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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The development of consciousness or an activist identity is a precursor to activism on behalf of women’s issues. This chapter examines the dynamics and causes of women’s gender consciousness, feminist consciousness and feminist identities and argues that they should be understood on a continuum. Gender consciousness (awareness of women’s political and social interests as women) includes a wide range of activism. Feminist consciousness (awareness and critique of gender inequalities) sits in the middle of the continuum. It accounts for perspectives that are implicitly feminist while rejecting feminist identity, including those of contemporary young women, working class, or women of color who critique the women’s movement while simultaneously supporting feminist ideologies. Feminist identities are adopted when women develop alternative visions for gender relations based on a collective identity. Consciousness and identity are influenced by age, class, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation and are thus diverse and changing historically.

Keywords: gender, feminism, women’s activism, gender consciousness, feminist consciousness, feminist identity

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