In 2005, in her book entitled Beyond identity politics feminism, power and politics, Moya Lloyd writes: feminism is an identity politics so far as it articulates the demands of a particular constituency (women), united and galvanized on the basis of shared characteristics and experience . To understand and analyze or criticize this assertion and to comprehend the link between feminism and identity politics, it is necessary to understand what feminism and identity politics are. Feminism is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as the belief that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men . Besides, identity politics is defined by Joan Mandle as an action to advance the interests of members of a group supposed to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race or gender) . This essay aims at understanding the link between the two notions. It deals with feminism and identity politics in the United States and in France. Even if identity politics is a concept much more relevant in the Anglo-Saxon world than in France, as attested by the fact that there is no real equivalent of the notion in French, we will try to make a comparison between the two countries.
[...] As in the United States, this movement cannot be considered as a real identity politics and can even be seen as criticize identity politics. Hence, both in the United States and in France, specific feminist identity groups appeared in the last decades. However, according to Mikaila Arthur, “this fragmentation counters the original point of identity politics, which is to encourage recognition of the vast numbers of people who share identities that are outside the mainstream”. Thus, we can wonder whether very specific identity politics and identity politics in general, are a good way to secure women's interests. [...]
[...] Indeed, feminist identity politics are at the origin of many successes in the 1970's both in the United States and in France, as attested by the Loi Weil in 1975, for instance. Nevertheless, going too far with identity politics leads to many splits and can be negative for women. By always stressing the characteristics which divide women, the logic of identity politics ultimately leads to a situation where each woman is her own group. Indeed, each woman has a unique identity. [...]
[...] Another limit of feminist identity politics was underlined by the queer movement in France and in the United States, as we already explained (gender and sexed identities are socially constructed). The relation between feminism and identity politics mostly concerns issues of gender, sex and sexuality. The notion of sexuality is at the center of many feminist identity politics. Yet, these days, the notions of masculinity and feminity as immutable categories are replaced by fluctuating sexual identities. More and more, women claim ambiguous sexualities (bisexuality, transvestism, androgyny Hence, sexual identity is not a stable element of a woman's personality. [...]
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[...] Actually, American society is today culturally very homogeneous, as almost all the students who attend college grow up in similar circumstances (watching the same television programs, listening to the same music, shopping at the same malls Specific feminist identity groups in France Recently in France, women with several oppressed identities also formed specific identity politics groups. However, this phenomenon is far less important in Europe than it is in the United States. In France, university or college campuses do not really exist and specific places where identity claims can multiply do not exist. [...]
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