In Gail Bederman’s book, Manliness & Civilization, she dedicates a whole chapter to the ideas and views of Idea B. Wells. She also writes extensively about G. Stanley Hall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Theodore Roosevelt. Each of these people takes on a different view of manliness in “civilized” societies. Hall looks at the ideas of letting little boys be little savage; Gilman explores the ideas of white men needing white women; and Roosevelt tackles manliness and how it directly correlates to being masculine. In this chapter Bederman discusses how whites wove together manliness and racial violence, how Ida B Wells noticed lynching brutality, how she inverts the civilization discourse, her two tours to Britain and there results, and the ideas of the natural man and the primitive man.
White northerners were being bombarded with propaganda involving black men uncontrollability lusting after white women; they believed that the savages wanted to taint white purity. This was sometimes called the, “new Negro crime” (Bederman p.46), starting around the late 1880’s; contrary to popular belief around this time the number of these types of rapes stayed that same and may have possibly went down. Since rapes clearly weren’t the driving force behind the Southern lynching historians accredit it to a multitude of different reasons; Bederman says they are, “Populism, economic depression, the uncertainty of a new market economy, and Southern politics” (p. 47). What does this boil down to? These men were scared of the economy and of blacks rising in social standing; they wanted to assert dominance white they still had it. To separate themselves from blacks they made it seem as though black men gave in to a temptation that white men did not.
When Bederman gets in the Wells she begins with her life before her sights were set on lynching. In the 1890’s Wells was an antiracist activist, a schoolteacher and a writer for a black newspapers. She was everything except normal for her time; Wells got into a physical confrontation while standing up against Jim Crow laws while on a train, she ended up biting the male conductor for trying to remove her from said train. When her close friend was viciously lynched she switched gears and took on the struggle as her own (Bederman p.54). The lynching took place as a message to remind blacks what happens when they become too successful. After taking on this new injustice Wells’ first idea was to show the whites the errors of their ways, she figured that if she could put economic pressure on then they would crack. While following through with his campaign she was continuously writing columns about lynchings. Wells wrote an extremely controversial piece that took a jab at the purity of white women, and as result she has to flee from home to New York. This changed the course of her life forever.
After arriving in New York Wells published a pamphlet, Southern Horrors, that disputed, “the idea that the black man was a...