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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Catching up on journal literature and chapters XI

Judy Giles, ‘"Playing Hard to Get": working‐class women, sexuality and respectability in Britain, 1918‐40',  Women's History Review, 1:2, 239-255: useful piece using oral history methodology re working class women's sexual attitudes in interwar period. Importance of self-assertion and standing up for oneself - not a submissive passive stereotype.

Lucy Delap, Ben Griffin, Abigail Wills, The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain since 1800 (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) - still working through this, but so far, very useful chapters:
Ginger Frost,. '"I am master here": Illegitimacy, Masculinity and Violence in Victorian England', pp 27-42: issues around male status, control over women and children, authority, etc, resentment against the mothers of their illegitimate offspring and the demands for support. Courts much more punitive towards the men who actually murdered their illeg offspring (contrasting to the relative leniency towards women who did so)
Gail Savage, '"…the instrument of an animal function: Marital Rape and Sexual Cruelty in the Divorce Court, 1858-1908' pp 43-57: ways women could effectively deploy accusations of sexually abusive behaviour within the context of marital disputes in the courtroom. They could bring charges of abusive or non-normative sexual demands by husbands in divorce and separation cases and could also use these as reasons to context cases for restitution of conjugal rights. Divorce Court judges were actually v severe on male sexual conduct perceived  as transgressive (and their limits of normality were v narrow).

Two good pieces by Judith Walkowitz: 'Going Public: Shopping, Street Harassment, and Streetwalking in Late Victorian London', Representations 662, 1998, pp. 1-30 is a valuable extension of the material in City of Dreadful Delight concerning women in public urban spaces and makes lots of useful points; 'The "Vision of Salome": Cosmopolitanism and Erotic Dancing in Central London, 1908-1918', The American Historical Review, Vol. 108, No. 2 (April 2003), pp. 337-376 provides a wider context to Maud Allan and the 'Cult of the Clitoris' case, in particular issues of female performance and display and the rise of a female audience for same but not sure this is quite so relevant to my immediate needs as the previous.

Three articles from the Welsh social history journal Llafur: Gareth Williams, 'Compulsory Sterilisation of Welsh Miners' (no 3:3 1983 pp 67-73) was rather misleading, since this was in fact merely one of courses of action being advocated by one of the more rabid mainline eugenicists of the early 1930s who believed that miners were having too large families and also had issues about the Welsh, but it all remained in the relam of polemic. Margaret Douglas, 'Women. God and Birth Control: The first hospital birth control clinic'(no 6:4 1995, pp 110-122) was an interesting piece about the Marie Stopes sponsored clinic in Abertillery - the moving force was actually a local male Labour activist, and the whole thing appears to have foundered largely as a result of the overwhelming counter-reaction by charismatic local preacher, Rev Ifor Evans. Though it doesn't sound as though, for whatever reason, local women actually used the clinic much.  Russell Davies, 'A Broken Dream: some aspects of sexual behaviour and the dilemma of the unmarried mother in South West Wales' (no 3:4, 1984, pp. 24-33) Starts with the prevalent notion of rural Wales as a land of pure morals - uncorrupted by industry or the incursions of the English. In fact the relevant areas had far higher rates of illegitimacy than more urbanised parts. Attitudes towards the women in question tended to be punitive and the women in question often even failed to carry actions for affiliation and support. Local magistrates were also dismissive of cases of sexual assault.

Also on Wales, Julie Grier, 'Eugenics and Birth Control: Contraceptive Provision in North Wales, 1918-1939', Social History of Medicine vol 11, 1998, pp 443-458: suggests that in the period in question, initiatives in North Wales, when they occurred at all, were largely down to local politicians and medics who were often about a eugenic agenda. The more pressing issues of maternal health were much less in play. Significance, that we find elsewhere, of particular local individuals.

Partly on Wales, but also drawing on her work on Oxfordshire, Kate Fisher's 'Contrasting cultures of contraception: Birth control clinics and the working-classes in Britain between the wars', in M Gijswijt-Hofstra, G M Van Heteren and E M Tansey, Biographies of Remedies: Drugs, medicines and contraceptives in Dutch and Anglo-American Healing Cultures (Clio Medica 66, Rodopi, 2002) is persuasive about the problems that clinics had in actually appealing to the constituency they were aiming for. Fisher argues that there was a huge disjunction between the mindset of the campaigners for contraception and the women who were their intended audience, which meant that the services offered by clinics often met significant resistance from those they aimed to help.

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