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Sexuality and Abortion


  1. Why was “free abortion on demand” so central to the politics of the Women’s Liberation Movement?
  2. Why did some feminists (especially Black and working-class women) find this too narrow and argue instead for reproductive rights?
  3. What was ‘the myth of the vaginal orgasm’?
  4. Why did feminists see sexual pleasure and liberation as a source of political power?

Core Reading

Lynne Segal, Making Trouble: Life and Politics (2008), chapter 2 (digitised) and chapter 3 (ebook).

S. Brooke, Sexual Politics: Sexuality, Family Planning and the British Left from the 1880s to the Present Day (2011) [chapter 7] digitised

Further Reading

S. Rowbotham, The Past is Before Us: Feminism in Action Since the 1960s (1989) [Part 2. ‘Fertility and Desire’]

Nicole Jackson, 'A Black Woman's Choice: Depo-Provera and Reproductive Rights', Journal of Research on Women and Gender 2:2 (2011) [open access]

V. Seal, Whose Choice? Working-Class Women and the Control of Fertility (1990)

Sue O’Sullivan, A Spare Rib Reader: Women’s Health (1987)

Boston Women’s Health Collective, Our Bodies, Our Selves (first edition, 1971 or 1973) [chapters 2, 3, 10]

Sjoo, ‘A Woman’s Right Over Her Body’, in M. Wandor (ed.), The Body Politic: Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain 1969-1972 (1972), 180-188

Pat Whitling, ‘Female Sexuality: It’s Political Implications’ in M. Wandor (ed.), The Body Politic: Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain 1969-1972 (1972), 189-214

Ros Baxandall & L. Gordon, Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2000) [Part 2]

L. Hoggart, Feminist Campaigns for Birth Control and Abortion Rights in Britain (2004)

McBride Stetson, ‘Women’s Movements Defence of Legal Abortion in Great Britain’, in D. McBride Stetson, Abortion Politics, Women’s Movements and the Democratic State: A Comparative Study of State Feminism (2001), 135-156

Coote & B. Campbell, Sweet Freedom: The Struggle for Women’s Liberation (1982) [chapter 8 ‘Sex’]

Jacqueline Laks Gorman, The Modern Feminist Movement: Sisters Under the Skin (2011) [for US perspective] ebook in library [chapter 6 ‘Health and Sexuality’]

Jennifer Nelson, Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement (2003)[For the US perspective] ebook in library