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Gender and Political Identities in Scotland, 1919-1939$
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Annmarie Hughes

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748639816

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639816.001.0001

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Socialist Women, Feminists and Feminism

Socialist Women, Feminists and Feminism

(p.103) Chapter 5 Socialist Women, Feminists and Feminism
Gender and Political Identities in Scotland, 1919-1939

Annmarie Hughes

Edinburgh University Press

Many contemporary socialist men were antagonistic towards the first-wave feminist movement in Britain, believing that the women's movement ‘deflected the minds of the people from socialist propaganda and socialist activities’. Opinions such as these have led a number of labour and feminist historians to identify the British labour movement as male-dominated and hostile to feminism and the feminist movement. Indeed, it seems that the working men and men of the labour movement were so suspicious of the largely middle-class feminist movement and separate sex organisations, which they regarded as undemocratic, that they advocated a policy whereby socialist women were expected to avoid contact with such organisations to the detriment of feminism and potential coalitions. However, feminism was not the preserve of middle-class women and formal feminist groups. There was a significant number of feminists within the labour movement in Scotland and among working-class women more generally. Although class issues may have remained more important than gender concerns within the labour movement, there were a variety of perspectives on feminism which allowed women to promote gender questions too. Furthermore, while feminists had to compete with anti-feminist ideas, most female activists within the labour movement were feminist in some form or another.

Keywords:   labour movement, feminism, feminists, feminist movement, socialist women

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