Jennifer's posts

M. Durham ‘Women and the British Union of Fascists. 1932-40 ch in K. Lunn and T. Kushner ed. The politics of marginality: race, the radical right and minorities in 20th Century Britain (1990) Pg 3-16.

Durham starts by noting that there has been a lot written on the British union of Fascists, but there has been very little written on the role of Women that were involved in the movement. He notes that the movement was very male orientated but women also played an important role in BUF activity, especially the campaign against war.

The BUF wanted women to join and made an effort to recruit them so that they would be able to help develop the structure and policies in an attempt to make fascism appeal to women. The BUF were trying to campaign for equal pay for women, they wanted equal pay for equal work. They also wanted to remove the marriage barrier on all careers and hoped that working conditions would be improved and sex discrimination would be put to an end. The BUF were focused on equality and society viewing women as citizens and workers, as well as viewing them as mothers and wives. However, BUF writers had said that equal pay could lead to the dismissal of many workers but in the long run this would cancel out. This was because when a man married a woman there would no longer be any reason for the women to continue with her employment as the male’s wage would be enough to support them. It was the women’s birth right to be the mother and wife, not the breadwinner.

The BUF were also campaigning against war and used the women for this campaign. They believed that women, as mothers had a natural attachment to peace. Therefore, it was up to the women to teach their children that they should not fight, and that Brits only fight when their country is under attack. Women wanted to fight for their children and for a government that would not bring war, so that their husbands did not have to leave again.

However, Durham suggests that there may have been some exaggeration about the women in the BUF, as it is hard to tell if the articles about the women joining the movement were authentic, or if they were a journalistic creation to help the movement gain followers. He also notes that when asked to recall their time in the BUF many women had problems remembering.

Durham ends by stating that women joined the British union of Fascists as they wanted to be part of something important and they got a thrill from it. He also states that the BUF attitudes were not straight forward, they were complex and hard to understand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *