Social Context / Legislation
• The first baby conceived via in vitro fertilisation (Louise Brown) is born in Britain.
• Braine Anti-Abortion Bill.
“The bill proposes to fix the upper time limit for abortion at 20 weeks (instead of 28) and to expand the ‘conscience clause’ so that doctors and nurses don’t have to give their reasons for opting out, cut the links between referral agencies and clinics […] and make abortion clinics responsible for the actions of all their staff, so that one person’s mistake would be an excuse for closing down the clinics.” (WIRES 1978, 46 p. 5)
• The ‘Normal Household Duties Test’ is created.
This test deprives disabled married women of some benefits as they are required to prove not only their inability to work in a paid job, but also that they are incapable of doing housework in order to receive those benefits.
~ National Women’s Liberation Movement Conference, Birmingham
Two strands: How are we oppressed, and how do we oppress each other? Issues: The Seventh Demand and the splitting of the Sixth Demand.
“[There were] two strands to the conference … and I still think that was quite a good suggestion really, but the revolutionary feminist group in London were not keen on the ‘how do we oppress each other’ angle and the socialist feminists didn’t like the ‘who oppresses us’ and I think the groups that felt particularly oppressed themselves just wanted to concentrate on that. So there were all these different elements and then there was this mass of women who always pour in to a conference, so it was a right old mixture. ” (Garthwaite OHP Interview No. 7)
The Seventh Demand:
7. We demand freedom for all women from intimidation by the threat or use of violence or sexual coercion regardless of marital status; and an end to the laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and aggression to women. (Full list of demands in Appendix I)
The Seventh Demand is about violence against women. Portions of the proposed demand are dropped before its passage, notably a phrase that stated that men are responsible for women’s oppression; “Male violence against women is an expression of male supremacy and political control of women”. This is rejected by a majority vote.
At issue is the definition of the source of women’s oppression, which becomes polarised into issues of political alignment and identification. Radical and revolutionary feminists argue on the basis of sex class, stating that all women are oppressed as a class, regardless of where they are placed in other social structures. Socialist feminists of varying types argue for the continued relevance of economic class and the need to overthrow capitalism in tandem with women’s liberation and not as a separate struggle from it, along with continuing debates around the importance or non importance of Marxist ideas. Discussions become quite heated as questions of sexuality and sexual identification are included and calls are made to split the sixth demand, making it focus solely on an end to discrimination against lesbians and moving the other portion to a preface, in order to categorise it as an overall assumption behind the demands as a whole.
This is the last National WLM Conference. Despite economic resources, no group offers to organise a conference the following year. Following this, all conferences are regional, identity based, and/or topical.
“The difficulties we have talking to each other, sharing experiences, analysing ideas, and discussing our differences, were horribly fit up at the Birmingham Conference … it is clear that the polarization and hostilities that emerged left many women feeling outsiders, and demoralized.” (Catcall Collective 1979: 2)
~ Scottish National women’s Liberation Conference, Edinburgh
~ Welsh National Women’s Liberation Conference, Cardiff
~ All Birmingham Women’s Liberation Conference
~ (Second) London Area Women’s Liberation Conference
~ Midlands Regional Women’s Liberation Conference, Shrewsbury
~ South West Regional Women’s Liberation Conference, Bristol (1)
~ South West Regional Women’s Liberation Conference, Plymouth (2)
~ West Yorkshire Regional Women’s Liberation Conference, Bradford
~ Communism and Feminism Conference, Leeds
~ Midlands Region Socialist Feminist Racism and Fascism Conference, Birmingham
~ Scottish Socialist Feminist Conference, Glasgow
~ Socialist Feminist Conference, Manchester
Radical / Revolutionary Feminist
~ Radical Feminist Conference on Theories of Revolution, Brighton
~ Revolutionary Feminists London Region Conference
On: What is Male Supremacy?
~ Scottish Radical Feminist Conference/ Camp, Kelty
Sexuality / Sexual Politics
~ Bisexuality and the Women’s Liberation Movement Conference, London
~ Women and Sexuality, Leeds
Violence Against Women
~ Conference on Violence in the Family, Bradford
~ Domestic Violence Act Conference, London
~ WAF(E) National Conference, Manchester
~ South Wales Rape Crisis Group Conference, Trefforest
~ Violence Against Women: Towards a 7th Demand, Yorkshire Regional Conference, York
~ WAR National Conference (WFH), London
~ Welsh Women’s Aid Conference, Cardiff
~ Women’s Aid Structure Conference, Birmingham
~ Women’s Liberation Anti Rape Conference, Bristol
~ Conference for Women Teachers (SWP), Manchester
~ Maternity Rights (NALGO), London
~ Pregnancy, Maternity Rights and the Trade Unions, London
~ Women in Manual Trades Conference, Sheffield
~ Women in Manual Trades National Conference, London
~ Women Writer’s Conference, London
~ Women’s Working Charter Campaign (WWCC) Conference, Birmingham
~ WWCC National Conference, Hull
~ WWCC Conference, Manchester
~ Association of Radical Midwives Conference, London
~ Black Women Speak Out (NAC), London
~ National Abortion Campaign National Conference, Sheffield
NAC call for abortion on demand without regard to month of termination, in response to an Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) supported bill that would allow such restrictions. This highlights their single issue focus (Jackson 1978).
~ Pregnancy Testing Conference, Cambridge
~ Trade Union Conference on Abortion (NAC), London
~ Anarcha Feminist Conference, Manchester
~ Action Against Sexism in Education,Manchester
~ Conference on Health and Illness concerning Women, Essex
~ Country Women’s Conference, Storridge
~ Feminist Papers Conference, Manchester
~ Feminist Therapists Training Conference, London
~ National Education Conference on Teachers Against the Nazis, London
~ National Youth Conference for Girls, (two locations) Avon Tyrrell & Manchester
~ Self Help Therapy Conference, Castle Douglas
~ Women Against Nukes Conference, Bradford
~ Women Against Racism and Fascism, London
~ Women’s Conference (Methodist Church), London
~ Women and Creativity, London
~ Women and Depression Conference, Watford
~ Women, Health and Illness, Colchester
~ Women and Housing Co-operatives, London
~ Women and Ireland, Liverpool
~ Women and the Law, London
~ Women and Social Security (NCCL/ Child Poverty Action Group / Campaign for Legal and Financial Independence), London
~ YBA (Why be a) Wife Conference, Nottingham
~ Yorkshire Conference on Ireland, Leeds
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