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Pretention was key because the women knew that the men's focus stayed on preventing race mixing between blacks and whites. To distract the men from the issues that the WKKK were fighting for, they would cleverly get the men to focus on black men trying to flirt or what have you with them. This was just a ploy for them so that they could fully pursue their interests with little or no interference from the men.
Auxiliary or Organization
Clearly, the intent of the KKK was for the women to establish an auxiliary in order to support them. The women had other ideas. The men were used to further the women's cause unknowingly. "Klanswomen embraced the mixture of individualism and deference to authority that characterized the male Klan." (p. 36). The women did not and would not be a support group for the men. They did feel that other races were inferior just as the men did. They felt that other religions were inferior just as the men did. but, the men held the belief that women were subservient to men and were to be used as support persons and not equals. The men wanted the women in the home which is where the women did not want to be. They wanted to be able to vote, work outside the home, make their own money and decisions and not have children if this was their choice. The men basically viewed the women as inferior and delicate and much like children who needed protection.
It appears that even in the early stages of the WKKK, the intent was to have complete independence and autonomy. During the early 1920's this was considered very forward thinking. The women of the KKK were an integral, yet largely unknown part of the women's rights movement. Had they not stood behind many of the racists and bigoted views of the men, they would probably have garnered more attention for their role in the movement. but, in a sense they should be commended for their forward thinking. In today's time, it is easy for a woman to consider and label herself a feminist. It is now considered normal for women to delay marriage and childbirth in place of a career. It is almost expected for women to establish a career before settling down. but, this was unheard of during the WKKK's time.
In a way, the women during this time were superwomen and had no say so in how their lives would be run. This tells us a lot about men back then and in particular the men in the Ku Klux Klan. The image they portrayed of how they valued their women to the public was clearly not what the women were actually experience. The mere fact that the women wanted to break free of their environment and establish their own identities shows that all was not well on the home front. The women of the KKK very smart, clever and cunning enough to get what they wanted from this organization. They knew how to divert the men's attention enough so that they could fight for what they wanted. The WKKK was definitely an organization and not an auxiliary. An auxiliary exists to support an organization that is already established. An organization stands on its own, has its own agenda and is basically autonomous. This is what the WKKK was.
It is surprising and probably not a well-known fact that the WKKK existed. Because of the violent nature of the KKK and the reasoning behind their actions, it is assumed by many that their women were fragile and wanted and needed their protection. The KKK had this notion that others, especially minorities were inferior and they felt that their women were desired by all men. The women held similar views to the men. They too believed in their superiority, but they also believed that a woman's place was not necessarily in the home, unless that was her choice. The women of the KKK often felt like slave to their husband and used the organization to break free of the drudgery of their daily lives in order to gain some type of independence.
The men of the KKK did not like or approve of the new found independence that their women were achieving, but timing played a big role in the success of this organization. They were established during a time where women were finally allowed to vote and they also could go out and start earning their own money and become economically independent and not have to worry about taking care of a husband and children or feeling that their life had no meaning. Many of the issues that the WKKK stood for are appalling and deserve no recognition at all. But it cannot and should not be ignored that they were instrumental in securing the rights of the women within their organization…even if that organization was as dysfunctional and misguided as can be.
Blee, K.M. (2008). Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s…[continue]
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