The Women's Movements of the United States and Western Europe: Consciousness, Political Opportunity, and Public Policy

By Mary Fainsod Katzenstein; Carol McClurg Mueller | Go to book overview

2
How Women Become Involved in the Women's Movement of the Netherlands

MARTIEN BRIËT BERT KLANDERMANS FREDERIKE KROON

In the Netherlands, as in many other countries, feminism came to life again in the 1970s. The second feminist wave produced a diverse assembly of women's groups, organizations, and activities. Many of the initiators had previously been active in the student movement or the Vietnam movement. Initially, feminists directed their efforts at equal opportunities for men and women. Gradually, they came to the conclusion that women not only had unequal opportunities but were oppressed, and that this oppression was woven into the fabric and the culture of our society. Although there is no national Dutch organization similar to the National Organization of Women (NOW) in the U.S., the Dutch women's movement has evolved into a variety of decentralized groups and organizations that keep in touch with each other in various ways. This has resulted in the fishnet structure that Gedach and Hine ( 1970) consider so typical of social movements.

The movement covers an extremely wide range of ideologies and concrete activities. There are political interest and pressure groups -- women for peace, women for legalized abortion, women against sexual violence, women dependent on public support, and women's groups within political parties and unions. There are counseling, education, and training groups for women seeking radical therapy; groups for women in midlife; crisis hotlines; courses on society (the socalled VOS or "Women's Orientation to Society" course) for women with only a few years of secondary education. There are cultural groups such as women's cabarets and theaters, women's art galleries, women's publishing and printing companies, women's bookstores, women's newspapers and magazines. And there are more general groups and activities: women's houses or cafes, consciousnessraising groups, and women's groups in community centers. Not all of these activities are equally common, but some combination of them can be found in most Dutch towns. It should be pointed out that the movement has no fixed form. Groups disappear; others develop; newly discovered problems give rise to new

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