New Directions in History

Sue Bruley (Presented paper)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description of Activity

Little attention has been given to feminist journals during the WLM period. This paper examines socialist feminist print media and in particular Women’s Voice (WV) which was in many ways the most interesting of the socialist-feminist publications of this period. WV was organisationally and politically linked to the Trotskyist inspired International Socialists (from 1976 the Socialist Workers Party ). At its height WV had the distinction of engaging with a range of working class women from different occupations and regions across the UK. This makes it arguably the most significant socialist-feminist publication of the British women’s liberation movement. The intention of this paper is to explore the rise of WV in the early 1970s and to account for its demise in 1982. Previous accounts have focussed on the tensions between the autonomous feminist movement and Leninist revolutionary socialism which held that women’s liberation had to be subordinated to the class struggle and under the discipline of the Party. These tensions were never resolved. This paper argues that insufficient attention has been paid to the historical context. The paper’s greatest impact was linked to the mass campaign of the mid 1970s in defence of the Abortion Act of 1966 which succeeded in bringing together large numbers of trade unionists and socialists with the women’s movement in defence of ‘a woman’s right to choose’. Ultimately WV failed because the left as a whole retreated in the late 1970s in the face of attacks on trade unionists, rising unemployment and the emergence of the new right.
Period19721982
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational