Sexual Politics: Sexuality, Family Planning, and the British Left from the 1880s to the Present Day

Overview

Sexual Politics explores the complex relationship between sexuality and socialist politics in Britain between the 1880s and the present day. Looking at birth control, abortion law reform, and gay rights, this is a timely examination of the relationship between the personal and the political over the last century and a half. Stephen Brooke tells the stories of individuals such as Edward Carpenter, Dora Russell, Sheila Rowbotham, Ken Livingstone, Peter Tatchell, and Tony Blair, and organizations like the Workers' ...

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Overview

Sexual Politics explores the complex relationship between sexuality and socialist politics in Britain between the 1880s and the present day. Looking at birth control, abortion law reform, and gay rights, this is a timely examination of the relationship between the personal and the political over the last century and a half. Stephen Brooke tells the stories of individuals such as Edward Carpenter, Dora Russell, Sheila Rowbotham, Ken Livingstone, Peter Tatchell, and Tony Blair, and organizations like the Workers' Birth Control Group, the Abortion Law Reform Association, the National Abortion Campaign, and the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Sexual radicalism, first and second wave feminism, and gay liberation all feature in the book's portrait of the progress of sexual politics from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century.

Sexual Politics also offers an analysis of the Labour Party's long and sometimes ambiguous link to issues of sexuality, ending with the considerable contribution made to sex reform by the New Labour governments of 1997 to 2010. Sexual issues were always under the surface of Labour politics in the twentieth century, emerging forcefully in the 1970s and 1980s in a way that brought both division and unity to the party. Brooke stresses the importance of class and gender identity to the fate of sexual issues in British politics, the dynamic nature of British socialism, and the impact of sexual radicalism, feminism, and gay liberation upon socialist and working-class politics. Sexual Politics argues that the shifting relationship between the personal and the political is a central element of twentieth-century British history, a relationship that helped define the character of political modernity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stephen Brooke's sophisticated study, Sexual Politics, persuasively shows how class shaped sexual reform and how sexual change in turn reshaped social identities. His analysis spans the late nineteenth century to the present, examining this dynamic as it developed in distinct yet linked moments in a longer history." -Journal of British Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199680979
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/15/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Brooke has been a co-editor of the journal Twentieth-Century British History since 2004 and managing editor since 2010. He has also served on the editorial boards of Contemporary British History and the Journal of British Studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: 'Your Sex Life is Political'
1. Beginnings: Socialism and Sexual Reform, 1880s to 1920s
2. Clash: The Labour Party and Birth Control in the 1920s
3. Writing and Living New Worlds: Socialism, Sex and Emotions
4. Abortion and Working-Class Politics in the 1930s
Section II: Roads to 1967
5. A 'Silent', 'Modern' Revolution'? The Family, Femininity and Reproductive Politics in the 1940s and 1950s
6. Labour and the 'Liberal Hour', 1956-67: Abortion, Family Planning and Homosexual Law Reform
Section III: Roads from 1967
7. Second Wave Feminism, Labour and the Defence of the Abortion Act, 1967-90
8. A Thirty Years War? Gay Rights and the Labour Party, 1967-97
Conclusion: Endings or Beginnings: New Labour, Sexuality and Reproductive Politics, 1997 to 2010
Archival Sources and Select Bibliography
Index

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