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Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1918-1939The Interwar Period$
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Catherine Clay, Maria DiCenzo, Barbara Green, and Fiona Hackney

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474412537

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412537.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Women’s Print Media, Fascism, and the Far Right in Britain Between the Wars

Women’s Print Media, Fascism, and the Far Right in Britain Between the Wars

(p.450) 29 Women’s Print Media, Fascism, and the Far Right in Britain Between the Wars
Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1918-1939

Julie Gottlieb

Edinburgh University Press

Women were well represented as leaders, activists, and as contributing journalists in the various fascist movements in Britain between the wars. The first movement to adopt the fascist name in Britain, the British Fascisti (1923–35), later the British Fascists (BF), founded by Miss Rotha Lintorn-Orman, published the British Fascist and the British Lion in which women’s issues and the activities of women in the movement were generously covered (Durham 1998; Gottlieb 2000). Although the much more successful British Union of Fascists (BUF, 1932–40) was male-led and male-dominated, its publications – Fascist Week, Blackshirt, Action, and its academically oriented Fascist Quarterly – also covered women’s issues and provided women’s pages. Further, for a short time in 1933–4, the BUF published the cyclostyled Woman Fascist, the news-sheet of the BUF’s Women’s Section, at that time under the leadership of former suffragette ‘Slasher’ Mary (Mary Richardson). Indeed, the influence of three former suffragettes on the evolution of the BUF’s women’s policy was decisive, and these veterans of the Pankhursts’ Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) entered into heated polemics with anti-fascist feminists inside and outside the pages of these publications. The BUF’s women’s policy and its stance on feminist-identified issues, from equal pay and the abolition of the marriage bar to the relationship between women and peace/pacifism, was more nuanced and sophisticated than we may imagine. The movement emphasised that its women’s policies differed from those of the Italian Fascist and Nazi German regimes (Passmore 2003). While distancing itself from Nazi reaction and violent misogyny, the BUF claimed it rejected ‘the sex war as it does the class war: as it does the whole political theory of division. It is by unity of purpose alone that our nation can struggle through to great things’ (Blackshirt 5 Oct 1934: 9). This essay surveys the content and the evolving themes and concerns as framed in these print media, with specific reference to women’s issues, the space accorded to women’s political engagement, and the attempted reconciliation between the ultimately irreconcilable creeds of fascism and feminism.

Keywords:   women’s periodicals, women’s magazines, interwar, British, feminism, women readers, modernism, fashion, domestic magazines, popular magazines

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