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  • Published in Marx 101

Lindsey German looks at the history of the women's movement, the massive changes to the lives of women and the theoretical responses to women's oppression

Until relatively recently the study of women’s history was largely unknown. That has changed in the last two decades and it is now taught on specific courses in colleges and is the subject of large numbers of studies. To some right wingers, this is simply the result of ‘political correctness’ in the colleges. But rather we should see this development as part of a particular set of historical circumstances which have allowed women to act more freely than in any previous generation. This includes large numbers of women gaining access to higher education and at least some of them developing an interest in what role women have played in history.

We should not be surprised by this. The rise of specific interest in women’s history has coincided with dramatic social changes in women’s lives. This has been true particularly in two periods in the 20th century when there was very swift and dramatic change in how women worked, lived and perceived themselves. The first period was around and after the First World War when the blossoming of women’s history was quite dramatic. The suffragette movement which erupted before the war had a big impact on a layer of educated and middle class women, who became radicalised around a range of issues.

The position of these women had changed considerably within the space of one or two generations. Whereas for much of the 19th century, women from such class backgrounds were not expected to work, or to engage in any serious education, by the 1880s and 1890s this was beginning to change. New girls’ schools teaching serious subjects were being established, women were being allowed - in a very limited way - into higher education, and for the first time a small number were being treated as individuals with a role outside the home. The rise of what was called the ‘new woman’ - independent, radical and sexually liberated coincided with this development. In addition, middle class women began to engage in paid work for example as typewriters, what today we would call secretaries or typists. Women began looking at issues from new horizons, especially that tiny minority which had access to universities or to some sort of research.

It was in this context that a layer of new women historians developed, many associated with the gradualist socialist intellectual group, the Fabian Society. These women tended to write social history, concentrating on the history of women in and around work, or on more sociological studies about the conditions under which working women lived in contemporary Britain. So Clementina Black wrote Married Women Working and Maud Pember Reeves Round about a pound a week which described contemporary working class life, although we would now view them obviously as historical documents.

After the First World War there were a number of historical studies: Barbara Drake’s pathbreaking book in 1920 Women in Trade Unions; Alice Clarke on the Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century (1919); and in 1930 Ivy Pinchbeck’s Women Workers and the Industrial Revolution, which is still one of the best books on the history of women workers and which helps develop an understanding of what happened to women in the crucial 100 years from 1750 to 1850 with the development of the industrial revolution and modern capitalism.

These books were, however, largely unknown to or ignored by later generations; access to them was confined to a tiny number of people. Indeed, when the historian Keith Thomas, teaching at Oxford in the 1950s, tried to organise a series of lectures on women in the 17th century ‘his colleagues found the subject bizarre and the students simply did not turn up to listen’. i There were books written on a number of subjects relating to women in those years but the marginalisation of women’s history only changed significantly with the emergence of the modern women’s movement in the 1960s, following the second great period of change in women’s lives, that period of the postwar boom from the 1940s to the 1960s when women found access to jobs, education and greater individual freedom in quantities previously regarded as utopian. The existence of a social movement around women especially in the US but also in Britain gave added impetus to the study of history, so by the early 1970s a new generation of women writers was coming to the fore.

The title of one of the most popular books of the period, ‘Hidden from History’ by Sheila Rowbotham, which detailed an overview of women’s role in history, seemed to encapsulate the feeling of many: that we were now viewing for the first time the role of women as active participants in history. ii The nature of the subject matter and the period and social background from which these writers sprang meant that many were influenced by the left, and were in turn attracted to the ideas summarised by the development of history from below and of labour history. This was history from the point of view of the hitherto largely unknown and usually underprivileged -  and this sort of history also began to redress the balance of historical study in favour of women. All the faults of bourgeois history which dominated teaching in schools and universities prior to the 1960s - history from the top down, the history of a few famous people - were highlighted in relation to women’s history. I left school in 1969 and my view was that there were three categories of women in history: there were queens, there was the braying mob - women involved in bread riots or knitting at the guillotine during the French revolution - and there were the suffragettes. These different elements were supposed to represent the sum of women’s historical experience.

With the development of new ways of looking at history from the point of view of the participants a new and hitherto virtually unknown dimension of women’s role opened up. We began to learn that the Matchgirls’ strike of 1888 which was almost exclusively composed of women marked the beginning of the struggle for the ‘New Unionism’ among the unskilled and previously unorganised. The period of mass strikes known as the Great Unrest in the years before the First World War also saw the mass involvement of women workers. In the summer of 1911 there was an explosion of women’s strikes in south and east London especially in industries connected with food processing. The real story of the fight for the suffrage was also much more interesting and complicated than had been hitherto taught in schools, as the new histories on, for example, the northern working class suffragists showed. The Suffragists were more constitutional in their aims than the suffragettes and saw their role as campaigning for change within and around the emerging Labour party and within the unions, especially the female dominated textile unions. iii

However, writing history about women, especially from a feminist point of view, might be relatively straightforward while it remained at the level of description; once it moved beyond that it very rapidly brought the authors up against a theoretical problem. Change in women’s lives and change in broader society had to be explained with reference to something, but many feminists rejected a view of history which saw changes in women’s lives coming from the same forces as those things which changed men’s lives. Instead they looked to patriarchy theory to underpin their analysis of women’s oppression. In this context, 19th century working class women’s history became a battlefield where various writers fought it out to try to establish what the roots of women’s oppression really were. In particular, a debate opened up about whether it was in the interests of male workers to maintain women’s oppression and if therefore the fight for liberation was not simply against capital but against men as well.


There were those who claimed that patriarchy theory was just an ideological construction, that there were two separate spheres: ‘the economic mode of capitalism and the ideological mode of patriarchy.’ iv which were completely autonomous and which needed separate strategies in order to confront them. This argument was essentially that regardless of what material changes happened in the lives of working men and women, the ideas of women’s oppression endured in the form of patriarchy, which coexisted alongside capitalism. The political conclusion following this analysis was the need for totally separate struggles against capitalism on the one hand and against patriarchy on the other; hence the need for a separate women’s movement to organise against patriarchy. There was, however, a fundamental weakness with this theory: women’s lives had changed beyond all recognition under capitalism and were still changing. How could such material changes take place and this not affect the ideas which people had in their heads? The theory seemed to accept that there could be a complete transformation in the family, in the sort of work people did, in the way that they lived, without this in any way affecting ideas of male domination or women’s subordination. The theory was only sustainable if the development of ideas was regarded as completely separate from the development of society, and many people could spot the weakness with this argument. It was relatively easy for Marxists to argue that such a theory was idealist, starting from the ideas in people’s heads, rather than the circumstances which created them.

Much harder to deal with, however, was an argument put forward by the American feminist Heidi Hartmann, who wrote an influential article which later became part of a collection of essays called The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism. vThe theme of the essay was to provide a material explanation of patriarchy. Hartman understood that it was not adequate to explain patriarchy simply by the backward ideas in men’s heads. Instead she argued that the material reason for its continued existence despite the many changes which capitalism had wrought in the lives of women lay in an alliance between (male) labour and capital to ensure that the family was strengthened, that women were kept out of better paid and often the only available work, and that the family wage led to a family structure with a male breadwinner on whom the woman and children were totally dependent.

Hartman argued that the material basis for patriarchy was ‘men’s control over women’s labour power’. vi During the 19th century a Faustian bargain was struck between male labour and capital. In return for protective legislation, which excluded women and children from certain sorts of work, most notably coal mining, and a family wage paid to the male - in other words a wage sufficient to keep not only the worker but also his family without any others members of the family having to go out to work - male workers agreed to women being pushed out of work. This gave them a privileged position in the workplace, where the monopoly of skilled and better paid jobs stayed with men, and a privileged position on the home as the pivot of the ‘male breadwinner family’. The capitalists in return developed an increasingly skilled workforce, and had to lay out relatively little in costs of reproduction for the existing and future generations of workers, since their welfare and upbringing was carried by the family itself. This was to the detriment of the women in particular, who lost the ability to become independent wage earners especially after marriage, and who had their oppression reinforced by their dependence on the man in the home.

This argument can be shown to be false in many respects; however it contained one important grain of truth. It attempted a plausible explanation of the continued existence of the working class family in circumstances where its very future had seemed under threat and therefore seemed to challenge other explanations, especially that put forward by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the 1840s, who argued that the oppression of women was bound up with the development of class society, and with it the institution of the family. The needs of any particular class society led to the development of a particular form of family, which changed as the mode of production itself changed. Capitalist society, divided as it was into two major classes, created two quite different sorts of family. The family of the bourgeoisie was based on private property. The experience of working class life was very different. The proletariat possessed no property; in addition, every member of the family was pulled into the labour market in the early years of capitalism, especially in the textile industry. This had the effect of destroying the old patriarchal family which had existed before the factory system. Marx and Engels therefore believed that the tendency of the working class family under capitalism was to disappear.

The fact is, however, that this did not happen. The tendency which appeared so strong to Engels when he wrote about the breakdown of family life in The Condition of the Working Class in England did not continue. Certainly in the second half of the 19th century the working class family as an institution was strengthened, and with it came a whole series of attitudes which tended to reinforce women’s subordinate role. It is this phenomenon for which Hartmann’s analysis attempts to provide an explanation. Unfortunately, the historical record tends to show that as a matter of fact she was wrong on all the major counts.

Protective legislation

In the first half of the 19th century, this concerned two aspects of work: the reduction of hours for certain classes of workers, most notably children, and the exclusion of women and children from certain jobs. It is argued that protective legislation was fought for by men inside the working class, alongside sections of the capitalist class, in order to exclude cheap female or child competition and that this gave to men inside the working class the monopoly of the good jobs. It also reinforced a sexual division of labour which discriminated against women. In fact, the purpose of the protective legislation from the point of view of workers was generally to improve the conditions of working class life. The Factory Act of 1833 which restricted hours and night work applied only to children; it was only in 1844 that subsequent legislation included women, who were prevented from working more than 12 hours or from working nights.

The major opposition to restricting hours came from the employers, although increasingly sections of the bourgeoisie came to see some value in restricting hours if in exchange it was able to employ a more skilled and healthy - and therefore more productive - workforce. The restriction of women working in coal mines was only introduced just before the introduction of the 1842 legislation which had developed from an inquiry into child labour in the mines, mainly as a result, it seems, of ‘numerous petitions on the subject which were addressed to parliament from Lancashire and Yorkshire towns’.vii

It is also wrong to see the legislation as having a major effect on women’s work nationally. Even before the legislation, women only worked in certain sorts of mining and therefore only in certain areas: the West Riding of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire, the east of Scotland and South Wales. viii Even within these areas, the number of women employed was often relatively small - for example, in Yorkshire only 22 women per 1000 men worked in the mines.ix In most areas, men and women were simply not in direct competition with each other for jobs. While the exclusion of women from work obviously had a major impact in areas where there was such competition, it cannot explain why the whole of the working class developed a division of labour which discriminated against women.

The unions

A similar point can be made regarding the unions. The vast majority of workers in Britain, both men and women, were outside of the trade unions throughout most of the 19th century. Indeed, the unions were phenomenally weak in most areas of work. As late as 1870, only 400,000 workers out of 11 million in the workforce belonged to unions - a much smaller proportion than today when between a quarter and a third of workers are in unions. The two major areas of women’s employment were in domestic service - where there were no unions - and textiles which was highly unionised and where women played a full role. Many of the other areas of unionisation traditionally employed no or very few women, since the early unions where they existed were nearly always based on craft skills. It should be stressed that these trades tended to be highly exclusive, but they were exclusive of the majority of men as well as of women. The idea that these bodies could be responsible for the shaping of women’s employment attributes to them an influence and power which they simply did not have.

The family wage

The argument that in return for pushing women back into the home male workers received a family wage provides if true some sort of material benefit for men inside the working class. Yet it is hard to sustain the argument that most men did receive a family wage. Most studies of working class income in the second half of the 19th century show that the male earnings alone were simply not sufficient to cover the costs of reproduction (food, clothing, housing etc.) in most working class families. x In addition to this, substantial numbers of married women continued to work outside the home throughout the 19th century (as well as the large numbers who supplemented family income by taking in boarders, washing or other sorts of service work). So Clementina Black points to as number of industries where married women’s work was central; and in textiles a third of the women workers in the 1860s were married. xi

Perhaps most devastating of all to Hartmann’s thesis is the evidence put forward by Jane Humphries about women’s role in the workforce. Humphries shows that in the years immediately following the introduction of protective legislation, women’s workforce participation rose. It remained high in the 1860s and 1870s. It was only very late in the 19th century that women’s workforce participation appeared to decline - and this was trend which continued into the first two or three decades of the 20th century. Part of the problems of discussing these questions lies in the inaccuracy or non-comparability of some of the figures, including some of the census returns, which seem to have underestimated the number of women working at certain times. By making certain allowances and adjustments, however, the figures used by Humphries (from a study by Higgs) show that ‘female activity rates in 1851-71 were almost certainly higher than any that were recorded again until after the Second World War, and perhaps even until the 1960s.’ xii

