En-Gendering the Clash: Ellen Wilkinson and Interwar Socialist Feminism
Keywords:Ellen Wilkinson, feminism, working Class, socialism, general strike, subjectivity, romance
Ellen Wilkinson’s status as a pioneer in the history of British working-class feminism is to a great extent mediated by her reputation as the author of the 1929 novel Clash. This book stands out for its topical relevance as a major reflection on the 1926 General Strike and as a crucial interrogation of conflicting identities within the “progressive” movements of the period. In particular, Wilkinson manages to expose the contradictions haunting the labour movement on account of its stance on gender issues, and to criticise the class logic (or bias) underpinning established feminism. Wilkinson refuses to accept the terms of what she considers a disabling opposition (between labour and feminist militancy), resolving instead to weld a dialectical alternative in which gender and class identities are experienced as mutually reinforcing rather than exclusive.
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