Monday, December 13, 2010
Sheila Rowbotham - Hidden from History
But also it was true within personal relationships - Rowbotham shows how women often found their socialist partners would, once married, revert to the same expectations of the role of women in the family as their bourgeois contemporaries.
But the author doesn't try to find some natural antagonism between men and women, she places such relations firmly in the context of a system that saw both the need to divide and rule, and to place the burden of raising the next generation of workers on the woman.
The struggle for the right to vote for women forms the backdrop to most of the book, though the turning point comes with the first world war, with women entering the workplaces in large numbers for the first time. Even though this ended to a certain extent with the return of peace, the fact that women had taken on jobs seen as being exclusively male fundamentally shifted social attitudes. This even survived the mass unemployment of the 1930s. Further struggles were ahead, ones that weren't simply about economic equality, though these were important. But struggles over childcare, the right to abortion and access to contraception were ones that eventually became those of the whole movement.