2 minute read


Colonialism, Anticolonialism, And Globalization

The colonial project of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries was freighted with gender ideologies. One important aspect involved attempts to remake the gender relations of the colonized peoples in the image of Western male supremacy. The diverse societies subjected to colonization had developed unique systems of gender, some more egalitarian than Western norms, some less so. An unintended consequence of the colonial project was the contradictory spread of Western feminist ideas. Just as the official policies were based on a lack of understanding of the traditions and needs of the colonized people, Western feminism betrayed a narrowness of vision and arrogance that created distrust, even among those women who were the intended beneficiaries. This distrust and these misunderstandings continue to plague relations among feminists, creating schisms that have been exploited by antifeminists.

Anticolonial movements provided new but often fleeting opportunities for feminists. In many nations, the flux of revolutionary times combined with the need for the widest possible support created revolutionary nationalist movements open to expansive roles for women, if not always feminist ideas. Women's labor and leadership were celebrated, but in a manner that reinforced traditional images of women as wives and mothers, not as revolutionaries on their own terms, and the success of nationalist movements has often brought a backlash against the feminist women who were once comrades-in-arms. In strategic appeals, former revolutionaries and other local authorities have branded feminism as a Western influence. Feminists in the developing world have increasingly rejected Western models in order to create their own ideologies that are both truer to their experiences and less vulnerable to condemnation on nationalistic and anti-Western grounds.


Chafeta, Janet Saltzman, and Anthony Gary Dworkin. "In the Face of Threat: Organized Antifeminism in a Comparative Perspective." Gender and Society 1, no. 1 (March 1987): 33–60.

Cott, Nancy F. The Grounding of Modern Feminism. London and New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987.

Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War against American Women. New York: Crown, 1981.

Freedman, Estelle B. No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: Ballantine, 2002.

Gordon, Linda. "What's New in Women's History." In Feminist Studies/Critical Studies, edited by Teresa de Lauretis, 20–30. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Howard, Angela, and Sasha Ranae-Adams Tarrant, eds. Antifeminism in America: A Collection of Readings from the Literature of the Opponents to U.S. Feminism, 1848 to the Present. 3 vols. New York and London: Garland, 1997.

Kinnard, Cynthia D. Antifeminism in American Thought: An Annotated Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986.

Morgan, Robin, ed. Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology. New York: Feminist Press of the City University of New York, 1996.

Roiphe, Katie. The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus. New York, Toronto, and London: Little, Brown, 1993.

Schlafly, Phyllis. Feminist Fantasies. Dallas: Spence, 2003.

Sommers, Christina Hoff. Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Touchstone, 1995.

Thomas J. Mertz

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Anticolonialism in Southeast Asia - Categories And Features Of Anticolonialism to Ascorbic acidAntifeminism - Defining Feminism And Antifeminism, Feminism, Antifeminism, And Difference, Nature, Science, Religion, And Antifeminism