- Purchase/rental options available:
This article directs close attention to women's riot and arson campaigns in early twentieth-century Britain. While the Second International insisted that women's rights must wait until after a larger revolution of the proletariat, certain strains of the women's movement refused this injunction to wait, instead turning to the transformation of public space and social relations in the present tense. As a way to locate precursors for the occupation of highways and airports so visible as a form of contestation in our current moment, this article formulates new reading practices to reconsider early twentieth-century women's riot campaigns through the rubric of tactics, rather than demands. These reading practices emerge as a way to wend our way through a massive but little-known archive of arrest records, police blotters, meeting schedules, tables of contents, and suffrage life writing. Across this archive, the plot of the women's revolution does not develop towards some future gain, like the vote or marriage. For N. K. Chernyshevsky, Anney Kenney, Rebecca West, and others, recursive, often repetitive plots create a "long middle" of ongoing public protest and police repression. This reconsideration of feminism's first wave offers a theory of collective direct action more widely, through a focus on the remaking of public space and social relations in the process of struggle, rather than the achievement of discrete demands.