Naked in the Gymnasium: Women as Agents of Social Change
Women have throughout history participated in and sometimes initiated rebellions to defend the welfare of their family, community, class and race or ethnic group. It appears that generations of women in a wide range of political and social movements, individual women resisting social injustice and at least three waves of conscious feminism(s) have not yet succeeded in defeating the popular stigma surrounding female activism. Women moving in the public arena still evoke the same negative images they have conjured for centuries, reflected in such derogatory appellations as ‘viragos,’ ‘witches,’ ‘femmes-hommes,’ or ‘hyenas in petty-coats’. This paper looks at social change from the perspective of its arguably most cogent, but nevertheless controversial, agents. It examines a range of recent theories concerning gender and social change, to affirm women’s revolutionary potential beyond the boundaries of political revolution.
gender; feminism; women