Women of the Klan

Essay by meatizmurderCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2005

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In Women of the Klan, sociologist Kathleen Blee portrays a disturbing and provocative look at the hidden world of the KKK, focusing on women. Through her own research, historical documents, letters, and in-camera interviews, Blee dispels many misconceptions and explains the notion of organized racism. She also sheds light on how gender relationships shape participation in the movement as a whole. It may seem surprising that women were involved in the Klan, but many elements of the Klan's platform were intended to appeal to women. The Klan tended to act as a kind of interest group for the average female white Protestant who believed that her values should be dominant in American society. "The Klan became a means through which average citizens could resist elite political domination and attempt to make local and even state governments more responsive to popular interests." [353]

Klanswomen did not enjoy 100% equality with Klansmen, but the Klan's principles valued the purity of womanhood and the sanctity of the home.

Though women had been involved, to some extent, the WKKK was viewed by its members not merely as a supporting organization, but as a society "by women, for women, and of women [that] no man is exploiting for his individual gain" (28). Enforcing Prohibition was a cornerstone of the KKK's "reform" agenda. In this the Klan shared a position held by many progressive reformers, including many suffragists and feminists, who condemned the use of alcohol as detrimental to society. The Klan opposed subordination in all forms, including prostitution and gambling. The Klan was active in politics, and supported women's right to vote. They saw the WKKK as the newest recruiting targets of racist groups and crucial to their campaign for racial supremacy. The WKKK felt the need to "contradictory interactions of gender politics...

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