- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-5046-2
- Pages: 312
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Price: £20.00
- Published Date: June 2021
- BIC Category: Humanities / Social & cultural history, History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, NATURE / Animals / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies, Animals & Society, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Modern History, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century, Hunting Or Shooting Animals & Game
- Series: Gender in History
Women against cruelty is the first book to explore women’s leading role in animal protection in nineteenth-century Britain, drawing on rich archival sources. Women founded bodies such as the Battersea Dogs’ Home, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and various groups that opposed vivisection. They energetically promoted better treatment of animals, both through practical action and through their writings, such as Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. Yet their efforts were frequently belittled by opponents, or decried as typifying female ‘sentimentality’ and hysteria. Only the development of feminism in the later Victorian period enabled women to show that spontaneous fellow-feeling with animals was a civilising force. Women’s own experience of oppressive patriarchy bonded them with animals, who equally suffered from the dominance of masculine values in society, and from an assumption that all-powerful humans were entitled to exploit animals at will.
'In her riveting and meticulously researched book, Diana Donald explores the complex relationships between women, gender and animal protection movements. She shows, with insight and compassion, what was at stake in the quest to change both attitudes towards and practices concerning animals. Weaving together accounts of women's activism, legal and political debates, controversies around vivisection and the roles of institutions, Donald is writing important and timely history about forms of empathy.'
Professor Ludmilla Jordanova, Durham University
'In a compelling and fascinating work, Diana Donald restores the words and deeds of 19th century women to the historical record—updating interpretations with a powerful and empowering narrative of the inseparability of animal advocacy, politics and gender.'
Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat and Burger
'Diana Donald’s engaging and thoroughly researched new book reveals the importance of the activities of women in the development of the animal protection movement in Britain. [...] This is an excellent book because it demonstrates the huge amount of female talent and energy that underpinned the animal protection movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is also, though, realistic about the scale of the challenge – imperialism, hunting and industrial capitalism all increased cruelty to animals in this period. These
women were battling against expanding vested interests and an entrenched gendered culture that systematically dismissed and marginalised feminine views. Donald’s work is important in showing female activists, organisations and strategies, but it also allows us to see their relationship with wider Victorian and Edwardian culture.'
Women’s History Review
'[...] Donald describes vividly the advocacy of women on behalf of animals and the gendered perceptions of kindness to animals during the Victorian era.'
Reviews in History
'[...] Donald’s work offers a more focused, detailed examination of Victorian gender politics as they manifest in debates over the status of nonhuman animals.'
Society and Animals
Prefatory note: The archive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
1 Sexual distinctions in attitudes to animals in the late Georgian era
2 The early history of the RSPCA: its culture and its conflicts
3 Animal welfare and ‘humane education’: new roles for women
4 The ‘two religions’: a gendered divide in Victorian society
5 Anti-vivisection: a feminist cause?
6 Sentiment and ‘the spirit of life’: new insights at the fin de siècle
Diana Donald, now an independent scholar, is the author of Picturing Animals in Britain 1750–1850, and co-author of the prize-winning Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts