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Paperback Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s Book

ISBN: 0520078764

ISBN13: 9780520078765

Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s

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Book Overview

Ignorant. Brutal. Male. One of these stereotypes of the Ku Klux Klan offer a misleading picture. In Women of the Klan , sociologist Kathleen Blee unveils an accurate portrait of a racist movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country. In so doing, she dismantles the popular notion that politically involved women are always inspired by pacifism, equality, and justice. "All the better people," a former Klanswoman assures us, were in...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Then and Now

According to author Kathleen Blee, "It is more helpful to understand the second Klan by considering it within - rather than as an aberration from - the ideas and values that shaped white Protestant life in the early twentieth century, fueling fundamentalism..." Sound provocative? Dr. Blee also maintains that Klanswomen held the same fanatical views on race, religion, and nationalism as their menfolk - in other words, anti-negro, anti-semitic, anti-Catholic, and hyper-patriotic - but that their perspcetive on gender roles were often progressive. In the 1920s, as many as half a million women joined the ladies' auxiliary of the KKK (the WKKK). Were they just aping their husbands or were there specific motivations that brought women to an organization notorious for rough-neck violence? Well, sexual fears may indeed have played a role. The fraudulent portrayal of ex-slaves assaulting white women in the vile racist movie, Birth of a Nation, is credited with stimulating the resurgence of the Klan. Women had received the vote nationally only in 1918, on a wave of optimism that their votes would naturally fall on the side of justice, decency, and pacifism. "Women in the Klan" reveals how fallacious (and sexist) that attitude was. Racism of the vicious intensity of the Ku Klux Klan is not extinct in America or in the world at large. If you'd like to get a dose of pseudo-scientific anti-Semitism as putrid as any in the rhetoric of the Klan, take a look at "The Culture of Critique" by Kevin MacDonald, a professor at a major university in southern California. Be sure to read some of the many five-star reviews, including ugly diatribes and racial-purity fantasies by young Scandinavian men. Like a herpes zoster virus that lurks in nerve tissue for decades and then erupts as shingles, racism lingers in the scum of our educated populace.

Great short history of both Klu Klux Klans!

This is one of the few histories of the Klan that clearly documents the fact that there have been not one, but two Klu Klux Klans. It also examines just how deeply women were involved in the movement, a little-noticed phenomenon in the past.Obviously the Klan we know today was always a hate group, but it's astounding just how large, wealthy, and powerful the group was, with millions of members (as opposed to today, where they have a few thousand at best), and members in every state of the union.It's also astounding just how powerful they were, and how involved women were in the organization. One thing the book highlights, that reviewers generally don't mention, is how many people were in the Klan without recognizing the violent or terroristic nature of the organization. The most discomfiting parts she documents are how many people who were involved simply viewed the Klan as a very normal, responsible organization that was a boon to its communities. The Klan worked hard to develop an aura of respectability--quite successfully, at least for a while.I am rather stunned by several of the other reviews here, which say dumb things about feminism, animal rights, etc. I suggest ignoring those reviews, as they're obviously written by silly people. This is a very good book--highly readable, informative, and insightful. I recommend it highly.

Disturbing truth

I'm hardly surprised that reviews have been negative as this book breaks into the holy ground of feminism, proving beyond doubt that feminism and racism shared early roots.I have done a lot of studying on feminism and there is little here that isn't available elsewhere but this work puts much in one place, making it easy to show how the modern femininist organisation NOW and the earlier WKKK are so closely related. More to the point it shows how feminism is a form of hate or superiority cult and has little to do with real equality. For example an extreme radical animal rights type is undisputed as an animal lover - are extreme radical feminists known for a desire for extreme equality? Or simply bias towards women and contempt for men?

Complicates our view of race, gender, and social movements

Blee's work on women in hate movements sheds new light on why women join and support white supremacist movements. Her analysis of extensive archival data and interviews complicates how our assumptions about the role of gender in promoting bigotry and prejudice, while at the same time heralding eerily feminist principles. My students loved it because it was clear, engaging, and gave them several issues to grapple with around research and data interpretation. Though white supremacists were (and still are) on the whole, economically disenfranchised adn educationally bankrupt, Blee shows how a few "dangerous minds" are capable of mobilizing mass numbers of people in the name of "racial superiority."
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