Daisy Payling
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Sexuality, ‘race’ and the women’s movement
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This chapter explores how the women’s liberation movement (WLM) in Sheffield struggled to incorporate issues of sexuality and ‘race’ into its politics. It uses oral history interviews alongside the women’s press to unpick some of the archival silences surrounding lesbianism in the movement. Building on the previous chapter it shows how Sheffield’s WLM gradually developed a more radical feminism as socialist feminists turned their attention towards the Working Women’s Charter Committee (WWCC), and that lesbian and bisexual women increasingly shaped the movement from the early 1980s. Like the national WLM, Sheffield’s WLM and WWCC struggled to include and recognise women of colour in their feminism. Instead, Black and racially minoritised women tended to fight for gender equality within Black community politics and within campaigns against racism. This chapter explores attempts by Sheffield WLM and the WWCC to include women of colour, before tracing the development of two Black women’s groups; Sheffield Black Women’s Group (BWG) and the Black Women’s Resource Centre (BWRC) and their relationship with Sheffield WLM. It will also examine South Asian women’s groups in the city, paying particular attention to the Bengali Women’s Support Group and the role of women in the Asian Youth Movement. The propensity for women of colour and lesbian women to organise separately highlights the problems broader left-wing movements had with incorporating diverse voices and representing difference.

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