Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb

When it comes to controversial topics, Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb* surely is talking about one of them. The subtitle is Emmeline Pankhurst and Her Right-Wing Followers. As I was not born or raised in UK, I think I can engage with this topic more objectively than others who were taught that the suffragette movement is the reason they can vote right now. Thus, I was very intrigued by the topic discussed in this book. I read a few of his books and I enjoyed them.

He takes an unusual and controversial look at the suffragette movement, which is refreshing and something I think it should be explored more. Many people think that the leaders and the movements should be perfectly clean and in line with modern day ideals, which is strange, considering that ideas and ideals change over time, when people learn more, but to learn we need to start the conversation.

Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb

Talking about fascism is always difficult. Unlike communist movements in Europe, which were highly controlled from Moscow by the Comintern, fascism, being far-right, is unique to each country. German fascism differs from Italian fascism and from Spanish fascism, and by quite a lot on topics like religion, for example. I think he could have explored that a bit more in the beginning of the book. Also he needed to add footnotes or endnotes for a book this controversial.

Webb goes on to compare Emmeline Pankhurst and Women’s Social and Political Union to fascist movements. He says that WSPU was financed by wealthy backers, terrorism was used against working-class men and women, it was an anti-Semitic group, and also undemocratic. It was interesting to see quotes from wikipedia, as they are used by many today for a quick research and so what is mentioned in there is relevant for exactly these reasons. Even something that sounds as clear as “unoccupied” is not what it seems in the beginning.

In his attempt to link the suffragettes to the fascist movements in Europe he makes comparisons on topics which were a bit strange, like anti-vivisection and vegetarianism, which gets a bit muddled and seems as a diatribe. Also, Hitler was not a vegetarian, as he says in the book, this was a bit of propaganda. Even if Hitler and some suffragette were veggie, that’s not what made them fascists. Many of the animal activists today are left-wing. This is why I gave the book 4 stars, some of the things mentioned felt exaggerated to make a point and there was not an attempt to present data objectively.

I gave the book 4 stars and I would recommend it. It could have been easily a 5 stars book with a bit of care around the construction of a couple of the arguments and footnotes/endnotes.

Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Year it was published: 2020
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History – 20th Century
Pages: 191

About the author: Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Books by him: Forgotten Slave Trade; The Analogue Revolution; Post-War Childhood; 1919: Britainโ€™s Year of Revolution; A History of Torture in Britain; British Concentration Camps; First World War Trials and Executions; Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers; Suffragette Fascists; The Suffragette Bombers.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.



7 thoughts on “Suffragette Fascists by Simon Webb”

  • Anca, I love a good historical book either fiction or non fiction especially about brave women. I’ve done some reading about the suffragette movement in the US and by doing so learned just how radical the movement was across the pond. This looks like something I would enjoy reading.

    • Hi Debbie, thank you for your comment. The suffragette movement was radical in UK and it is the one more talked about. The suffragist movement was not radical, but it is not as talked about, maybe because they were not as controversial.
      I would love to read about women movements in other parts of the world, like US, and I will do that when I have a bit more time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I don’t know much about any suffragette movements other than those in the US. Even then, I’m not as informed as I should be. And when it coms to Fascism, I know even less. I should find a good book (or article) that simplifies it for me!
    Kelly recently posted…Books for December 2020My Profile

    • I don’t know about suffragette movements in other countries, beside UK. Not even from Romania, as there, 40 years of communism made it irrelevant who fought for women to get the vote, when nobody’s vote counted at all.
      Fascism is very complicated, as it is so different from country to country, something I discovered when I studied the Spanish Civil War.

  • Hi Anca,
    First of all I have to say what an interesting and thoughtful review this was, you worked through your 4 star reasoning really well!
    I have to say that whilst I have read a few fiction books which include references to the suffragette movement, I have never studied the period as a historical period in its own right. Therefore I can only comment superficially about the subject with my own personal opinion, as a general non-feminist. Of course I believe that everyone should have the right to a vote and to be treated equally, however it seems to me that women these days are trying to tip the balance of the scales too far in the other direction, to where women have the upper hand. There are so many business clubs and groups (I only picked that as an example) which specifically use the word ‘women’ in the title, however there are no corresponding groups which are specifically labelled as ‘men’s’ groups. I see no reason for things to have to be that specific, surely a business group, or any other similar group, should and always used to, encompass both genders, without needing to say so! I’m done!! Hope that all is well with you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • If you want to read about the movement, I would suggest this book. Because he is explaining why some things are not as presented in most books, you can easily get the idea of what is presented in most books. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is why I like his books so much. The suffragettes were not about votes for everyone, not even for all women, but votes for women which had an university degree or owned property. But, today, they are presented as if they were fighting for all women, of all classes.

      I agree with you on positive discrimination. Many years ago, at the start of my career I attended a government paid training programme, designed for women (back in Romania), and the only thing that all of us had in common was our gender. It was not even a networking event, as we might meet for a coffee afterwards, but nothing work-related, as our jobs were so different that we just did not have a common ground to talk about. This is why I avoid any association with a gender in its name, as it is, most likely, a waste of time for me.

      • Positive Discrimination of any kind, not just women, is the one topic which is designed to wind Dave up, no problem! Channel 4 news is one of the worst culprits for it and as we tend to record their evening news than play it back while we are eating dinner, I seldom get a peaceful mealtime! ๐Ÿ™‚

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