Connecting British Anti-Feminism & a Childhood in the Troubles to Write a Transnational History of Gender & Shame


*Growing up in the Troubles, where men were often absent, led me to research women policing women.


*Being a diasporic Irish historian led me to write a book that connects Irish women’s ideas and activisms to those of women across the globe.


Sharon Crozier-De Rosa reflects on her recent book launch which was supported by FRN, Center for Colonial and Settler Studies & Center for Critical Human Rights Research UOW.

In March 2018 my book, Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash: Britain, Ireland and Australia, 1890-1920 (2018, Routledge), was launched by visiting academic to the University of Wollongong, Associate Professor Jane Haggis (Flinders University).

Book launch 2



Associate Professor Haggis delivered a wonderfully generous appraisal of the book, emphasising its transnational methods and scope. The book, she said, ambitiously connected the histories of women in sites that did not, at first, appear to fit together – through the application of an emotions history framework. In making those comments, she also remarked on her discomfort with the concept of women using shame in a productive capacity – to police their own emotional and political communities.


In my brief response, I reflected on what motivated me to study the connections and the disparities between patriotic women’s uses of an emotion that is often viewed – and felt – with discomfort across very different sites along the British imperial spectrum. In doing so I connected two seemingly unconnected processes – my doctoral research on British anti-feminism and my upbringing during the Troubles in Ireland.

Book launch 1



First, Marie Corelli.


As I read through her works to complete my PhD on bestselling fiction and a history of women’s emotions, I could not help but be disturbed by the glaring anti-feminist sentiment infusing the novels of one extraordinarily successful woman writer that I was looking at – Marie Corelli.




From the 1880s to the 1910s, Corelli reigned as ‘Queen of the Bestsellers’, far outselling any fellow authors of her day. How did she approach feminism? On the one hand, she poked fun at the ridiculous appearance and habits of so-called New Women who aped the habits of men – bicycle riding, swearing, smoking, atheistic, loose sexual attitudes, like the comically manly Honoria Maggs in  My Wonderful Wife (c.1886). On the other hand, Corelli’s treatment of women’s feminist aspirations revealed a much deeper, darker undercurrent of feminist hatred, or sometimes even a general hatred of women.


It cast light on a world where feminist shaming was an accepted and well-practised custom.

  • There was a war against women, she said, but women were totally to blame for that.
  • These women, she argued, were responsible for lowering the reputation of England which used to be the civiliser of the world.


The latent vitriol in Corelli’s writing surprised me. Here was a woman who was an independent and extraordinarily successful female writer who, by all accounts, was also an incredibly astute businesswoman. Her public life did not seem at odds with the demands of turn-of-the-century feminism.


More puzzling for me was the fact that a large proportion of her readers were women.

  • Why were these 5-600 page novels, which were filled with blatant feminist hatred and feminist shaming – albeit while indulging in feminist transgressions – so attractive to her vast army of women readers?
  • Why was womenshamingwomen such a regular and familiar feature of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century popular culture?


Women Shaming Women

In investigating a practice that I was uncomfortable with, I was mindful of a 1970s historian’s caution to not disrespect the views of those who lost – those fighting against the vote – of not consigning them to history’s ‘rubbish heap’.


When I looked closer at women shaming women, I saw some of the nuances of their practices – here were women policing their own political communities in what was a highly patriarchal world.


Some picked up weapons to fight for their political views.


Suddenly it was all very familiar.


The Troubles

Growing up on a housing estate during the Troubles, where men were often absent – in prison or on the run – I was continually confronted with strong women policing their own communities of womanhood in what was a highly patriarchal society.


Some of these were women who picked up guns to fight for their political views. They were a visible presence as they marched in political parades, armed, uniformed.


Here were women’s practices aligning in what were two remarkably different societies:

  • One an immensely powerful imperial centre in the early twentieth century.
  • The other a fractured, disenfranchised anti-colonial site in the late twentieth century.

Yet both housed communities of womanhood – policing themselves using emotional tools and tactics – picking up arms in defence of their politics if need be.


That led to Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash, Britain, Ireland and Australia –

  • An historical investigation of the reasons for women opposing feminism,

…and, more poignantly for me –

  • A transnational history of women policing women using emotions – where I was able to connect the ideas and activisms of diverse groups of patriotic women across the globe.


Today: Anti-Feminism? Woman Hatred? Shaming?

Surely the voting in of a highly misogynistic man as US President and the backlash that process unleashed tells us that anti-feminism, woman hate and feminist shaming are not obsolete issues.


Philosopher Michael Morgan says that, today, most people think it is a shame that shame exists. Yet, if we look at that election, women, feminists included, shamed Hillary Clinton –  and each other – across the globe – for everything from feminism to anti-feminism and everything else in between. In a highly patriarchal world, women policing their own political communities using emotions like shame is not dead – it is just a practice rooted in history.

Shame Book Cover


I dedicate this book to my mum and dad for the role they played in helping me get to this point where I can use our collective experiences – of conflict and of mobility – to teach and write about the intersections between gender, nationalism, emotions and violence, nationally and transnationally.

Originally published on 

Jane Haggis Seminar and Launch of ‘Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash’

FRN, CASS and CCHR invite you to the following:


Date: Monday 19 March 2018
Seminar: 3.00pm to 4.30pm, Book Launch: 4.30pm to 5.30pm
Location: Panizzi Room, UOW Library

RSVP: Seminar and/or Book Launch – Thursday 15 March:

Associate Professor Jane Haggis: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University

What Was the Steward Up to? Indian Women Touring Europe in the 1930s: Vernaculars of Friendship, Cosmopolitanisms and Anti-Colonialisms at the End of Empire  

Jane Haggis is an historian who combines historical analysis with social and cultural theory. Her research interests are wide, but cluster around three themes: cross-cultural encounters, affect and power in imperial and post-imperial contexts. She has published widely internationally in feminist historiography and gender and empire, and is currently leading an Australian Research Council funded project [DP 170104310 2017-2019), ‘Beyond Empire transnational religious networks & liberal cosmopolitanisms’ with Professor Margaret Allen, Professor Fiona Paisley and Professor Clare Midgley. With these scholars she recently published, Cosmopolitan Lives on the Cusp of Empire: Interfaith, Cross-Cultural and Transnational Networks, 1860-1950, Palgrave Pivot, 2017. Her long engagement with critical race studies most recently saw the publication of “Situated Knowledge or Ego (His)toire?: Memory, History and the She-Migrant in an Imaginary of ‘Terra Nullius’” Ngapartji, Ngapartji. In turn, in turn: Ego-Histoire, Europe and Indigenous Australians (ANU Lives Series in Biography, 2014). It also led to an Australian Research Council funded project (with S Schech) From Stranger to Citizen: Migration, Modernisation and Racialisation in the Making of the New Australian” (DP 0665782) results from which she most recently published in “White Australia and Otherness: The Limits to Hospitality” in Cultures in Refuge: Seeking Sanctuary in Modern Australia (2012). She is currently working on a monograph from that project, provisionally titled: Storying the borderlands: imaginaries of modernity and the refugee in Australia. The book (with S Schech) Culture and Development, (2000), pioneered a postcolonial feminist analysis of International Development and remains a seminal text.

Associate Professor Haggis will then launch:

Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash, Britain, Ireland and Australia, 1890-1920 (Routledge 2018)

Dr Sharon Crozier-De Rosa

Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash examines how women opposed to the feminist campaign for the vote in early twentieth-century Britain, Ireland, and Australia used shame as a political tool. It demonstrates just how proficient women were in employing a diverse vocabulary of emotions – drawing on concepts like embarrassment, humiliation, honour, courage, and chivalry – in the attempt to achieve their political goals. It looks at how far nationalist contexts informed each gendered emotional community at a time when British imperial networks were under extreme duress. The book presents a unique history of gender and shame which demonstrates just how versatile and ever-present this social emotion was in the feminist politics of the British Empire in the early decades of the twentieth century. It employs a fascinating new thematic lens to histories of anti-feminist/feminist entanglements by tracing national and transnational uses of emotions by women to police their own political communities. It also challenges the common notion that shame had little place in a modernizing world by revealing how far groups of patriotic womanhood, globally, deployed shame to combat the effects of feminist activism.

