Solidarity in Head-Scarf and Pussy Bow Blouse: Reflections on Feminist Activism and Knowledge Production

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Solidarity in Head-Scarf and Pussy Bow Blouse: Reflections on Feminist Activism and Knowledge Production


  • Lena Gemzöe Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden


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Abstract:  The author of this article discusses the ways in which gender equality and intersectionality are understood and enacted in two recent feminist campaigns in Sweden that use similar techniques to mobilise support for different causes. The first campaign is the so-called Hijab Call-to-Action, a solidarity action that took place in 2013 in which women in Sweden wore a hijab (the Muslim headscarf) for one day in defence of Muslim women’s rights. This campaign manifests the ways in which the notion of gender equality brings with it a norm of secularity, but also how the equation of equality and secularity is contested. The second feminist campaign discussed is the so-called Pussy Bow Blouse manifestation that aimed at taking a stand in the controversies surrounding the Swedish Academy as a result of the Metoo campaign in Sweden. The author looks at the political and discursive processes enfolded in these campaigns as a sort of collective learning processes that connect feminist activism and scholarship. A key concern is to critically analyse a binary model of powerless versus gender-equal or feminist women that figure in both debates. Further, the author shows that both campaigns appeal to solidarity through identification, but at the same time underscore the contingent and coalitional nature of identity in the act of dressing in a scarf or a blouse to take on a (political) identity for a day.

Keywords:  gender equality; headscarf; feminism; Metoo campaign; Muslim; pussy bow blouse; religion; secularity; solidarity; women

Published:   22 November 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i4.1563


© Lena Gemzöe. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.