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War: The Ultimate Male Privilege

women of britainA collection of British war propaganda posters is going up for sale, and in doing research for this piece about them, I uncovered an unsettling story about how during the Great War feminists and suffragettes sent men off to die by shaming them into enlistment. How did they shame them? With a simple white feather.

An archive of nearly every First World War recruitment poster ever has emerged for sale after it was discovered hidden in an attic. The collection includes almost 200 posters that were created between 1914 and 1916 to encourage British men to go and die in the Great War.

The Daily Mail writes: “The posters have an increasingly menacing tone in the months before compulsory conscription was introduced in 1916 after Britain had suffered so many losses on the Western Front.”

The collection is the property of Arthur Maxted, who inherited them from his grandfather who worked for a printing company during the war. The collection is being sold at auction for around $33,000.

The posters not only depict a desperate nation’s malice in preparing to conscript their young men into one of the most useless wars in human history, but the willingness of feminist activists at the time to take part in shaming men in order to get them to submit to slaughter for their own empowerment.

In 1914, British feminists and suffragettes conspired together in the Order of the White Feather to shame men into going off to be killed.

The White Feather traditionally has been a symbol of cowardice in the U.K. since the 18th century. In 1914 Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order with Mrs. Humphrey Ward in order to shame men by persuading women to give them a white feather if they were seen without a uniform. They also lobbied for the draft, demanding men be conscripted even if they lacked votes due to being too young or not owning property.

posterThe group was so effective that the Home Secretary Office began to issue lapel badges to public service employees reading “King and Country” in order to prevent them from being shamed in public and indicate they served the war effort.

The Silver War Badge was distributed to service personnel who had been honorably discharged to prevent war veterans out of uniform from being shamed by women. The campaign was very unpopular with men at the time due to fathers who stayed home with their children being constantly mistakenly shamed by the Order.

One day a Private named Ernest Atkins was on leave and when he was given a feather by a girl sitting behind him on a tram. He smacked her across the face with his book saying: “I’m in civvies because people think my uniform might be lousy, but if I had it on I wouldn’t be half as lousy as you.”

Another serving soldier named Compton McKenzie wrote that  “idiotic young women were using white feathers to get rid of boyfriends of whom they were tired.” And one young man, a pacifist named Fenner Brockway reportedly received so many white feathers that he could make a fan.

After the war, feminist author Virginia Woolf whitewashed the group, claiming that there were only 50 or 60 white feathers handed out, but this was a lie.

One woman from the similarly themed Active Service League named Ethel M. wrote a letter to a man which read “If you are not in khaki by the 20th I shall cut you dead.” The League of 20,000 women voiced contempt for any man who was not in the active service. Many of them were suffraggettes, but still many were likely acting out of the sense of empowerment they received from participating in the war effort in such a way. Their girl power they received from campaigning for voting rights they realized could now be used as a weapon against men.

The first season of the popular show Downton Abbey prominently featured the movement of the White Feather. Two characters, William Mason and Moseley are presented with feathers, as women express their disgust at them for not serving, even though they were exempt.

One young soldier named Fred Broome was sent home after the military learned from his father that he was only 15. While walking home one day he was accosted by four girls with feathers who laughed at his explanation for why he was home instead of fighting. “I felt humiliated” he said. But he still went back to the recruitment office and rejoined, lying again about his age to join up due to the shame. As the Daily Mail described them: “Then, as now, they often hunted in packs and can have given little thought to the deadly consequences.”

A wounded soldier recalled being on a bus and receiving a white feather from a woman who gave it to him saying: “because you’re a coward.” He then reportedly showed her his damaged leg and asked her to go looking for the missing part, “lying on the battlefield somewhere.”

One young woman remembers her father, Robert Smith, being given a feather on his way home from work: “That night he came home and cried his heart out. My father was no coward, but had been reluctant to leave his family. He was thirty-four and my mother, who had two young children, had been suffering from a serious illness. Soon after this incident my father joined the army.”

Girls with white feathers thought they were being patriotic, but they had no idea what their actions were leading to. They were blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy of claiming men were cowards for staying at home, while they did the same. They were allowed to live, while they took pleasure in humiliating men before sending them off to die.

That isn’t patriotism. It’s sadism.

About The Author

Austin Petersen

Austin Petersen is the founder of The Libertarian Republic, as well as the CEO of Stonegait LLC. Formerly an Associate Producer for Judge Andrew Napolitano's show "Freedom Watch", on the Fox Business Network. Austin was referred to by the Judge as "The right side of my brain". He built Judge Napolitano's social networks with over 700,000 fans and millions of clicks a month. Austin graduated from Missouri State University. He has written and produced award winning plays and videos, and previously worked for the Libertarian National Committee and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

  • Seamus Cameron

    Traditionally the lives of men have been held cheap by those not required to shed their own blood.

