Feminism and Anti-fascism in Britain: Militancy Revived?

  • Julie V. Gottlieb


British resistance to fascism at home and abroad gained the support of the vast majority of politicised women, perhaps like no other cause since suffrage. Women’s opposition to fascism had the potential to transcend party political sectionalism, heal the rift between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Feminism, and revitalise the women’s movement in staunch opposition to the male supremacy, misogyny and terror characteristic of fascist regimes and movements. The rise of fascism posed the greatest challenge yet imaginable to the political and social gains achieved by women after the First World War. Certainly the continuity between women’s suffrage militancy and anti-fascist mobilisation was not lost on contemporaries. Ethel Mannin explained how ‘all that the long-drawn-out fight of the Suffrage Movement achieved for women, all that the Great War made possible for them, at its own bitter price, will be swept away in a few months if Fascism comes to this country, and women will have no say in the matter, and be allowed no protest’.1 In November 1936 the Morning Post reported as follows: ‘About 30 Fascist interrupters were ejected by the police last night at Bow Baths, where Mr. George Lansbury and Mr. Herbert Morrison were addressing a meeting … One woman who was incensed at the attacks on Mr. Lansbury by a youth swung her bag and hit him across the face, shouting: “You would have been thrown out long before this in the old Suffragette days.”’2


Communist Party Labour Party European Woman German Woman British Woman 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Julie V. Gottlieb

There are no affiliations available

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