Uncovering the sex lives of Catholic women
in The Pope and the pill
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This chapter discusses the sources, methods and approach that are used in the book. It begins by outlining the significance of the ‘personal’ for the study. I speak about my own religious, sexual and familial background and the effect this has had on the project. I argue that an open, reflexive approach places the reader in a privileged position from which to evaluate the testimony of the interviewees. A new Catholic-feminist methodology is advanced which emphasises the need to take Catholic women seriously as authors of their own life stories. The chapter then moves on to offer important information about the way the oral history material was gathered. In this section of the chapter, how the interviewees were recruited, the interview process and the question of ‘representivity’ are addressed. It argues that rather than seeing the subjective nature of spoken testimony as a limitation, it is this very attribute which can help reframe understandings of ‘the personal’ within Catholicism.

The Pope and the pill

Sex, Catholicism and women in post-war England