Labour History Review

‘Strong Minds, Great Hearts, True Faith and Ready Hands’? Exploring Socialist Masculinities Before the First World War

Labour History Review (2004), 69, (2), 201–217.

Abstract

This article explores whether British socialist politics before the First World War provided a space for a counter-hegemonic masculinity or masculinities. In order to reveal underlying assumptions about masculinity, a number of aspects of socialist practice are considered such as socialist iconography and the language employed within the movement. Opportunities to trace ‘subordinate’ masculinities (Tosh) are also provided by moments when the apparently monolithic edifice of masculinity are fractured, exposing sub-strata for scrutiny. The Oscar Wilde court cases of 1895 provided such a moment and the article explores socialist responses to it and what they reveal about socialist masculinities. But this article is not just concerned with perceptions of masculinity, it is also about everyday practices. Thus two important aspects of masculinity are examined in order to establish whether they took a specific socialist form: homosociability, specifically comradeship; and fatherhood. The article concludes by considering whether socialist pre-figurative practice in relation to masculinity was any more likely than in any other aspects of gender relations.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

For example H. Pelling, The Origins of the Labour Party, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1965; W. Kendall, The Revolutionary Movement in Britain, 1900-21. The Origins of British Communism, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969; R. Challinor, The Origins of British Bolshevism, London, Croom Helm, 1977. Google Scholar

For example, J. Hannam, ‘Women and the ILP, 1890-1914’, in D. James, T. Jowitt and K. Laybourn (eds), The Centennial History of the Independent Labour Party, Halifax, Ryburn, 1992; K. Hunt, Equivocal Feminists: the Social Democratic Federation and the Woman Question, 1884-1911, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996. The Centennial History of the Independent Labour Party Google Scholar

For example K. Hunt, ‘Fractured universality: the language of British socialism before the First World War’, in J. Belchem and N. Kirk (eds), Languages of Labour, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1997; J. Hannam and K. Hunt, ‘Gendering the stories of socialism: an essay in historical criticism’, in M. Walsh (ed.), Working Out Gender. Perspectives from Labour History, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1999; J. Hannam and K. Hunt, Socialist Women, Britain 1880s to 1920s, London, Routledge, 2002. Google Scholar

A. Baron, ‘On looking at men. Masculinity and the making of a gendered working-class history’, in A-L Shapiro (ed.), Feminists Revision History, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1994, p. 148. Feminists Revision History 148 Google Scholar

M. Lake, ‘Socialism and manhood: a reply to Bruce Scates’, Labour History, 60, 1991, p. 114. See also M. Lake, ‘Socialism and manhood: the case of William Lane’, Labour History, 50, 1986; B. Scates, ‘Socialism, feminism, and the case of William Lane: a reply to Marilyn Lake’, Labour History, 59, 1990; M. Leach, ‘Manly, true and white: masculine identity and Australian socialism’, in G. Stokes (ed.), The Politics of Identity in Australia, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997. ‘Socialism and manhood: a reply to Bruce Scates’ Labour History 60 114 Google Scholar

See for example, M. Crick, The History of the Social Democratic Federation, Halifax, Ryburn, 1994; K. Laybourn, The Rise of Socialism in Britain, Stroud, Sutton, 1997. Google Scholar

M. Francis, ‘Labour and gender', in D. Tanner, P. Thane and N. Tiratsoo (eds), Labour's First Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000. Labour's First Century Google Scholar

L. Ugolini, ‘"It is only justice to grant women's suffrage": Independent Labour Party men and women's suffrage, 1893-1905', in C. Eustance, J. Ryan and L. Ugolini (eds), A Suffrage Reader: Charting Directions in British Suffrage History, Leicester, Leicester University Press, 2000; L. Ugolini, ‘"We must stand by our bairns": ILP men and suffrage militancy, 1905-14', Labour History Review, 67, 2, 2002. A Suffrage Reader: Charting Directions in British Suffrage History Google Scholar

See G. L. Kaster, ‘Labour's true man: organised workingmen and the language of manliness in the USA, 1827-1877', Gender & History, 13, 1, 2001. ‘Labour's true man: organised workingmen and the language of manliness in the USA, 1827-1877’ Gender & History 13 Google Scholar

