Christabel Pankhurst: Fundamentalism and Feminism in Coalition

Christabel Pankhurst: Fundamentalism and Feminism in Coalition

TIMOTHY LARSEN
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt14brvj4
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  • Book Info
    Christabel Pankhurst: Fundamentalism and Feminism in Coalition
    Book Description:

    Christabel Pankhurst was arguably the most influential member of her famous family in the struggle to win the vote for women in the years before the First World War. Paradoxically, she has also been the most neglected subsequently by historians. Part of the reason for this may be that, in the years after women's suffrage had been achieved in 1918, she turned her energies to Christian fundamentalism and carved out a new career as a writer of best-selling evangelical books and as a high-profile speaker on the fundamentalist preaching circuit, particularly in the United States. In this important work Tim Larsen provides the first full account of this part of Christabel Pankhurst's life. He thus offers both a highly original contribution to Christabel Pankhurst's biography and also a fascinating commentary on the relationship between fundamentalism and feminism. His book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the Pankhursts, in the history of the women's movement, or in fundamentalism in Britain and North America. TIMOTHY LARSEN is Associate Professor of Theology, Wheaton College, USA.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-042-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter One CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
    (pp. 1-28)

    On 13 October 1905 Christabel Pankhurst may or may not have spat in a policeman’s face. If, as she later insisted, no actual saliva was involved, then, in any event, she feigned this transaction with such verisimilitude as to achieve her calculated aim of being arrested for a technical assault. In high spirits, she had announced when leaving the house that day, ‘I shall sleep in prison to-night!’ Her loyal follower, Annie Kenney, had been her accomplice, and was also arrested. Thus the militant phase of the British campaign for women’s suffrage began.¹

    Pankhurst was a founding member of the...

  5. Chapter Two ESCHATOLOGY AND THEOLOGY
    (pp. 29-49)

    Evangelicalism is a movement arising out of English-speaking Protestantism in the 1730s. In Britain it was inaugurated with the revivals led by, most notably, John Wesley (1703–1791) and George Whitefield (1714–1770). Their ministries produced the Methodist movement, a cluster of churches and, eventually, denominations that were the primary expression of evangelicalism in the eighteenth century. David Bebbington has identified four characteristics of evangelicalism: conversionism (an experience of spiritual transformation that marks one’s movement from spiritual death to spiritual life, from condemned to redeemed), activism (a sacrificial commitment to evangelism, missions and good works), biblicism (an emphasis on the...

  6. Chapter Three CURRENT EVENTS
    (pp. 50-68)

    The signs of the times formed a rather elastic and expansive category. Adventist Fundamentalists, at their most excitable, were tempted to find significance and meaning in almost anything and everything happening in the world. Even Pankhurst herself could make the prophetic news rather than just report it: the Revd H. Tydeman Chilvers, the Baptist minister at Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, once remarked about her in a burst of enthusiasm, ‘Surely she herself is a “sign” for this day and generation’, although he did not bother to elucidate what biblical prophecy regarding the end times found its partial fulfilment in...

  7. Chapter Four DOOM AND HOPE
    (pp. 69-87)

    Pankhurst invariably attributed her general openness in 1918 to the message of Christ’s return to the disillusioning effect that the Great War had had on her. In 1923 she said of the war: ‘many of us believed when it began that it was the war that would end all war. How could any one have lived in that fool’s paradise?’¹ In 1926 a report summarized a portion of a speech of hers as follows: ‘The War shattered her ideals, and she found herself without a philosophy of life.’ A direct quotation from the same account has her declaring that ‘the...

  8. Chapter Five THE FUNDAMENTALIST CIRCUIT
    (pp. 88-102)

    Throughout history, new Christian groups have recurrently taken pejorative labels applied to them by outsiders and appropriated them as badges of honour: one thinks, for example, of the ‘Quakers’ and the ‘Methodists’. It has been the peculiar fate of the fundamentalists, however, to have had their own self-chosen designation transmuted by outsiders into a general term of abuse. Perhaps the closest parallel is the Jesuits, who did have to endure the passing of ‘jesuitical’ into general circulation as a pejorative adjective but, even in their case, no one ever dreamed of talking about ‘Jesuit’ Moslems, ‘Jesuit’ Sikhs or the like,...

  9. Chapter Six FUNDAMENTALISM AND FEMINISM IN SOCIETY
    (pp. 103-120)

    Of all the things that contemporary society thinks it knows about fundamentalism, perhaps the notion that it is opposed to feminism is one of the most prominent. This general impression has also been adopted by scholars. Bruce B. Lawrence, for example, in hisDefenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age, pronounces confidently when expounding the nature of historic fundamentalism in America that ‘Secondary male elites provided their leadership, extolling women as mothers and custodians of family values but never recognizing an individual woman as authoritative teacher.’¹ This is a typical assessment, but it is simply not true....

  10. Chapter Seven FUNDAMENTALISM AND FEMINISM IN THE CHURCH
    (pp. 121-138)

    As the question of women’s suffrage was settled so long ago – and apparently for henceforth and forever more – the truism that fundamentalism is opposed to women in ministry is the one that is more prominent today. A standard source to cite in order to substantiate that view is John R. Rice’sBobbed Hair,Bossy Wives,and Women Preachers(1941).¹ Rice, a separatistic Baptist, was a leading fundamentalist voice through the power of his popular journal, theSword of the Lord. One reason why this book is so often referred to by scholars is because its evocative title neatly attacked allegedly...

  11. Epilogue: FORGETTING AND REMEMBERING
    (pp. 139-142)

    Many feminists have not known what to do with Christabel Pankhurst’s religious turn. The result has been a tendency simply to ignore it. This trend began as soon as she was dead, if not even before, as can be seen in an article ‘In Memoriam’ written by ‘Mrs Kent Allen’ that was printed in theLos Angeles Timesjust two weeks after Pankhurst’s death. It is worth including the whole article in order to gain the full effect:

    Feb. 13 Dame Christabel Pankhurst, crusader in the suffragette cause, passed from our midst.

    This noble lady, who fought so valiantly for...

  12. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 143-149)
  13. Index
    (pp. 150-156)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 157-157)