On feminists, white feathers and Anzac Day

For the benefit of overseas readers, Anzac Day commemorates “all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”

This year (2015) is of special significance in that it marks the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli (Turkey) in April 1915. As a consequence we are currently being bombarded with all things Anzac – documentaries, mini-series, promotional products, and so on. But this is understandable as the Anzac phenomenon is recognised by most Australians as a pivotal element in our ‘nation building’ narrative.

Whilst the focus has always been on our fallen soldiers, an increasing amount of attention is now being given to the role played by women in the First World War, particularly with regards to nurses working close to the front line.

Nevertheless the feminist lobby have long associated Anzac Day with ‘toxic masculinity’ and men’s innate desire to initiate wars and engage in wholesale violence (for example).

The wikipedia entry cited in my opening paragraph, for example, mentions that in 1978, “a women’s group laid a wreath dedicated to all the women raped and killed during war, and movements for feminism, gay rights, and peace used the occasion to draw attention to their respective causes at various times during the 1980s. In the 1980s, Australian feminists used the annual Anzac Day march to protest against rape and violence in war and were banned from marching.”

In condemning Anzac Day as a celebration of men’s propensity for violence, feminists appear to be either be blissfully unaware of, or to conveniently overlook, the existence of a movement known as the Order of the White Feather.

“The organization aimed to shame men into enlisting in the British Army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform.

This was joined by prominent feminists and suffragettes of the time, such as Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel. They, in addition to handing out the feathers, also lobbied to institute an involuntary universal draft, which included those who lacked votes due to being too young or not owning property.

The White Feather movement facilitated the war deaths of untold numbers of young men, as well as the shaming and suicide of many other men who either chose not to join the army or who were denied active service (which could occur for a variety of reasons).

On a final note, some have compared the White Feather movement to the present-day White Ribbon campaign, given the level of feminist influence surrounding both and their shared emphasis on male shaming.

See also:

15 articles about men and war that will make you think again (1 July 2016)

Lest We Forget, by Mark Dent (20 April 2016)

A reminder that suffragettes did not get women the vote but instead commit terrorism (27 December 2015)

The White Feather campaign in the Second World War (29 October 2012)

Pankhurst: The white feather betrayal of history (15 November 2012)

White Feathers during World War II Caused the Suicides of Two Teenage Boys (30 November 2013)

15 articles about men and war that will make you think again (9 November 2014)

Christabel Pankhurst – The White Feather betrayal of history (12 December 2014)

A couple of related reddit mens rights discussion threads:

TIL that early feminists would attempt to humiliate men who were not soldiers during WWI

The order of the White Feather

Other posts in this blog that may be of interest:

Do feminists have any male heroes?

On masculinity and ‘real men’

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