chapter  10
20 Pages

The feminist solution

No issue has aroused more passion, controversy and crisis anlongst women than the body - more specifically, the abuses of the body. Barrett describes it as 'a central political concern of the women's movement' (1980, p.44). Prior to the war women had only limited redress against rape and domestic violence and virtually no control over their fertility. Their bodies were, in a real sense, not their own. Biological differences do not explain inequalities but, as we noticed in Chapter 8, they lie at the source. Women, being biologically equipped to reproduce and physically less powerful than men, have in a way been appropriated by nlen, who have sought some degree of control over reproduction: in itself, a political nlotive. Women's vulnerability has been continually compounded by their inability to control their reproductive processes. What control there was came from the medical profession·,. the church and the state, all male-dominated institutions. But developments in the postwar period made it at least technically possible for women to capture some influence over their own reproductive functions, and to protect thenlselves nlore effectively, if only in a legal sense, from violence.