    • Teerexness

      Men have always been, and still are, the expendable ones. I have two young sons, and that’s why I think the MGTOW movement is so important. If I’ve taught them anything, they will not give up their lives or their liberty to the state or a woman.

      • MGTOW 4Ever

        That’s right brother enough of the Traditionalist Coolaid.

    • CIWebMarketing


  • David Michael

    Different age, different gender rules. It was obviously a game played by women who had no other outlet to display their “patriotism.” And people in public weren’t happy about having to sit next to uniformed enlisted men in enclosed spaces like a train, because their wool uniforms really were “lousy”, as in infested with lice. Officers were expected to be in uniform in public, but often had tailor made uniforms of cotton, and they weren’t exposed to the unsanitary camp conditions that enlisted men were.

  • David Michael

    Maybe if men weren’t now expected to be feminists with penises, the world would be a better place.

  • MovieBuff

    War is great for feminism. More war = more dead men = more power to feminists. Evil creatures!

  • James Crooke

    They did this to gain power and they did so by turning the elections completely around. My grandfather died before he was 60 because of WWI because he had been gassed.

  • coquelicot

    but… but… the patriarchy!!!!111

  • Mr.Correcto

    No surprise here.

  • AUMOM92

    Then, as now, brainless and perhaps heartless young women were easily manipulated by the powers that be to carry out whatever propaganda was deemed necessary to further the cause.

  • gabriel314

    Pure evil, heartless women, sadism on their parts–all true. However, it’s also true that the men who succumbed to it are spineless and brainless.

    • Teerexness

      Most of the men were very young. Young men are very susceptible to female manipulation and women can be incredibly manipulative. While I agree with your assessment of the actions of these women, I don’t think cracking on teenagers who were also being portrayed as cowards by the state is appropriate. It seems a bit heartless.

      • Sherri Lucas-Gibson

        How old do you think the “women” were? This is a time we were not personally in, but are looking back through a foggy lens. In todays world politics are slimy, do you think it was any less so back then? There was less education meaning an easier populace to control. You have to remember those people were raised on honour, a great brainwashing technique. In some ways you can see it in action even in todays politics. The single mindedness that is.. No honour left.

        • Teerexness

          I don’t think it was really “honor.” That seems like a convenient way of spinning it so that their motives were ultimately selfish for going off to war. it’s the manipulation of natural male behaviors like chivalry and making themselves expendable for damsels in distress that was really at play in my opinion. In spite of the post-feminist myth of widespread patriarchal oppression, men have throughout the ages fought and died to protect women. And the manipulative use and abuse of these natural male behaviors can currently be seen in the Nigerian kidnapped girls story. The story you DON’T hear about, is that boys have been murdered by the hundreds, prior to the (IMO) phony kidnapped girls narrative. But murdered boys does not sufficiently inspire the outcome the financial elite (who control both the government and the mainstream media) hope for. And as far as education, I think people were far more literate and well read in the past than they are now. No TV, lots of real life experiences, lots of reading. But unfortunately, the same group of snakes had control of the media back then, only with no alternative like the internet for finding the truth.

  • firechild

    Wow no offense but maybe you ought to dig deeper before you get thrown off that high horse of yours.

    Yes there probably was a movement within women’s groups to try and convince young men to sign up- but where did that movement start? Within the war offices of the British Government, which at the time if I’m not mistaken, was run completely by men. If anything this article should be about men USING women to shame men into fighting.

    But instead because of the whole “anti-feminist agenda” the author here has decided that it was the independent plot of some heartless group of women who just wanted to see men dead.

    Seriously? How would that benefit anyone? Remember this was World War One- women still had very little legal and political rights at the time and most were highly dependent on their male counterparts, especially among the lower classes. Why then would they WANT their men to die?

    Yes the lives of men were lost in World War One, but women didn’t just sit by, rubbing their hands and cackling in glee at this. World War I mobilized women in unprecedented numbers on all sides. The vast majority of them were drafted into the civilian work force to replace conscripted men or work in greatly expanded munitions factories. Thousands served in the military in support roles, e.g. as nurses, but in Russia some saw combat as well.

    By manipulating your research to suit some modern attack on hard core feminists, you belittle everyone who was involved in World War One and clearly show yourself to be a piss poor researcher and a heavily biased writer.

    • Yaka

      Aren’t the today’s feminists any different from that? Have their anti-male stance has changed?

      • what anti male stance? You are deluded if you think feminists are anti-male.

        • Yaka

          LOL you tell me it’s otherwise.

          • It is otherwise

          • Yaka

            Activities of most feminists show it’s NOT otherwise.
            (protest in university of Toronto anyone?)
            I can give you lengths of details, references of their shaming, silencing and censorship tactics whenever male issues are taken up, but I think there is no point of debating with a person whose mind is so engraved with this ideology.

