'Nature takes no notice of morality': Singleness and married love in interwar Britain

Holden, K. (2002) 'Nature takes no notice of morality': Singleness and married love in interwar Britain. Women's History Review, 11 (3). pp. 481-504. ISSN 0961-2025 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/6772

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09612020200200332


This article draws attention to the dominance of marriage during the twentieth century and the strain this institution was, and still is, under. This is achieved by focusing upon the single as a problematic category in the context of interwar Britain through an examination of the writings of Marie Carmichael Stopes, one of the leading experts on marriage, and her single correspondents. There are clear contradictions in Stopes's writings, which she was unable to acknowledge, between sex as a normal healthy appetite which it could be dangerous to suppress and the denial of a sex life to the single. These are shown to have had the potential to destabilise marriage as the only site of legitimate reproduction and sexual relations. Examining the differences between her advice to single men and women also exposes the gender divide in relation to the concept of sublimation and the difficulties inherent in the concept of substitute mother as a stable and coherent identity for the single woman. The article concludes by making links between the position of single men and women in the early twentieth century and today.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This article appears in a special issue of Women's History Review, 'Heartland and Periphery: local, national and global perspectives on women's writing', edited by Katherine Holden herself with Professor June Hannam, also of UWE.
Uncontrolled Keywords:interwar Britain, marriage, love, singleness
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education
Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education > Department of Arts and Cultural Industries
ID Code:6772
Deposited By: R. Upload account
Deposited On:22 Jan 2010 15:13
Last Modified:16 Nov 2016 01:02

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