall, M., 2020. Hood Feminism. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, pp.3-14.
Munshi-Kurian, A., Munshi, D. and Kurian, P., 2019. Strategic interventions in sociology’s resource mobilization theory: Reimagining the #MeToo movement as critical public relations. Public Relations Review, 45(5), pp.1-18.
Rottenberg, C., 2017. Can #MeToo go beyond white neoliberal feminism? Aljazeera, [online] pp.1-4. Available at: <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/metoo-white-neoliberal-feminism-171213064156855.html>
Russell, K., & Lamme, M. (2017). Public Relations History Through Women's Eyes. Media Report To Women, 45(4), 5-23.
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