The Dilemma of Feminist 'double Activism' and the Pressure of Separatism

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Jacinthe MICHAUD , York University (Glendon), Toronto, ON, Canada

Feminism shares boundaries with other political movements, often acting in synergy with many of them. The term “double activism,” coined by Italian feminists, describes the position of feminist activists who are simultaneously involved in political organizations of the left (parties, movements, unions) and feminist collectives. The act of moving across boundaries – between the left and feminism – came to light when this double allegiance was presented as conflicting loyalties in the 60s and 70s by feminists advocating a complete separation of their movement. Double activists who lived that experience, were criticized for not devoting their energies entirely to women and feminism; for not thinking and acting freely outside frames of reference controlled by masculine thought. The pressure felt was described as schizophrenia resulting from being engaged in two opposite worlds and not feeling whole in neither of them. This presentation is based on a comparative research between two types of feminisms which have never been compared before: Québécois (Canada) and Italian feminisms during the 60s and 70s. The paper intends to go beyond the Italian case dominated by the traditional and the New Left and beyond the 60s and 70s period by showing that double activism was – and still is – shedding light on the political evolution of the feminist movement. This is especially the case today, with the renewed synergy found between feminists and other political actors such as young queer, anti-authoritarian, anti-colonial and anti-racist political groups. The paper will focus on the complex consciousness of double activists; the existential aspect of presenting oneself as a member of a political group while helping to create feminist collectives; and the simultaneous activity of bringing social struggles within the frontiers of feminism while seeking to bring feminist principles and feminist struggles within leftist groups.