FRN Work-in-Progress and Writing Retreat Days

In February, FRN held its Work-in-Progress Day, followed by a two day Writing Retreat at the Innovation Campus. The three day event was organised by Vicki Crinis, assisted by FRN Convenors, Sharon Crozier-De Rosa and Di Kelly. Invited respondent and mentor, Prof. Louise D’Arcens (Macquarie University) demonstrated her intellectual versatility as she offered superb individual advice on the nine presentations on topics as varied as ‘Global IVF’, ‘Shame and Divorce’, ‘Queer Family’, ‘Bisexual Invisibility’, ‘Selling Hatred and Happiness’, ‘Asia Australia Television Viewership’, ‘Sexual Violence’, and ‘Trafficking and the Age of Consent’. Prof D’Arcens stayed on to offer writing advice at FRN’s annual Writing Retreat beginning the following day. Perhaps twenty of us kick-started or continued our 2018 writing plans in the quiet, scholarly, collegial and uninterrupted environment that the the FRN Retreat provided. Thank you to Vicki for organising, Louise for mentoring, and all others for presenting, participating as audience members, and for contributing to a rich, feminist-inspired intellectual environment.



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Clementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven @ FRN!

Clementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven are coming to the University of Wollongong as part of the 2017 Feminist Research Network (FRN) Symposium – ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts’!

These passionate activists will also be appearing at a public event for Wollongong Writers Festival as part of a residency series funded by UOW.

UOW Event: ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts’, Monday 25th September, 5-7pm, UOW, Bld 20.4.              

 [UOW Staff & Students FREE but REGISTER for catering here by 22 Sept: RSVP]

 The Wollongong Writers Festival is also holding a Festival event featuring Celementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven on Tuesday 26th September, from 6-7.30pm

Festival Event: ‘Writing and Living as a Political Act’, Featuring: Winnie Dunn with Clementine Ford & Ellen van Neerven, Tuesday 26th September, 6-7.30pm, Wollongong Art Gallery, 46 Burelli St.           

 [COST $25: Bookings:]

Report [November 2016] – ‘Gender & Colonialism’ Panel

Report – FRN-sponsored ‘Gender & Colonialism: New Directions’ Panel at the Colonial Formations Conference organised by UOW’s Colonial and Settler Studies Network (CASS)


In collaboration with CASS, FRN sponsored a panel at the recent Colonial Formations international conference. Over 100 people registered to attend the conference. The panel was designed to showcase some of the newest research being carried out by scholars in the field of gender history and colonialism.


Assoc. Prof. Jane Haggis acted as Chair for the panel. Her insights were particularly astute given her vast experience and renown as a scholar of gender and colonialism. She was particularly keen to point out that the papers in the panel were connected by their varied ways of demonstrating how colonised subjects, even though they attempted to open up spaces in which to express their reaction to the colonising process, were restricted by the boundaries imposed on them by the colonisers – many of those restrictions being gendered.


Assoc. Prof. Liz Conor concluded what was a stimulating panel by delivering an impassioned and rigorous critique of the racist depictions of Aboriginal women by the Australian cartoonist, Eric Jolliffe.


Liz is an ARC Future Fellow at La Trobe University. She is the author of Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women [UWAP, 2016] and The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s [Indiana University Press, 2004]. She is the editor of Aboriginal History, a columnist at New Matilda, and has published widely in academic and mainstream press on gender, race and representation.


Her paper, ‘The Comic Misadventures of Eric Jolliffe’s Witchetty’s Tribe’, was inspired by the fact that, in 1980, cartoonist Eric Jolliffe was the subject of a Federal Anti-Discrimination Board case over a cartoon published in the Permanent Building Association’s monthly magazine, Corroboree. The cartoon depicted a voluptuous young woman wearing only a bra on her bottom and was captioned ‘It’s a white man’s garment she got from the missionary’s wife’. Jolliffe’s ‘mates’ had jumped to his defense, including A.P Elkin and Ted Egan, but Jolliffe stopped drawing his Witchetty’s Tribe characters. Jolliffe’s Aboriginal characters were interspersed with portraits, and anecdotally they were enjoyed by Aboriginal and well as white readers in the Northern Territory. Jolliffe claimed to have a photo of an Aboriginal audience at an Aboriginal Olympic Games in Arnhem Land admiring and enjoying the same cartoon within an exhibition of his Saltbush Bill and Witchetty’s Tribe cartoons. He had imagined his ‘very accurate’ depictions of tribal living countered the denigrating cartoons of drunken ragged fringe-dwellers that featured in the interwar magazines he drew for including The Bulletin, Smith’s Weekly, Pix and The Sun. While his humor worked from the incongruity of traditionally-living people mouthing white domestic platitudes about fashion, parenting and even anthropology it 14 sometimes pilloried the later rather than the former. This paper will situate Jolliffe’s cartoons in the assimilation era and argue the romanticism Jolliffe attached to the ‘tribal hunter’ and his revival of the ‘Native Belle’ and ‘Piccaninny’ types expressed settler ambivalence about the loss of a particularly masculine ‘outback’ circulating print culture postwar. Within this bush nostalgia ‘tribal’ Indigenous Australians were cast as emblematic of an outback authenticity which in this instance came to clash with the cultural activism of Aboriginal activists demanding self-determination. [Liz’s conference abstract.]