This shows that whatever the truth about the removal of women from work, it did not coincide with industrialisation or with the capitalist development of the early and mid 19th century. This alone knocks a hole in the Hartmann theses, which equate women’s subordination with the advent of industrial capitalism and the male working class. Evidence even for the later period is very mixed, with some writers believing that women’s work, and part time work in particular, has been underestimated by historians, thus systematically downplaying married women’s work. xiii More importantly however even if we accept Jane Humphries’ analysis, that around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries women’s work outside the home did decline compared with previous decades, then there is no need to accept the capitalist-male worker conspiracy of patriarchy theory in order to explain it. Humphries herself puts forward a number of reasons why women did not enter certain jobs: geographical mobility was much harder for both married and single women; there was also a question of physical strength in certain industries. xiv She argues that if questions of the family wage and union strength had any influence on women’s work, they did not do so until much later than the period usually designated by feminist historians, and other factors, such as the marriage bar in certain industries (where married women had to give up work they had previously done while single) was also instrumental in preventing women from working in larger numbers until the 1930s. xv

Rejecting the conspiracy theory

The questions of when, how and why women went out to work at various periods and in particular geographical areas is complicated and controversial; however the starting point for anyone trying to understand the development of part of the working class has to be the rejection of any conspiracy theory but rather an understanding of the way in which the labour market works. This is really impossible to do without some theory of class. The accumulation of capital is the motor of capitalism and with it goes the exploitation of the working class. The drive to accumulation means that capital tends to exploit workers regardless of gender, race or nationality - the key question for capital is which group of workers can be exploited most efficiently and to extract the greatest rate of return on the capitalist’s profit. The particular work patterns of women have to be seen in this context. Historically women nave often played the role of a reserve army of labour. This was most obviously the case during the two world wars, when women were drawn into the workforce to replace men who had been conscripted to fight. But it can also be argued that women have played the role of reserve army in the postwar years, not by being a disposable army - they are now clearly a permanent and increasing part of the workforce - but by acting to lower the level of wages overall. In this context the capitalist class today often seems to prefer to employ women workers, seeing them as more flexible and willing to accept lower pay.

Chartist meeting on Kennington Common

We also have to look at the 19th century in a political context, because the shape which the British working class took was determined by political as well as economic considerations. The defeat of Chartism by the mid century and the rapid growth of British capitalism and empire in the decades which immediately followed meant that the working class movement developed along narrow lines and its ideology accepted much of bourgeois ideology. In the view of Dorothy Thompson something happened to the movement in those years which led to ideological retreat and the development of reactionary ideas around for example the family, and that this was coupled with the withdrawal of women from public life and protest; Frederick Engels described how the workers had no political independence from the bourgeoisie:’you ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general: the same as the bourgeoisie think.’xvi The defeat of Chartism, a movement of the working class based essentially on universalist and inclusivist ideas, had a huge impact. This defeat alongside the growing wealth of British capitalism and its pre eminence among its rivals allowed the British capitalist class to ride any protests or discontent over the ensuing decades. The depression of the 1870s and 80s changed this, and led to the development first of organised socialist ideas and then of the first mass unions of the unskilled; nonetheless, the development of the working class had already been marked by its narrow and sectional outlook, and even the big general struggles were distorted by this. This affected the working class family. It was in theory possible for working class men and women to fight for equal access to work for men and women, and for an equal division of labour within the home. In practice the division of labour at work was to the advantage of men. There is little question that where women had a choice once they had children of whether to work or not, many of them saw staying at home as preferable.

This was hardly surprising. Conditions in Britain were appalling for working class families in the years after the industrial revolution. Child labour led to terrible levels of infant mortality and injury. Even after its abolition, the conditions in which their mothers (and fathers) still led to terrible suffering through long hours of work leading to neglect, high levels of poverty and poor diet, malnutrition of babies and so on. Parents who worked long hours found that they could not care for their children properly. Increasingly, working class families began to connect improvements in their living standards with the withdrawal of children and increasingly women from the labour market. This was not of course the only way of improving the health an living standards of working class families;but it is clearly the option which appeared most realistic. The limited aspirations and narrow horizons of many in the working class at that time did not lead towards collective solutions such as publicly provided childcare - and this was certainly not advocated by the ruling class. Therefore the preferred option became the withdrawal of women from paid work and the demand for a family wage to provide for all members of the family. However much this remained far from reality for most workers, and however much the aspiration was shared by both men and women in the working class the fact that it was women who were expected to withdraw from work was clearly a defeat for women inside the working class and a setback in terms of ideas for the working class as a whole.

