The biography of an insurgent woman

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833–1918) was one of the most significant pioneers of the British women's emancipation movement, though her importance is little recognised. Wolstenholme Elmy referred to herself as an ‘initiator’ of movements, and she was at the heart of every campaign Victorian feminists conducted — her most well-known position being that of secretary of the Married Women's Property Committee from 1867–82. A fierce advocate of human rights, as the secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, Wolstenholme Elmy earned the nickname of the ‘parliamentary watch-dog’ from Members of Parliament anxious to escape her persistent lobbying. Also a feminist theorist, she believed wholeheartedly in the rights of women to freedom of their person, and was the first woman ever to speak from a British stage on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape. Wolstenholme Elmy engaged theoretically with the rights of the disenfranchised to exert force in pursuit of the vote, and Emmeline Pankhurst lauded her as ‘first’ among the infamous suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union. As a lifelong pacifist, however, she resigned from the WSPU Executive in the wake of increasingly violent activity from 1912. A prolific correspondent, journalist, speaker and political critic, Wolstenholme Elmy left significant resources, believing they ‘might be of value’ to historians. This book draws on a great deal of this documentation to produce a portrait that does justice to her achievements as a lifelong ‘Insurgent woman’.

1 The making of a feminist: 1833–61 A past concealed The most well-known portrait photograph of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy presents an image of a petite, frail-looking elderly woman.1 Her hair is dressed in a cascade of grey ringlets and she gazes out at the viewer with penetrating, dark eyes. At the base of her throat a large cameo brooch is pinned to a dark dress. It is her only visible jewellery. While few of these images remain today, Elizabeth was proud that a professional photographer employed by the WSPU had travelled to her home in Buglawton, Cheshire

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement
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For the love of God

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in The subject of love
Women in the Freethought movement

. The emblematic figure of the ‘Freethinking feminist’ was established early on by leading women in the Owenite movement, who continued to be looked up to by female Secularists later in the century when Freethought became more established and respectable. Although there is no evidence that it became harder for women to become involved in the movement as the century progressed (Freethinking women were always such a tiny

in Infidel feminism

10 Feminist responses to Thatcher and Thatcherism Laura Beers The self-­described ‘feminist stand-­up comic’ Bridget Christie published A Book for Her, in which the author attempts to make the politics and precepts of the modern women’s movement a­ ccessible – ­and ­funny – ­to women. The book includes a riff on ‘Tory feminism’. Christie’s point of departure is the phenomenon of Conservative women, including the Prime Minister Theresa May (then the Home Secretary and former Minister for Women and Equalities), wearing a T-­shirt with ‘This is what a feminist

in Rethinking right-wing women

03_Gender_Lib_Dems_047-073 15/12/10 09:05 Page 47 3 Feminist presence and women’s descriptive representation I’m very frustrated when I hear women running away from the term ‘feminist’. If we don’t have the courage to stand by our convictions then we will lose so much of the hard work we’ve bargained for over the years. You have to continue to be courageous, which is why I don’t have a problem with being a feminist. Interview with a Liberal Democrat MP Research has highlighted that a feminist presence is often critical to bringing about gendered changes

in Gender and the Liberal Democrats

This article provides a reading of gender politics in cyberpunk, drawing upon the Gothic, the cyborg and the (post)feminist subject. This reading is effected through an account of the ass-kicking techno-babe, a crucial component of the masculine strand of cyberpunk which valorises a masculinity and technology dialectic and draws upon film noir, with its hardboiled detectives and monstrous femmes fatales. From Molly Million‘s in Neuromancer to Y.T. in Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash (1992) and Trinity in Andy and Larry Wachowski‘s Matrix trilogy (1999–2003), this figure of the femme fatale demonstrates that the (post)feminist project of the ass-kicking techno-babe has found a home in the Gothic aesthetics of the noir-inf(l)ected genre of cyberpunk. The account of how hyper-sexualised cyborgic female bodies are positioned in contrast with the repressed bodies of male hackers reveals the destabilising conundrum of supposed agency contained by the determinacy of the (post)feminist body.

Gothic Studies

In the autumn of 1869, the Freethinking feminist Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy left the Social Science Congress determined to fight the Contagious Diseases Acts. Wolstenholme Elmy was encouraged by the Congress voting to oppose the Acts, which introduced the state regulation of prostitution by forcing women suspected of soliciting to undergo medical checks and possible detention in ‘lock hospitals

in Infidel feminism

 59 4 FEMINIST HURT/​ FEMINISM HURTS1 Sa r a Ah me d I n my last post, I explored the question of fragility (Ahmed, 2014e). Behind my exploration was a reposing of the question of response and responsibility: how can we respond to the histories that leave some bodies, some relationships, more fragile than others? How can we face up to those histories of losing face? We can be shattered by what we come up against. And then we come up against it again. We can be exhausted by what we come up against. And then we come up against it again. The question of

in The power of vulnerability

‘ the truest form of patriotism ’ 10 Feminist responses to the second Anglo-Boer war, 1899–19021 T he various pacifist feminist discourses discussed in this book co-existed and to some extent competed with one another, a phenomenon seen particularly clearly during the final years of the study. An examination of the responses to the second Anglo-Boer war of 1899–1902 illustrates how nationalist and imperialist campaigns could challenge feminist arguments regarding women’s unique role in the nation. The Anglo-Boer war concludes the period under discussion in

in ‘The truest form of patriotism’