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Clare Debenham on Birth Control and the Rights of Women in the Early 20th Century

After the granting of the vote to women in 1918, the struggle for women's rights intensified with a nationwide campaign for the right to birth control. This campaign was met with a great deal of hostility; it threatened to overturn Victorian ideas about female sexuality, female empowerment and the traditional roles within the family. The most well known of the campaigners, scientist and early feminist Marie Stopes, opened clinics across England which fitted 'contraception caps' to women for free. The first history of this grassroots social movement after the Suffragettes offers a window into the social and cultural history of the period, and features new archival material in the forms of memoirs, personal papers and press cuttings. This is an essential contribution to the influential field of women's history and a vital addition to the history of feminism. The lecture focuses on 'Marie Stopes, Reluctant Mancunion , Sexual Revolutionary and Birth Control Pioneer ' as it is the 100th anniversary of the publication of her ground breaking 'Married Love' which was a best-seller. 'Marie Stopes was voted in the top ten of this month's BBC History readers' poll of 'Women Who Changed the World'.

Dr. Clare Debenham, Political Historian at the University of Manchester and her research is informed by over 30 years of activism for women's issues. In the 1970s Clare joined her local Women’s Liberation Group and was active in the movement, which contributed to her enduring interest in women’s politics. In 2010, she was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, Department of Politics, for her thesis which led to the book, Birth Control and the Rights of Women. She has also published Marie Stopes’ Sexual Revolution and the Birth Control Movement.

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Earlier Event: October 27
Wedding Closure