Step Forward the Cowards! – Humiliation, Shame and Countershame in Memories of the White Feather Campaign

  • Stirling Moorey Independent Scholar, UK


One of the most enduring and dramatic tropes of the First World War is the image of a young woman giving a white feather to a man who is not in uniform to shame him into enlisting. This article examines the ‘White Feather Campaign’ from a history of emotions perspective, focusing on the male shame experience. It analyses this as part of a dynamic interaction of the participants: the white feather giver, the receiver, and the witness(es). The narratives of the men involved illustrate the varied ways they regained their sense of manhood in the face of humiliation: through reframing and counter-shaming.