Abstract

This chapter looks at opposition to gender equality as a component of political opportunity structures, a factor that conditions women’s movement mobilization either by limiting the opportunities available to it or by serving as its catalyst. In order to understand how opposition can become an aspect of political opportunities we analyze opposition to women’s movement mobilizatin for domestic violence policy progress in four countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The analysis adopts a wide understanding of opposition to gender equality, to include not just explicitly articulated challenges to gender equality claims but also challenges that at face value do not address gender equality, but still indirectly threaten a gender equality understanding of domestic violence policy. In order to understand contestation to gender equality in this field the chapter looks at frames opposing a gendered understanding of domestic violence, and actors behind them, state as well as non-state opponents. To understand dynamics between opposition and movement strategies it looks at coping and reaction mechanisms used by movement actors in the presence of opposition. The chapter argues first that opposition influences the meanings articulated by movement actors in their claims. Discursive structures that are oppositional or oppositional framing used by strong actors set boundaries to meanings that can be articulated in feminist mobilization for change. Secondly, it shows that opposition also influences strategies of mobilization including coalition formation, institutional alliances, as well as the mechanisms of influence. Overall this chapter demonstrates the importance of looking at opposition over time rather than as a snapshot. Over time, changes in the specific form opposition takes, and the extent it is gendered, and mobilization patterns connected to it, highlight aspects of temporality of opposition and the extent to which it is historically contingent, and dynamically constructed in arenas populated by movements and their allies, states and non-state opposition actors.