Gender & Colonialism: New Directions

[UOW Feminist Research Network sponsored panel]

Chair: Jane Haggis

Sharon Crozier-De Rosa: The Anti-Colonial Irish Women: Constructing a feminist ethics of violence

Sibyl Adam: Colonial Affects: Emotion and Space in Indian Women’s Travel Writing about Edwardian London

Jessica Hinchy: Gender, sexuality and province-centric colonial governance in north India

Liz Conor: The Comic Misadventures of Eric Jolliffe’s Witchetty’s Tribe


Sharon Crozier-De Rosa

Report [October 2016] – ‘Decolonizing Gender’

On 4 October Professor Emerita Raewyn Connell gave a wonderful  FRN seminar, ‘Decolonizing Gender: Settler Colonialism & Gender History’.


It was a topic close to many researchers’ interests and was made more lively by Raewyn’s use of scholars and activists to highlight the arguments.  Her discussion of the coloniality of knowledge showed that Western knowledge has long been imperial knowledge.  Thus the foundations of knowledge-getting reinforce colonial knowledge formation and are reproduced via the  fundamental bases of theory, method, and intellectual authority.   This has happened not just in colonial powers but also in colonised societies.  In turn, power inequalities are strengthened and enhanced.   In the modern globalised world, such inequalities are further embedded in the expansion of  transnational capitalism and neoliberal hegemony.


The seminar  was attended by 20+ academics from LHA, Business and Social Science, as well as a good number of HDR students.  Raewyn was very generous with her time and spent nearly two hours talking to staff and students.


More can be found about Raewyn on @raewynconnell AND


The references for the seminar were:

RWC 2015 Meeting at the Edge of Fear: Theory on a World Scale, Feminist Theory, 16, 1, pp.49-66

RWC 2014 Rethinking Gender from the South, Feminist Studies, 40, 3, pp. 518-539

RWC 2-14 Margin becoming Centre: for a world-centred rethinking of masculinities, NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 9, 4, pp. 217-231


Di Kelly

Report – ‘Pitching Feminism without Compromising Feminism’ Workshop

Report [October 2016] – ‘Pitching Feminism without Compromising Feminism: A Workshop on Writing for the Media as a Feminist Academic’
Led by Dr Michelle Smith (Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellow, Deakin University)


On 19th October, the Feminist Research Network hosted ‘Pitching Feminism without Compromising Feminism: A Workshop on Writing for the Media as a Feminist Academic’.


The workshop was informative and interactive as participants worked through how they would pitch their ideas to various media for feminist-inspired opinion pieces. This involved, for example, workshopping the titles they would use to draw in a wide and not necessarily feminist readership – all the while not abandoning or compromising their academic or feminist credentials. It was a fun and creative, yet intellectually challenging and productive process!


The writing workshop was inspired by the idea that feminist discourse has been increasingly visible in the media. Popular feminist writers like Clementine Ford, Celeste Liddle, Laurie Penny, and Lindy West are well known for their contributions to major newspapers, radio and television interviews, as well as their own books. Yet, this proliferation of feminist media prompts the question: What role can feminist academics play in this expanded—and yet often extremely hostile— space for feminist writing for the general public?


The workshop was led by Deakin University academic and feminist columnist for The Conversation, Dr Michelle Smith. Michelle shared her experiences of writing opinion pieces for a range of publications from major daily newspapers, such as The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, to online sites such as The Guardian and The Drum.


Michelle was incredibly generous as she spent the first part of the workshop sharing with participants how she came to be such a prolific writer outside the usual sphere of academic publishing. She also talked about some of the challenges involved in choosing to write for the media, such as finding the time to write while fulfilling the requirements of an academic position and reacting to public feedback, including what are, unfortunately frequent, occurrences of anti-feminist backlash.


The second and more substantial part of the workshop involved participants working together to produce pitches for their articles. We worked on how to produce pitches that would lead to articles that were “print-worthy” and shareable but still robustly feminist and informed by our shared background as trained academics.


