In 1929, “torches of freedom” was a phrase adopted by Edward Bernays to encourage women smoking by exploiting their aspirations for a better life during the women’s liberation movement in the United States. According to Bernays, cigarettes symbolized torches of freedom. They were used as symbols of emancipation and equality with men. In 1929, it was not socially acceptable for women to smoke in public. Women have been fighting for their rights in the United States since the women rights movement began in the 1800s. After the women’s rights movement ended, African American women alone were then discriminated against. They were not allowed to vote until the 1960s. When African American women were permitted to vote, the total number of black women registered to vote was higher than that of white women. In order to prevent black women from having more political power than whites due to population, they were systematically disenfranchised. This was done by making African American women pay ridiculously high taxes, wait in long lines to vote and even requiring that they take tests before being allowed to vote. More severe tactics included bodily harm and fabricated charges that caused many women to be arrested. Although the issue of feminism has been prevalent in the United States, it has also been in issue globally. In China, laws prohibit women from conceiving. Before 2015, couples were limited to one child. Those who violated this policy faced punishments that included fines, loss of employment and abortions. Families were able to pay to conceive, but this option is nonexistent for families living in poverty. Just recently, the law was changed and coupled were permitted to conceive two children. Feminism is an ongoing issue for women across the world. Because we are women, we are often perceived as inferior to men and in most cultures, it is the man’s duty and right to make decisions for women and even control her body. For this reason, feminism represents transnational collective action.
Internal social movements work to address domestic issues. They operate in accordance to local culture and beliefs. Transnational collective action weakens national borders and attempts to transform domestic political systems and international policies. They create new issues for the international agenda, mobilize new constituencies, alter understandings of interests and identities, and sometimes change state practices (Khagram et al. 2002). Although social movements address domestic issues, they are becoming globalized through three important processes: diffusion, domestication and externalization. The ideologies of these movements are spreading from one country to another, thus weakening national borders. Domestication refers to playing out on domestic territory of conflicts that have their origin externally. Protesters in the past have often targeted government at the national level versus the international level. Social movements today are becoming globalized by challenging this and aiming at international institutions directly. They are also moving toward globalization through externalization. Activists are challenging supranational institutions to intervene in domestic conflicts. Many governments and individuals tend to ignore an issue when it is not happening in their country. Globalizing social movements creates global citizens. Global citizens are aware and concerned about the well-being of everyone, despite their nationality.
While transnational collective action is ideal, it is not easily done. Three issues emerging from TCA are threatened cultures, separation of groups and the creation of anti-global citizens. As we attempt to collectively solve issues, we must consider the culture and values of those included. This gets difficult when considering two unlike cultures as it becomes hard to satisfy both with a mutual solution. Cultures also are divided by their desires and then labels are placed on each party furthering the gap between beliefs and making individuals reluctant to identifying as global citizens.