          • Lol I go to university of Toronto and that group is ONE fringe group and they protest the men’s group who is just as bad. So perhaps before you act like you know what you are talking about you can realize that your information is through a bias lens and very minimal.

            I love how you assume I’m the closed minded one here, and then dismiss me in a closed minded way.

          • MGTOW 4Ever

            The men’s rights group you Mean CAFE. That fights for equality.. Yeah that fringe group. Oh brother. Then the university charging security fees against it because the Femitards started to assault people that attended the meeting. Oh then go to assaulting Police officers. Plenty of video’s on youtube of the incident.

            You are nothing more then a Troll Mangina/White Knight or another Femitard. Your own student Union fought against FREE SPEECH. Please point to any evidence that CAFE had actually uttered that what they were talking about was hateful.

          • Lol my rspinse to you seems to have been deleted. Lol typical.

        • MGTOW 4Ever

          Well I don’t see women fighting for Selective Service.

          • Have you even looked into this subject?

            in 1980 President Jimmy Carter urged Congress to enact Military Selective Service with a broadening to include women. Awesome, right? Unfortunately for him, and men everywhere, the Congress decided, meh, to hell with what the President wants, and enacted Selective Service on the grounds it had previously held, as male-only registration.
            A group of attorneys actually challenged this ruling on the grounds of gender discrimination. And guess who provided aid to the attorneys during the course of this appeal to the Supreme Court? The American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project. Again, those damn women, always doing shit to avoid the draft, right?

          • MGTOW 4Ever

            I am quite aware of who fought against selective service. When they were changing laws to be gender neutral it was women that fought the hardest against it. This predates Carter. The point is that Feminists aren’t fighting for or against it because feminists want all male “privileges” but not the obligations.

          • Provide evidence for your claims. Show where women fought hardest against an equal draft. If anything they fought hardest against the draft in general.

            And let’s look at reality. How often has there been a draft. How threatened are you and Iof being drafted? Not very. Its like saying becuaese women and children get life boats first that men should get paid more at work. Its completely uneven. But yes those evil scary women are out to get you.

          • MGTOW 4Ever

            Selective service is not just about “military” men can be pressed into service by civilian authorities as well. Actually the Draft happened on more then one occasion. I am not getting into this bs argument with a Femitard about it. Men are required but women are not. Women are not trying to change that either. In fact NCFM actually sued for discrimination I don’t see Womens privilege groups doing the same. The consequence of NOT signing up for the service alone are great. No Student Fincancial Aid, Citizenship, Federal Job Training, Federal Jobs. So if I don’t sign up for this I can loose yet women aren’t held to the same standard.

            Again you are a Femitard or Mangina/White Knight. I am not going to argue with a colostomy bag such as you because I am wasting my time trying to educate the mentally handicapped. #ignore.

          • #adhominem #fail

          • MGTOW 4Ever

            #Femitard, #Mangina #Fail

          • gabriel314

            Nobody should be fighting for that, we should all fight against it.

    • Teerexness

      So you don’t think that these women could have made a choice based on decency with their well calibrated moral compasses? Instead of VOLUNTARILY shaming young, impressionable men into going off to play the financial elite’s deadly chess game? Were they forced to do this at gun point? Can we look forward to another century before women are held responsible for their actions? I love the cultural Marxism of someone like Christabel Pankhurst efforts as a brave suffragette, getting her in history books and even statues, while most of the men she and her sisters were handing feathers to were old enough to die, but couldn’t vote. If she were a man doing this to women, history would have portrayed “him” as a vampire. This situation does shine a light on how manipulative women can be, and how susceptible to that manipulation men, especially young ones, can be. This isn’t something to be proud of and doing the work of evil on behalf of the state, also gets no pass with me. They weren’t acted upon. They were actors.

      • gabriel314

        The one pulling the trigger is the one responsible for their actions–manipulators will never go away, nor will they stop doing what they do. Unless you’re willing to admit that men are weak-willed and easily manipulated by potential “tang,” and/or gov’t mind games.

        Continually make excuses for those who enlist and things will not change.

        • Teerexness

          I think there is a fundamental difference between 18-20 year olds enlisting in the voluntary military during a relatively peaceful time and the fomenting of patriotic, jingoistic fervor by firing guilt bombs from vagina packing weapons at 14-15 year old boys during the deadliest conflict in human history. I certainly don’t approve of either one, but the latter is much worse in my mind. And another “excuse” I guess I would make for those “Great War” era boys is that they did not have the internet, and I would imagine that the truth of the situation was pretty hard to come by. However I do fully agree with you on the larger issue that the sooner we stop supplying the state with canon fodder, the better. Unfortunately with technologies like drones, the predatory class probably won’t need boots on the ground in the future anyway though.

          • gabriel314

            ” However I do fully agree with you on the larger issue that the sooner we stop supplying the state with canon fodder, the better.”

            Well, we agree on a very important part of this argument anyways. But I’m still going to have to stick to my guns and place the blame on the individual who caves–and that goes for women too, since they are inching ever closer to the combat line and will likely be a part of the drone program. I’ll bet that we see a big influx of young, desperate Asian immigrants who are notoriously good at video games–which easily translates to being adept at piloting a drone.

            Ultimately, these people have to live with themselves and what they’ve done–and we have to finance it, unless there’s a serious sea change.

          • Teerexness

            I believe the change is coming.

    • SnakeEyez

      God forbid we hold those women responsible for making the conscious choice to do so. I forgot holding women accountable is not PC in this day and age.

  • Vickstir

    did nobody notice that this was cooked up by an admiral first? I’d be willing to bet that if one could research it, this tactic was talked about ‘down at the office’ first as to how to get more men to sign up. Useless/sad war & waste of lives, definitely yes. But don’t blame the women because of a misguided campaign fostered on all by the military.

    • rufus_t

      There’s a slight measure of difference between an admiral who had been retired for almost a decade (and also don’t forget that at the time that he actually served (1854-1905) he was serving in the fleet of what amounted to a naval hyperpower who no-one would pick a casual fight with and expect to survive) who hadn’t been on the receiving end of anything more dangerous than a harshly worded letter in nearly six decades, recruiting thirty women in one port town, and what amounted to a nationwide campaign to shame any male not in a uniform (regardless of whether or not they’d been turned down by the army medics on trying to volunteer, were too young to actually enlist, had enlisted and were home on leave, or had served and been discharged on medical grounds) into volunteering for a war that finished up with 2/7 of those that served coming back physically damaged in one way or another and 1/7 of those who served coming back in a box, or not at all.
      Yes, the idea was thought up by someone who was military, but they weren’t the ones who really ran with it, to the heinous extent that one serviceman was given a white feather while on his way to a civic reception in his honour, following his receipt of the Victoria Cross following his actions during the V Beach landings during the Gallipoli campaign.

      • Vickstir

        So is it the assumption that if the White Feather Movement hadn’t been cooked up/ran with, there would’ve been a shorter war? I doubt it. Propaganda exists solely for the reason of getting people behind some thing otherwise they might not have supported. It was a sad era- for both sexes and Britain and Europe (and the US for getting involved). Both men and women throughout history have fallen prey to ‘group thought’/mass hysteria in various ways sadly (look at the German population’s support of Hitler). I’m sure there were some women that wanted to get rid of their boyfriends or husbands, but it’s doubtful at the end of the day it was felt that way on a massive scale. Who owned and were running those printing presses shooting out those posters? Mass hysteria possibly, yes, due to the propaganda put out by the government to recruit male bodies as fodder. Just as there had been mass propaganda that women were the lesser of the sexes. It’s very effective to divide & conquer to get people to do what the powers-that-be want, and the government/military sure managed that handily.

        • ronp12

          So the assumption is that the White Feather Movement was a twisted manipulation.

  • Sherri Lucas-Gibson

    So what is this article here for? Does libertarian somehow translate into woman hater? This doesnt seem to be the right place for an article like this.. unless it is the message you want to send.

    • Catroast DuJour

      How does revealing some telling history about The Cult of Feminism equate to misogyny? Quite a leap you’ve made there, Sally.

    • Teerexness

      Libertarianism has at it’s core two things. The non-aggression principle, and property rights. This is how I understand it. Both are much deeper subjects than they would first appear to be, but I think the primary difficulty both the women in this historical event and too many of the current crop of females calling themselves “libertarian” have, has to do with the property rights part of the equation. Rights ALWAYS include responsibility, and property rights (the property here being ourselves) must also include taking responsibility for that which we own. To my knowledge, not a single woman has ever apologized or expressed any regret for implementing this completely inexcusable, and deadly historical incident.

      • andrea

        Teerexness, I wish the Order of The White Feather had never happened, and am horrified that people who were not liable to go to war shamed people who were into going. I cannot possibly be the only woman in the world who feels this way. Do you mean”not a single high-profile public face of feminism”?

        • Teerexness

          No, I literally meant “to my knowledge, not a single woman…..”. Until now. You’ve got class Andrea. Thanks!

    • SnakeEyez

      Calling women out = misogyny. Hilarious.

  • Brayden Roberts

    I hope women know that without our sperm, they wouldn’t have that “miracle of life” bullshit.

    • andrea

      Really? I thought humans reproduced by parthenogenesis.

  • SnakeEyez

    Funny how the femmes are so hush hush about this nugget in history and yet are all to happy to claim all men start wars loudly which is just a lie anyway.

  • James M. Ray

    Isn’t this simply more proof that the REAL courage is found in those quiet heros on all sides who despite popular opinion wage a principled fight whenever possible for PEACE?