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Infidel feminismSecularism, religion and women's emancipation, England 1830–1914$
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Laura Schwartz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085826

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085826.001.0001

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Freethought and Free Love? Marriage, birth control and sexual morality

Freethought and Free Love? Marriage, birth control and sexual morality

(p.178) 6 Freethought and Free Love? Marriage, birth control and sexual morality
Infidel feminism

Laura Schwartz

Manchester University Press

This chapter discusses the influence of Freethought in the development of first-wave feminism, focusing on debates over marriage, birth control and sexual morality. It examines the tensions between feminism, Free Love and Freethought while showing that, despite these tensions, Freethought provided an intellectual framework in which it was possible to envisage a more radical transformation of heterosexual relations than the rest of the women's movement was willing to imagine. The Freethought renunciation of Christianity necessarily entailed a rejection of the moral authority of the Church, particularly its role in legitimising sexual relations. Secularists were therefore required to find a new basis for morality.

Keywords:   Freethought, first-wave feminism, birth control, sexual morality, secularism

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