Publication Details

Crozier-De Rosa, S., The Shame of the Violent Woman in S. Crozier-De Rosa and Vera Mackie, Shame and the anti-feminist backlash: Britain, Ireland and Australia, 1890-1920, Routledge, New York, 2018, 193-230.

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Additional Publication Information

"Chapter 7 - The Shame of the Violent Woman" has been made available with permission from the publisher.


British and Irish suffragettes invited passionate opposition. British anti-suffragists were adamant that violence degraded womanhood. Physically, women were not suited to the exercise of physical force. Women’s bodies were built to facilitate the more nurturing and less destructive function of childbirth. Emotionally, they were not trained to engage in legitimate forms of violence as men were. Honour codes directed men’s use of violence. Men were directed to adhere to standards of courage, chivalry, and fairness when engaging in physical combat with each other. Women were not brought up to embody these virtues. Violent women were, therefore, aberrations. This chapter examines anti-feminist opposition to female acts of militancy on the grounds that women’s violence jeopardised the operation of codes of chivalry that were established to protect them—the weaker sex—from the violent actions of men—the stronger sex. The chapter also analyses patriotic Irish women’s rejection of the shame of the violent woman and their construction of a feminist and nationalist ethics of violence. Patriotic Irish women claimed that their militancy could help restore national honour by returning the ancient nation to its pre-colonised state—one in which male and female warriors co-existed.