Birth Control, Sex, and Marriage in Britain 1918-1960

Paperback | May 29, 2008

byKate Fisher

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The first half of the twentieth century witnessed a revolution in contraceptive behaviour as the large Victorian family disappeared. This book offers a new perspective on the gender relations, sexual attitudes, and contraceptive practices that accompanied the emergence of the smaller family inmodern Britain. Kate Fisher draws on a range of first-hand evidence, including over 190 oral history interviews, in which individuals born between 1900 and 1930 described their marriages and sexual relationships. By using individual testimony she challenges many of the key conditions that have longbeen envisaged by demographic and historical scholars as necessary for any significant reduction in average family size to take place. Dr Fisher demonstrates that a massive expansion in birth control took place in a society in which sexual ignorance was widespread; that effective family limitation was achieved without the mass adoption of new contraceptive technologies; that traditional methods, such as withdrawal, absitinence, andabortion were often seen as preferable to modern appliances, such as condoms and caps; that communication between spouses was not key to the systematic adoption of contraception; and, above all, that women were not necessarily the driving force behind the attempt to avoid pregnancy. Women frequentlyavoided involvement in family planning decisions and practices, whereas the vast majority of men in Britain from the interwar period onward viewed the regular use of birth control as a masculine duty and obligation. By allowing this generation to speak for themselves, Kate Fisher produces a richerunderstanding of the often startling social atttitudes and complex conjugal dynamics that lay behind the vast changes in contraceptive behaviour and family size in the twentieth century.

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The first half of the twentieth century witnessed a revolution in contraceptive behaviour as the large Victorian family disappeared. This book offers a new perspective on the gender relations, sexual attitudes, and contraceptive practices that accompanied the emergence of the smaller family inmodern Britain. Kate Fisher draws on a rang...

Kate Fisher is a Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.63 inPublished:May 29, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199544603

ISBN - 13:9780199544608

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Maintenance of Ignorance2. Deliberate Accidents and Casual Attempts to Avoid Pregnancy3. The Survival of Traditional Methods of Birth Control4. The Advantages of Traditional Methods of Birth Control5. Gender Relations and Birth Control PracticesConclusionEpilogueAppendixBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`'...the themes are well illustrated and well chosen [and] highly convincing...' 'Gigi Santow, Population Studies,