Karen Hunt. Equivocal feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the woman question, 1884-1911.

Biblioteca / 1990-1999

Karen Hunt. Equivocal feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the woman question, 1884-1911.

Cambridge University Press, 1996.



Part 1

The woman question: the theory

1 – The contribution of the founding fathers

The reception of ‘The Origin of the Family’ and ‘Woman and Socialism’ in the British socialist movement

2 – The SDF’s understanding of the woman question

The sex/class analogy

Woman’s oppression as a sex

Sexual equality

Nature or nurture?


Strategic implications of the woman question

3 – Understanding the SDF and the woman question

The paradoxical Mr Bax

Clara Zetkin, the International and internationalism

A comparative case: race

Part 2

The SDF and the woman question: the theory and practice of the party on aspects of the woman question

4 – The politics of the private sphere

Socialism and the family

Marriage and ‘free love’

The Lanchester Case

Beyond the Lanchester Case: the SDF’s response to ‘free love’ as a public issue

The Bedborough Case

The Potteries and ‘free love’

Wells and the Fabian Basis

The SDF and ‘free love’

5 – Women and work

Women’s work as an issue for the SDF

Protective legislation

Equal pay

Wages boards and minimum wage legislation

Trade unions

The endowment of motherhood: an alternative means to economic independence  

Women and unemployment: a woman’s right to work

6 – The suffrage

The years before the militants (1884-1905)

The polarisation of positions: limited women’s suffrage versus adult suffrage (1905-1907)

Adult suffrage as a socialist demand (1907-1911)

The suffrage and the woman question

Part 3

Women and the SDF: the practical implications o f the SDF’s understanding of the woman question

7 – The SDF’s attitude to women as potential socialists

Women as a problem for socialism

Socialism as a problem for women: barriers to participation

The SDF’s understanding of women’s politicisation

8 – Women SDFers and their role in the party

9 – The organisation of women within the SDF

Women’s right to self-organisation: the debate

SDF women’s organisation before 1904

Rochdale women’s section

The Women’s Socialist Circles (1904-11)

The development of the Circles

The function of the Circles

The organisational relationship between the Circles and the party

Northampton Women’s Circle

The practical implications of the SDF’s understanding of the woman question



A comparison between women on the Executives of the SDF and the ILP

A comparison between women delegates at SDF and ILP Annual Conferences

A graph of the number of local Women’s Socialist Circles, 1904-11

SDP Women’s Education Committee syllabus of subjects for discussion, 1910-11 262

Short biographies o f key figures