See J. Welskopp, ‘Defining masculinity politically: the construction of masculinity in German Social Democracy, 1848-78’ (abstract), Proceedings, 19th International Congress of Historical Sciences, Oslo, CISH, 2000, pp. 302-3. ‘Defining masculinity politically: the construction of masculinity in German Social Democracy, 1848-78’ 302 3 Google Scholar

J. Tosh, ‘What should historians do with masculinity? Reflections on nineteenth century Britain’, in R. B. Shoemaker and M. Vincent (eds), Gender and History in Western Europe, London, Arnold, 1998. See also J. Tosh, ‘The making of masculinities: the middle class in late nineteenth century Britain’, in A. John and C. Eustance (eds), The Men's Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women's Suffrage in Britain, 1890-1920, London, Routledge, 1997; J. Tosh, A Man's Place. Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1999. Gender and History in Western Europe Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

S. O. Rose, Limited Livelihoods. Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century England, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992, p. 187. Limited Livelihoods. Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century England 187 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

E. Showalter, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle, London, Bloomsbury, 1991. See also A. Richardson and C. Willis (eds), The New Woman in Fiction and in Fact, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2001. Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle Google Scholar

E. Hobsbawm, ‘Man and woman: images on the left', History Workshop, 6, 1978. See also S. Alexander, A. Davin and E. Hostettler, ‘Labouring women: a reply to Eric Hobsbawm', History Workshop, 8, 1979. For a more recent exploration of the gendered iconography of the labour movement, see E. D. Weitz, ‘The heroic man and the ever-changing woman: gender and politics in European communism, 1917-1950', in L. L. Frader and S. O. Rose (eds), Gender and Class in Modern Europe, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1996. Google Scholar

L. Ugolini, ‘"By all means let the ladies have a chance". The Workman's Times, independent labour representation and women's suffrage, 189-4', in John and Eustance (eds), The Men's Share?, pp. 71-5. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

For an exploration of socialist attitudes to consumption, see K. Hunt, ‘Negotiating the boundaries of the domestic: British socialist women and the politics of consumption', Women's History Review, 9, 2, 2000. ‘Negotiating the boundaries of the domestic: British socialist women and the politics of consumption’ Women's History Review 9 2 Google Scholar

Labour Leader, 30 March 1895. Google Scholar

Justice, 4 July 1891. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Justice, 23 September 1893. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See Hunt, Equivocal Feminists, pp. 188-91. Google Scholar

Justice, 21 October 1893 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See Hunt, Equivocal Feminists, chap. 5. Google Scholar

Justice, 21 February 1903. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See K. McClelland, ‘Masculinity and the "representative artisan" in Britain, 1850-80', in M. Roper, and J. Tosh (eds), Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800, London, Routledge, 1991; K. McClelland, ‘Rational and respectable men: gender, the working class, and citizenship in Britain, 1850-67', in Frader and Rose (eds), Gender and Class in Modern Europe; C. Hall, K. McClelland and J. Rendall, Defining the Victorian Nation: Class, Race, Gender and the Reform Act of 1867, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000, chap. 2. Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800 Google Scholar

A. Baron (ed.), Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1991. See also M. H. Blewett, ‘Masculinity and mobility: the dilemma of Lancashire weavers and spinnen in late nineteenth century Fall River, Massachusetts', in M. C. Carnes and C. Griffen (eds), Meanings for Manhood. Constructions of Masculinity in Victorian America, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1990. Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor Google Scholar

See J. Weeks, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, London, Quartet, 1977; A. Sinfield, The Wilde Century: Effeminacy, Oscar Wilde and the Queer Movement, London, Cassell, 1994. Google Scholar

Labour Leader, 13 April 1895. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See C. Tsuzuki, Tom Mann, 1856-1941. The Challenges of Labour, Oxford, Clarendon, 1991, pp. 102-8. Tom Mann, 1856-1941. The Challenges of Labour 102 8 Google Scholar

J. K. Hardie to J. Trevor, 23 April 1995, Francis Johnson Correspondence, 1895/78; J. Saville and R. Storey, ‘John Trevor', Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. 6, London, Macmillan, 1982. Google Scholar

