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 ...
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 the Klan. During the 1920s, perhaps half a million white native-born Protestant women joined the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). Like their male counterparts, Klanswomen held reactionary views on race, nationality, and religion. But their perspectives on gender roles were often progressive. The Klan publicly asserted that a women's order could safeguard women's suffrage and expand their other legal rights. Privately the WKKK was working to preserve white Protestant supremacy. Blee draws from extensive archival research and interviews with former Klan members and victims to underscore the complexity of extremist right-wing political movements. Issues of women's rights, she argues, do not fit comfortably into the standard dichotomies of "progressive" and "reactionary." These need to be replaced by a more complete understanding of how gender politics are related to the politics of race, religion, and class.
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Publishers Weekly, 1992-06-15 A groundbreaking work about the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), which enrolled hundreds of thousands of recruits in the 1920s and '30s. Photos. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly, 1991-06-07 Probably no future history of the Ku Klux Klan will be written without reference to this ground-breaking work. In its first incarnation (1865-1872) the KKK was all-male, the instrument of ``violent masculinity protecting vulnerable femininity.'' Soon after it was revived in 1915, women, already active in the temperance and suffragist movements, began forming groups with Klan-like tenets; in 1923 these groups developed into the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), which lasted until the Depression and enrolled hundreds of thousands of recruits. Blee, an associate dean at the University of Kentucky, shows that while membership in the WKKK was limited to native-born, white Protestants, it was actually far from monolithic. It embraced many right-wing conservatives, but also included liberals, even socialists. All were prejudiced against Catholics, Jews, blacks and the foreign-born. Significantly, the WKKK was never a ``ladies' auxiliary'' of the male Klan. Members pursued their own agendas, whether their goals were merely social or involved militant battling for women's rights. The work will prove a revelation to many. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
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