The collective and the individual

The relationship between collective exploitation and individual oppression is mediated by the family which is itself a product of class society. It is here that we have to start when analysing why women remain oppressed. Some earlier feminist historians were also socialists and so accepted some of this analysis. In ‘Woman’s consciousness, men’s world’ , Sheila Rowbotham wrote; ‘I consider the solution to exploitation and oppression to be communism, despite the hollow resonance the word has acquired. It seems to me that the cultural and economic liberation of women is inseparable from the creation of a society in which all people no longer have their lives stolen from them, and in which the conditions of their production and reproduction will no longer be distorted and held back by the subordination of sex, race and class.’ xvii

However this was not the analysis taken up by most involved on feminist history. Indeed, even socialist feminists began to run away from these ideas. The Communist Party women historians in particular were faced with a contradiction: they were trying to build a women’s movement based on all women having something in common while at the same time being part of an organisation which based its analysis on class. They also had to explain why in the so called socialist countries women were oppressed as anywhere else. The theory of patriarchy appeared to overcome these contradictions by assuming that the fight against oppression was quite separate from that against exploitation and so two separate revolutions were needed. By the late 1970s this theory was dominant inside the women’s movement.

The ideas of feminism led many socialists towards patriarchy theory. Even Sheila Rowbotham who does not accept the theory of patriarchy, theorised women in the household as operating within a mode’ of production. ‘In the relation between husband and wife there is an exchange of services which resembled the bond between man and man in feudalism. The woman essentially serves the man in exchange for care and protection. xviiiEven by the early 1970s this was not a particularly accurate view of how most people lived, but nonetheless this was an attempt to apply a Marxist analysis to the idea that you have to have separate revolutions. This is really the conclusion, and it is a short step from her to accepting the whole theory of patriarchy.

Patriarchy theory also led in an apolitical direction which said that women’s history should be looked at from the point of view of women who live in all classes. The radical feminists who became much more dominant later on in the late 1970s and early 1980s moved away from any idea of social history to history about any women who were strong, interesting, or written about in history, and this tended not to be the workers, poor peasants or people who suffered most in society, but the people who had access to education or to wealth.

This led to quite reactionary women’s history for example praising women’s various attempts at prohibition of alcohol, of trying to prohibit prostitution because of sexual diseases. Some of the campaigners in these areas were complete reactionaries, the 19th century equivalent of the moral right in the US today. Yet they were now regarded as somehow doing things for women.

Even among socialist feminists who stayed on the left history tended to avoid the ‘high points’ - the decisive turning points in the class struggle and the class polarisation: the English revolution, the French revolution, the Paris Commune, the Great Unrest - periods when people didn’t just act as they had done for sometimes hundreds of years, but when they started to act in a very different way. You can analyse why they acted and have different interpretations of what they did but nonetheless any attempt to move away from this in favour of simply looking at everyday life where nothing much changes is a retreat from trying to understand women’s history.

I’m absolutely in favour of work discussing cooking, marriage all the things which are more and more the subject of work. For example a very good book by Diana Gittins talks about fertility in different sorts of working class communities. She shows how textile workers had very low rates of fertility for working class women because they had a much greater chance of a job and were much more likely to be employed. The women who didn’t have much prospect of work, for example in the coalmining areas such as South Wales, tended to be the ones who stayed at home and had large families. xix However, studies about why people had certain sorts of family, or why they wore particular clothes or cooked particular food, have to be put in a particular context. Beneath any of these supposedly everyday questions there are material changes in society and in economics. For example women dressed and acted in quite specific and often quite new ways during the Second World War in Britain; but their tastes in music and fashion can only be understood in the context of very new freedoms especially for young women such as working in ‘male’ jobs, earning their ‘own’ income and living away from home before marriage.