H. Mitchell, The Hard Way Up, London, Virago, 1977, pp. 125-6; K. B. Glasier to M. MacDonald, 16 October 1910, Margaret MacDonald Correspondence, PRO 30/69/1377. The Hard Way Up 125 6 Google Scholar

See Hunt, Equivocal Feminists, pp. 94-104 for the Lanchester case (1895); for the Belt case (1899) see K. Hunt, ‘When the "private" becomes public: gossip, gender and socialist politics', unpublished paper to International Federation for Research in Women's History conference on Women, Family, Private Life and Sexuality, Queen's University, Belfast, August 2003. Google Scholar

Justice, 13 April 1895. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Ibid., 18 May 1895. See also D. Rubinstein, ‘Stewart Duckworth Headlam', in Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. 2, London, Macmillan, 1974. Google Scholar

Justice, 1 June 1895. Google Scholar

Labour Leader, 8 June 1895. Google Scholar

Quoted in Weeks, Coming Out, p. 21. Google Scholar

H. Cocks, ‘Calamus in Bolton: spirituality and homosexual desire in late Victorian England', Gender & History, 1,3, 2, 2001. ‘Calamus in Bolton: spirituality and homosexual desire in late Victorian England’ Gender & History 1,3 2 Google Scholar

Labour Leader, 27 April 1895. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See T. Lummis, ‘The historical dimension of fatherhood: a case study 1890-1914', in L. McKee and M. O'Brien (eds), The Father Figure, London, Tavistock, 1982; L. Davidoff et al., The Family Story. Blood, Contract and Intimacy 1830-1960, London, Longman, 1999, chap. 5. The Father Figure Google Scholar

Tosh, A Man's Place, p. 79. Google Scholar

Justice, 23 April 1904. Google Scholar

T. A. Jackson, Solo Trumpet, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1953, pp. 82-3. Solo Trumpet 82 3 Google Scholar

C. Benn, Keir Hardie, London, Hutchinson, 1992, p. 132. Keir Hardie 132 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

J. Bruce Glasier, James Keir Hardie. A Memorial, Manchester and London, National Labour Press, n.d. (1915). pp. 72-3. James Keir Hardie. A Memorial 72 3 Google Scholar

Bruce Glasier, Hardie, p. 63. Google Scholar

C. Nelson, Invisible Men. Fatherhood in Victorian Periodicals, 1850-1910, Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press, 1995, p. 209; Tosh, A Man's Place, p. 79. Invisible Men. Fatherhood in Victorian Periodicals, 1850-1910 209 Google Scholar

K. Cowman, ‘"Giving them something to do": how the early ILP appealed to women', in Walsh (ed.), Working Out Gender, p. 130. Google Scholar

J. Cox (ed.), A Singular Marriage. A Labour Love Story in Letters and Diaries. Ramsay and Margaret MacDonald, London, Harrap, 1988, p. 311. A Singular Marriage. A Labour Love Story in Letters and Diaries. Ramsay and Margaret MacDonald 311 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Quoted in D. Marquand, Ramsay MacDonald, London, Richard Cohen Books, 1997, p. 131. Ramsay MacDonald 131 Google Scholar

Cox (ed.), A Singular Marriage, p. 372. The emphasis is mine. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Tsuzuki, Tom Mann, pp. 107-8. Google Scholar

For example, see Barbara Castle's portrait of her ILPer father (Fighting All the Way, London, Macmillan, 1993, chaps 1 and 2) Google Scholar

S. Rowbotham, ‘Florence Exten-Hann — socialist and feminist', in her Dreams and Dilemmas, London, Virago, 1983, pp. 224-5. Dreams and Dilemmas 224 5 Google Scholar

See Hunt, Equivocal Feminists, chap. 2. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

J. Weeks and S. Rowbotham, Socialism and the New Life, London, Pluto, 1977, p. 16. See also S. Yeo, ‘A new life: the religion of socialism in Britain, 1883-96', History Workshop, 4, 1977. Socialism and the New Life 16 Google Scholar

For Carpenter, Merrill and housework, see Weeks and Rowbotham, New Life, pp. 85-6. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Hunt, Karen