Zeles Vargas

Status:

Major: 
Anthropology & Psychology
Mentor: 
Dr. Adam Dunstan
Research Topic: 
Equality vs Social Justice: Discursive Changes in Denton Feminism
Abstract: 
Social movement theory has acknowledged the framing perspective, in which movements negotiate their representations and ideologies. Feminist theory has largely acknowledged multiple feminisms, which are ideological practices that feminists have historically framed themselves with. Two of these could broadly be referred to as Equality Feminism (EF) and Social Justice Feminism (SJF). EF tends to focus on White economic and political equality, while SJF frames feminism as a cultural battle that includes other social issues. This research revealed a 2016 discursive shift in Denton feminism from the former to the latter. By actively forming an oppositional consciousness and appealing to mainstream identities, the perceived 2016 anti-feminist rhetoric was challenged when these processes shifted movement discourse towards SJF. Doing so influenced feminist identity, changed cultural conceptions about feminism, and developed a shared consciousness among the activists. Using ethnographic methods such as participant observation, interviews, and discourse analysis, I constructed a narrative of the Denton feminist movement. This narrative attempts to answer not only why feminism changes, but how it does so. I argue that while Denton is just one city, it is a microcosm of the American feminist movement, and indicative of the transformations that can and have historically occurred within the movement.