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MacDonald's PartyLabour Identities and Crisis 1922-1931$
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David Howell

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203049.001.0001

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Contesting Woman’s Place

Contesting Woman’s Place

Chapter:
(p.347) CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Contesting Woman’s Place
Source:
MacDonald's Party
Author(s):

David Howell (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203049.003.0022

When women challenged their assigned place in the Labour Party, and, at least by implication, their official identity as ‘Labour Woman’, their dissent was fuelled by specific and deeply felt disagreements over policy. The provision of information on birth control by publicly funded clinics proved to be highly controversial for British Labour in the 1920s. On this issue more than any other, conflict developed between the institutions specific to Labour women and the overall party. Wartime experiences had given many working-class women a sense of their own autonomy; a change which raised the possibility of family limitation as a desirable option. As familiar routines re-emerged after the war, depression in staple and well-unionized trades provided a powerful incentive for family limitation. Such sentiments were fired by a belief that the lives of working-class women did not have to be confined and damaged by successive and frequently difficult pregnancies, each adding to the pressure on already meagre household budgets. For the politically active, their involvement in the Labour Party's Women's Sections was a declaration against passivity and acquiescence.

Keywords:   women, Labour Party, birth control

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