Women of the Klan by Kathleen M. Blee
Racism and Gender in the 1920s

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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.

About Kathleen M. Blee

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Kathleen M. Blee is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Published August 4, 1992 by University of California Press. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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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 ma

Jun 29 1992 | Read Full Review of Women of the Klan: Racism and...

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In this timely account, based on in-depth interviews with 34 women in organized racist and anti-Semitic groups (Christian Identity, neo-Nazi, white power skinheads, Ku Klux Klan) and a study of their publications between 1993 and 1994, Blee, a sociology professor and author of Women of the Klan, ...

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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.

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