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Rethinking Right-Wing Women: Gender and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the Present

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Rethinking right-wing women explores the institutional structures for and the representations, mobilisation, and political careers of women in the British Conservative Party since the late-nineteenth century. Tory women have been effective and energetic party workers, and they have always been crucial for fund-raising, canvassing, electioneering work, and as voters at ele Rethinking right-wing women explores the institutional structures for and the representations, mobilisation, and political careers of women in the British Conservative Party since the late-nineteenth century. Tory women have been effective and energetic party workers, and they have always been crucial for fund-raising, canvassing, electioneering work, and as voters at election time. The history of women in the British Conservative Party has not received the attention it deserves. Tory women have been under-researched for the paradoxical reason that they are off the radar for most male-centred party and political historians, and, due to their presumed anti-feminist views and complicity with the patriarchal establishment, they are not embraced by women's and gender historians. Yet the Conservative Party has been highly successful with women at party level and within the electorate at large. This success helps to explain the party's hegemony for much of the twentieth century, and now into the twenty first century. Starting in the 1880s, and with the establishment of the Primrose League, women were politicised before they had the vote. Women's successful mobilisation for the party before they became citizens and, later, in the wake of women's suffrage in 1918 and the equal suffrage in 1928, played an instrumental role in the Conservative party's transformation and reinvention from elite to mass democratic party. Leading scholars in this field have come together with the Conservative Party archivist and Baroness Jenkin of Women2win to consider the accommodation some Conservative women made with the evolving women's emancipation agenda, and the strategies they pursued to make the party more gender balanced. This book also emphasises the importance of studying women's leadership and their engagement in non- or even in anti-feminist political projects, and open up new terrains of research and enquiry.


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Rethinking right-wing women explores the institutional structures for and the representations, mobilisation, and political careers of women in the British Conservative Party since the late-nineteenth century. Tory women have been effective and energetic party workers, and they have always been crucial for fund-raising, canvassing, electioneering work, and as voters at ele Rethinking right-wing women explores the institutional structures for and the representations, mobilisation, and political careers of women in the British Conservative Party since the late-nineteenth century. Tory women have been effective and energetic party workers, and they have always been crucial for fund-raising, canvassing, electioneering work, and as voters at election time. The history of women in the British Conservative Party has not received the attention it deserves. Tory women have been under-researched for the paradoxical reason that they are off the radar for most male-centred party and political historians, and, due to their presumed anti-feminist views and complicity with the patriarchal establishment, they are not embraced by women's and gender historians. Yet the Conservative Party has been highly successful with women at party level and within the electorate at large. This success helps to explain the party's hegemony for much of the twentieth century, and now into the twenty first century. Starting in the 1880s, and with the establishment of the Primrose League, women were politicised before they had the vote. Women's successful mobilisation for the party before they became citizens and, later, in the wake of women's suffrage in 1918 and the equal suffrage in 1928, played an instrumental role in the Conservative party's transformation and reinvention from elite to mass democratic party. Leading scholars in this field have come together with the Conservative Party archivist and Baroness Jenkin of Women2win to consider the accommodation some Conservative women made with the evolving women's emancipation agenda, and the strategies they pursued to make the party more gender balanced. This book also emphasises the importance of studying women's leadership and their engagement in non- or even in anti-feminist political projects, and open up new terrains of research and enquiry.

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