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Pacifism and feminism in Victorian Britain

substantial characteristics of both of these ideologies. Pacifist analyses of power relations between nations and the effects of military force were combined with feminist understandings of the ways in which women were oppressed. Ideas evolved which encompassed both the claim that women had the right to define their own place in society, and also the desire to renounce war and establish alternative models of conflict resolution. As a result, specifically ‘pacifist feminist’ standpoints can be identified which denote a politics where the two modes of analysis are applied

in ‘The truest form of patriotism’
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Pacifist feminism in the IAPA

Women were often represented in their traditional role as mothers, and pacifist feminists frequently emphasised the special reasons why women as a sex would benefit from an end to war – usually via the argument that women suffered through losing husbands and sons – but there was also great interest in ungendered questions of international arbitration and conflict resolution. Auxiliaries such as the Women’s Committee engaged with similar arguments to the mainstream peace movement, and Concord regularly carried a ‘Women’s Column’ that covered publications or speeches on

in ‘The truest form of patriotism’
Feminist journals and peace questions

to condemn war as a means of conflict resolution. ‘War’, she wrote, ‘should be the last resort after negotiation and arbitration have failed.’ She criticised not only the ‘dynastic’ forces which were causing working men to die on behalf of a quarrel that was between governments, but also the treatment of women in war: if our sympathies are aroused on behalf of the masses of Frenchmen plunged into war . . . what must they be for the nations of French and German women on whom the burden and the misery of war falls in an equal or even greater measure than on men, and

in ‘The truest form of patriotism’