A Transnational Perspective of Emma Goldman’s Evolution as an Anarcha-Feminist
History Research
Volume 7, Issue 1, June 2019, Pages: 7-16
Received: Jun. 21, 2019; Accepted: Jul. 18, 2019; Published: Aug. 13, 2019
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Author
John David Bies, Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy & American Studies, University of South Carolina-Upstate, Spartanburg South Carolina, USA
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Abstract
One of the foremost American anarchists of the early twentieth century was Emma Goldman who fought for the rights of working-class men and women. Upon her arrival in the US from the Lithuanian region of the Tsarist Russian Empire, she immediately became actively involved in the American Anarchist Movement. Initially she professed and involved herself in the violent overthrow of the government and its institutions and the selective assassination of exploitative leaders in industry and government. After her imprisonment, she found another avenue for her anarchical beliefs in the form of women’s issues that included freedom of choice in marriage, and control over decision-making relative to her own body – issues that resonate today. This article, then, analyses her concentrated fight for women egalitarianism that has been described as the first vestiges of Anarcha-feminism. It is argued that her evolution towards feminist causes can be explained via three “Geo-moments” that was used to illustrate how her political beliefs progressed from Russian Nihilism, to violent Anarchism, and finally to Anarcha-feminism. The three Geo-moments employed in this study were: first, her experiences as a young Nihilist under Tsarist Russian rule; second, her arrival in the United States and introduction to American Anarchism; and lastly, her medical training as a nurse at the University of Vienna that gave rise to her views of feminism. As an Anarcha-feminist, she addressed and fought for women’s rights to use birth control to decide how many children they wanted and fought against the female discriminatory aspects of the Comstock Law. In connection to her newly acquired medical education, Goldman has been identified as one of the initial supporters of the LGBT community, their issues and acceptance into society. Lastly, was her founding the founding of the periodical Mother Earth that served as a platform for her fight for female equality.
Keywords
Emma Goldman, Transnationalism, Anarcha-Feminism, Women’s Rights
To cite this article
John David Bies, A Transnational Perspective of Emma Goldman’s Evolution as an Anarcha-Feminist, History Research. Vol. 7, No. 1, 2019, pp. 7-16. doi: 10.11648/j.history.20190701.12
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Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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[2]
Emma Goldman, Living My Life, Volume One, 1931, (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1970), p. 12. Noted from this point on as LML, v. 1 or v. 2.
[3]
See: ‘The Hypocrisy of Puritanism’, ‘The Traffic in Women’, & ‘The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation’ in Anarchism and Other Essays.
[4]
The term “geo-moment” pertains to the influence or effect that geographic movements beyond the concept of state borders had on Goldman’s evolution as an anarcho-feminist.
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Jacobs did offer to release Goldman and drop all charges on their train ride to New York City if she would turn informant against other anarchists, to which she replied by throwing a glass of water in his face.
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[39]
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[40]
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[41]
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[50]
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[51]
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[52]
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[53]
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[54]
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[55]
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[56]
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[57]
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[58]
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[59]
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[60]
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