We also worked on something that made many of us understandably uncomfortable, namely, how to abandon footnotes and complex theory, but to instead seize the opportunity to convey unfamiliar ideas to a wide audience!


Feedback from the session was great! I, for one, was inspired to pitch an article on the upcoming US elections to the Conversation. My pitch was accepted and my piece – ‘What’s gender solidarity got to do with it? Woman shaming and Hillary Clinton’ – was published in The Conversation on 8 November 2016:


As Michelle had outlined, feminist academics have the opportunity of disseminating feminist-inspired research well beyond the confines of academia. And, one of the really positive aspects of this pathway is that this research tends to reach audiences that are much larger and more varied than the usual audiences of scholarly articles or book chapters. Within the space of one day, for example, my Hillary Clinton piece – which expanded on my research into the history of gendered forms of shame and shaming – was accessed by nearly 5000 readers. I would hazard a guess that this is a far greater number of readers than my usual scholarly articles achieve!


Sharon Crozier-De Rosa
NB: Dr Michelle Smith is an academic at Deakin University, feminist columnist for The Conversation and contributor on feminism, literature and popular culture for a variety of media outlets including The Age, Washington Post, New Statesman, The Drum, and Some of her 2016 Conversation articles include: ‘‘Not fit to be president’: Hillary Clinton and our problem with older women’; ‘From scolds to “talking underwater”: Policing women’s voices’; ‘Meg Ryan’s face and the historical battleground of ageing’; ‘Friday essay: the ugly history of cosmetic surgery’; ‘No, you’re not ‘hardwired’ to stare at women’s breasts’; and, ‘Witches both mad and bad: a loaded word with an ugly history’. See​

Report – ‘Reading the Colonial Girl’

Report [October 2016] – ‘Reading the Colonial Girl: The Transnational Feminine Ideal in Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Print Culture, 1840-1940’


Presented by Dr Michelle Smith (Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellow, Deakin University)


The ‘Reading the Colonial Girl’ seminar was hosted jointly by the Feminist Research Network and the Colonial and Settler Studies Network and was well-attended by staff from Schools across the Faculty.


After leading a fabulous workshop on pitching feminism for the media without compromising academic or feminist integrity, Michelle Smith resorted to a more traditional form of disseminating academic research when she presented a fascinating paper that was drawn from her ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship – ‘From Colonial to Modern: Transnational Girlhood in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Print Cultures, 1840-1940’ – that she undertook with Prof. Clare Bradford and Dr Kristine Moruzi.


Michelle argued that the most insightful way to understand what kind of beliefs a culture holds about its women is to examine the expectations and ideals it professes for the next generation. Girls, she asserted, are a locus for a culture’s hopes and fears for the future. There is significant literature on constructing the 19th century English girl. However, as Michelle outlined, there is not a lot of scholarship existing on how this model of femininity was circulated to girl readers around the British Empire.


She used the talk to conclude that a transnational girl subject emerged from white settler colonies like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that demonstrated their imperial connections to England, while also redefining them. In effect, an imagined community’ of empire girlhood emerged from girls’ print culture.


However, Michelle also used the seminar to look at the ways in which race complicated literary attempts to fashion transnational and national femininities by analysing Aboriginal, Maori, and First Nations femininities that were often problematically incorporated into girls’ print culture. She explored how indigenous femininities were categorised differently from those of non-indigenous girls in fiction.


In what was a jam-packed one day visit to UOW, Michelle managed to provide fascinating insights into feminist research via traditional and non-traditional platforms!


Sharon Crozier-De Rosa


NB: Dr Michelle Smith is an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellow, Deakin University (‘Beautiful Girls: Consumer Culture in British Literature and Magazines, 1850-1914’). In 2013, she completed an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship (‘From Colonial to Modern: Transnational Girlhood in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Print Cultures, 1840-1940’ with Prof. Clare Bradford and Dr Kristine Moruzi). She has published: Empire in British Girls’ Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880-1915 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) (winner of 2012 European Society for the Study of English’s Book Award); with Kristine Moruzi, she is editor of Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950 (2014) and a six-volume anthology of girls’ school stories for Routledge’s ‘History of Feminism’ series, Girls’ School Stories, 1749-1929 (2013). She has written articles about topics including feminism, literature and popular culture for The Age, Washington Post, New Statesman, The Drum, and and is the literature columnist for The Conversation. She maintains a blog at: