‘Basically Feminist’: Women Strike for Peace, Maternal Peace Activism, and Memory of the Women’s Peace Movement


Coburn, Jon. 2021. “‘Basically Feminist’: Women Strike for Peace, Maternal Peace Activism, and Memory of the Women’s Peace Movement.” Journal of Women’s History 33 (2): 136–62.

Author: Jon Coburn


This article examines the varying historical expressions of activists in Women Strike for Peace (WSP) to assess how changing gender ideology and feminist beliefs influenced the memory of the women's peace movement. A transformation in collective identity occurred among WSPers in the late 1960s, causing the group to engage with the women's movement in a way that had not previously occurred. Exploring how activists understood their past, this article reveals that leaders revised their group's historical narrative to craft a collective memory that gave WSP a history of feminist activism. This is shown most prominently in the reappraisal of Bella Abzug and the histories produced by activist Amy Swerdlow. The article argues that interpretations of the history and memory of the women's peace movement must acknowledge how gender politics change over time. It asserts the significance of this transformation for historicizing feminist beliefs among women's peace activists.

Topics: Gender, Femininity/ies, Gender Roles, Political Participation, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Countries: United States of America

Year: 2021

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