Along with the suffrage campaign, women's liberation activism is one of the most renowned aspects of women's political history. The women's liberation movement (WLM) has often been linked with the 'big city'. This is the first book-length account of the women's liberation movement in Scotland, which charts the origins and development of this important social movement of the post-1945 period. In doing so, it reveals the inventiveness and fearlessness of feminist activism, while also pointing towards the importance of considering the movement from the local and grassroots perspectives. This book has two central arguments. First, it presses for a more representative historiography in which material from other places outside of the large women's liberation centres are included. Second, it highlights that case studies not only enrich our knowledge about women's liberation but they also challenge the way the British movement has been portrayed by both participants and historians. The book commences with contextualising the subject and summarising recent research into the movement in the United Kingdom. It looks at the roots of the movement by offering portrayals of the women who went on to form women's liberation groups in Scotland. The book then analyses the phenomenon of 'consciousness-raising' (CR) and the part it had to play in the WLM's development. The focus then moves to exploring where, when and why women's liberation groups emerged. The campaigns taken up by the WLM were to defend abortion rights and campaign against violence against women.
This book discusses Catherine Breillat's films in thematic groupings. It examines Breillat's relation to some of the most important women in her life, including her mother, her sister, and fellow director Christine Pascal, whom she considered to be a kind of second sister. It explains the impact of a gender-conservative family environment and a strict religious upbringing, and then the countervailing influence of the Women's Liberation Movement on Breillat when she moved from the provinces to Paris. The discussion of Breillat's films connects them to feminist writings as well as to male gender studies. The book also explores the extraordinarily varied cultural context of Breillat's work, including the literature, films, paintings, photos and pop music that have influenced her films. Special attention is devoted to discussion of the complex relation between Breillat's films and patriarchal pornography. The book first considers her three female coming-of-age films including Une vraie jeune fille, 36 fillette and A ma soeur!, with Sex is Comedy, a movie about the making of A ma soeur!. Then, the book examines Breillat's three movies about masculinity in crisis, including Sale comme un ange (with a look at its early avatar, Police), Parfait amour! and Breve traversee. The book also examines Tapage nocturne, Romance and Anatomie de l'enfer, the three films that Breillat has made about the sexual odysseys of adult women. Finally, the book looks at Breillat's relation to and influence on other contemporary directors before turning to a discussion of her latest film, Une vieille maitresse.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows that the women's liberation movement (WLM), far from being a solely metropolitan phenomenon, actually extended its reach beyond the 'big cities' of England and to communities throughout Scotland. The WLM's use of the second wave label was a way to link their activism with the suffrage era, illustrate that theirs was an ongoing struggle and distinguish their work from groups active during their mothers' generation. The book looks at the roots of the movement by offering portrayals of the women who went on to form women's liberation groups. It further analyses the phenomenon of 'consciousness-raising' and the part it had to play in the WLM's development. The book also focuses on campaigns taken up by the WLM in Scotland: to defend abortion rights and to campaign against violence against women.
The women's liberation movement (WLM) in Scotland should be placed within its wider context to understand why it developed in the way it did but also to understand better the ways in which women's lives changed in contemporary Britain. As the 1970s progressed, women's liberation groups often supported the protests of groups like the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Radical feminism had emerged at the British women's liberation conference in 1972 when a group presented a paper which took a 'pro-woman line reminiscent of Redstockings'. The concept of liberation echoed developments in New Left thinking and allowed feminist activists to widen the campaign against female oppression to include all aspects of women's lives. Campaigns would no longer focus solely on women's public roles as the WLM highlighted the discrimination women also faced in the home and in relationships, successfully blurring the division between the public and the private.
Many of the women dated their interest in 'feminist' issues from their childhood. Indeed, from those that emphasised the personal nature of their politicisation interesting themes emerged about how early experiences shaped their future lives as campaigning feminists. This chapter maps some of these important experiences. Issues such as the mother/daughter relationship; relationships with men; early experiences of education, employment and inter-actions with the labour movement are discussed. Evidently women were taking the lead in many of the major events of student politics in Scotland in the 1960s and 1970s. One major way women gained their political spurs prior to engaging with the women's liberation movement (WLM) was through involvement in left-wing groups. While the changing political and social context taught future feminists the methods of political protest, it was really experiences within the family which provided them with the reasons for their anger.
As in the USA and Europe, consciousness-raising (CR) groups became the key entree for most women who 'joined' the women's liberation movement (WLM) in Scotland in the 1970s. This chapter describes the roots, locations and operation of individual CR groups throughout Scotland. By analysing the practice of CR and looking at the debates and discussions of local groups, the way the WLM developed and operated can be better understood. The theory of CR was first developed in the 1960s by women's liberation activists involved in the New York radical feminist group called Redstockings. The centrality of anger to CR discussions meant that women's liberation theory and practice differed from other women's groups, placing more emphasis on liberation and the personal and emotional aspects of politicisation. In the early days CR was warmly welcomed and widely adopted by women's liberation groups throughout the United Kingdom.
The influence of women's liberation ideas can be seen in debates focused on abortion during the 1970s. Abortion was not only a priority for women's groups but was also ranked as an important campaign by trade unions, the Labour Party and other groups and movements on the left of the political spectrum. As Drude Dahlerup has contended, 'the issue of abortion was to the new women's movement of the 1970s what the suffrage issue had been to the feminist movement around the turn of the century'. Forming one part of the international movement for abortion rights, National Abortion Campaign (NAC) was formed in 1975 and aimed to 'build a mass national campaign on the basis of a woman's right to choose'. The Catholic Church became a particular focus for frustration for the Women's liberation movement (WLM) in Scotland.
This chapter outlines the theoretical and practical responses to the issue of violence against women. Women's Aid (WA) was effective in expanding the reach of 1970s feminism. Internationally the women's liberation movement (WLM) played a leading role in theorising the issue of violence against women. Reclaim the Night (RTN) was a direct challenge to the commonly held argument that to avoid sexual assault women should remain indoors and avoid walking alone at night. RTN was also an effective method in mobilising women in other towns outside of the main urban centres of women's liberation politics. Inspired by the work of WA supporters, feminists established a Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) network in Scotland. RCC campaigners also tried to combat myths about rape. Although violence against women activists had been influenced by revolutionary feminist thinking, most of their actions were more directly aligned to a reformist agenda.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book shows that there was a lively cadre of feminists, who aligned themselves with the women's liberation movement (WLM). It also shows that women's liberation had a much wider appeal, influencing women in many parts of Britain. The book asserts that the fragmentation of the movement cannot be entirely explained by the emergence of political divisions and seeks a reassessment of the reasons given for fragmentation. It demonstrates that more generally many feminist activists wanted to move beyond theorising and towards practical action. The book outlines some of the major debates and discussions which the WLM confronted in the 1970s. It also demonstrates that future research into the WLM must acknowledge the usefulness of looking at its impact in different areas of the United Kingdom.
This chapter analyses the connections between the revolutionary left and the women's liberation movement (WLM) between the late 1960s and the early 1980s. Women's liberation groups sprung up all over the country so that by 1972 all the large towns in Britain had such a group. The chapter examines the possibilities of a genuinely socialist-feminist movement. The initial euphoria of the WLM had subsided and the last ever national conference in 1978 was dominated by acrimonious feuding between socialist-feminist and radical/revolutionary feminists. Besides consciousness-raising (CR), the group threw itself into many other WLM activities and was associated with the London Women's Liberation Workshop. To explore the subjectivity of women's accounts, the most appropriate methodology is oral history, which gives voice to people whose accounts might not otherwise be known. Oral history is necessarily a process of public self-reflection and performance.