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Transnational Radicalism and the Connected Lives of Tom Mann and Robert Samuel Ross$
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Neville Kirk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940094

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940094.001.0001

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‘True Womanhood’

‘True Womanhood’

(p.173) 5 ‘True Womanhood’
Transnational Radicalism and the Connected Lives of Tom Mann and Robert Samuel Ross

Neville Kirk

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reveals the attitudes and practices of Mann and Ross towards the issues of women and gender. It argues both that they welcomed women into the labour and socialist movements and also valued women’s contributions in the domestic, reproductive and productive spheres. As such they did not articulate the patriarchal attitudes so common among their male labour-movement contemporaries. Rather they embraced the cause of ‘full’ or ‘true’ emancipation for women. Yet at the same time they did not advocate either the abolition of the nuclear family or ‘free love’. Ross, in common with most Australian labour activists, articulated a highly racialised and racist view of ‘womanhood’. During the interwar period Mann continued to advocate the full emancipation of women and opposed racism. But he was also a member of an organisation, the Communist Party of Great Britain, which, despite its professed goals to ‘transcend the division of the sexes’, was dominated by men and ‘masculinist’ attitudes and practices. For both men women’s and feminist concerns played second fiddle to those of class. This chapter makes a new contribution to the literature on gender, class and race.

Keywords:   Historiography, Mann, Ross, Women, Gender, Class, Race, Patriarchy, Mutuality, Communism

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