Whereas when the 1960s wave of feminist history began there was a strong Marxist and materialist flavour to it, today that is not the case. The post-modern crisis means that we are told there is no hierarchy of discourse, nothing can be more important than anything else, and there is certainly no real attempt to come to terms with change for women. This post-modern crisis is most obvious in the rewriting of the history of the women’s movement itself. There is supposedly a younger generation who are claiming that feminism was all about not wearing lipstick or dressing unfashionably. This was never true , it was never about whether people wore makeup or not. It was about people refusing to be restricted by these kind of images. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the women’s movement will know that the whole question of sexuality was an absolutely central component to it - whether you are talking about the right to choose, or women’s and men’s college accommodation being segregated , or the writing on the myth of the vaginal orgasm. The consequence of removing class from history in women’s politics has been instrumental in stressing this individualistic view of women’s liberation. Once you start saying that it doesn’t matter, that class isn’t a component, or all women have something in common then you do have the idea then it leads to a retreat on complete liberation. In countries such as in Britain or in the US where there are a minority of women, about 15 percent, who do have a lot of individual freedom financially, socially and so on, then the argument goes that if this could be raised to 30 percent then everything would be all right. It is only a short step from this to arguing that the other 70 percent have only themselves to blame if they cannot achieve such heights, that it is the fault of the women at the bottom -the single parents or the unemployed - that they’re not like this.

All of this misses the most important thing to understand about women today: that we have undergone in a lifetime a complete revolution in the way that women live and work. Some statistics from the US tell us a lot: One is the changing composition of US households between 1960 and 1995. In 1960 there were 85.7 percent family households, today there are 70 percent. Married couples made up 74.8 percent in 1960, today it’s 54.4 percent. Couples with children- 47.5 percent, today it’s 25.5 percent. Births per hundred women in 1960 (by the end of child bearing age) was 345, today it’s 205; women aged 25-34 currently not married was only 11.5 percent in 1960 today it’s 41 percent. Out of wedlock births were 5.3 percent in 1960 today they’re 31 percent; and families headed by single mothers were 9.9 percent. Now the figure is 23.6 percent. xx

This is not just a small social shift, this is a fundamental change of women’s lives, how they live, work and their attitudes, which is hopeful for people who want to understand how women can act to change the world, rather than be victims of it. This kind of analysis is almost totally missing from any kind of women’s history today. There are a few empirical studies but they tend not to generalise, and there are general studies without looking at the changes that are taking place. The key thing in women’s history is how we can begin to bridge the gap by trying to develop a women’s history which has respect for what has happened in the past, but also understands the kind of process we are living through, and therefore points the way to how we can change the future.


i See Olwen Hufton The prospect before her London 1995 p.1

ii Sheila Rowbotham Hidden from History London 1973

iii Jill Liddington and Jill Norris One hand tied behind us London 1978 and Jill Liddington The life and times of a respectable rebel London 1984

iv Juliet Mitchell Psychoanalysis and Feminism London 1975 p. 412

v Heidi Hartmann The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism in Capital and Class no 8 London summer 1979

vi Heidi hartmann The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism in Capital and Class London no 8 Summer 1979 p.11

vii Ivy Pinchbeck Women and the Industrial Revolution p. 244

viii Pinchbeck p.244

ix Jane Humphries Protective legislation, the capitalist state and working class men: the case of the 1842 Mines Regulation Act in Feminist Review London no 7 Spring 1981 p.7

x See Male breadwinner families [Hazel]

xi Clementina Black Married Women’s Work London 1983 ; R. Burr Litchfield The family and the mill in Anthony Wohl ed The Victorian Family London 1978 p.182

xii Jane Humphries Women and paid work in Women’s history June Purvis ed London 1997 p. 96 Figures are based on E Higgs Women’s occupations and work in the nineteenth century censuses in History Workshop 23 1987

xiii Elizabeth Roberts ref.

xiv Humphries Women and paid work op cit p.99

xv Humphries ibid p100

xvi Dorothy Thompson Women and 19th century radical politics in The rights and wrongs of women ed Juliet Mitchell and Ann Oakley London 1976 p136-138. Frederick Engels letter to Karl Kautsky 12 September 1882 in Marx Engels Selected Correspondence Moscow 1982 p.330

xvii Sheila Rowbotham Woman’s consciousness, man’s world London 1973 pxvi

xviii Sheila Rowbotham Woman’s consciousness op cit p.62

xix Diana Gittins Fair Sex London 1982

xx New York Review of Books December 1997

Lindsey German

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.


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