Patriarchy, militarism and the peace movement
Rebecca Johnson talks about the anti-militarist feminism which she subscribed to
Feminists were the backbone of the UK peace movement from the 1950s onwards. Anti-war politics and women’s liberation politics often complemented each other. Members of the Women’s Liberation Movement were highly active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, in anti-Vietnam War protests. They were also active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). In this section you can listen to three women talking about their involvement with peace protests, anti-militaristic movements and conflict resolution.
Rosalind Delmar talks about how she became politically active
Cynthia Cockburn talks about women maintaining patriarchy
Anti-Vietnam protests reach London
Anti-Vietnam War protests started in the USA in 1964. Although there was only small-scale action at that time in the UK, significant opposition to the Vietnam War had built up by 1968. A huge rally was organised in London’s Trafalgar Square, with demonstrators then marching to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square. There they were met by mounted police who arrested over 200 people; nearly 90 were injured in the fights that broke out.
Rebecca Johnson discusses campaigning for nuclear disarmament
CND and women’s place within peace politics
Many feminists were involved with CND as school or university students. They brought their anti-war politics and peace activism to the women’s movement from the late 1960s onwards. Two particularly famous anti-nuclear demonstrations were the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common (1981–2000) and the march between London and the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. This march took place annually from 1958 to 1965, with revivals in 1972, 2004 and 2008.
Women’s politics intertwined with anti-war politics in different ways. Some activists argued against nuclear weapons from the point of view of mothers concerned about their children’s future. Others linked all military action with patriarchal society. They pointed out that fewer women perpetrate violence than men and that women are less likely to be in positions of power where they command armies or initiate wars. Feminists also made connections between the sexual disadvantage and inequality experienced by women, sexual violence and military aggression. For these women peace politics and feminism were inseparable.
Cynthia Cockburn talks about how the group Women in Black was formed in 1993
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