chapter  4
23 Pages

Women in Industrial Protest

WithMalcolm I. Thomis, Jennifer Grimmett

The friendly societies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were defensive institutions of self-protection rather than aggressive ones of protest, yet they did have some part to play in the developing capacity of women to organise themselves and to respond to their economic situation. The friendly societies were obsessively devoted to rooting out sin but were also concerned to entertain their members and make their own lives more enjoyable. In Wolverhampton, regular dinners were held where women were initiated into the organisation prior to an evening of 'dancing, humour, and conviviality'. Apart from male opposition, there are two other principal reasons why women's industrial organisation made little headway in the first half of the nineteenth century. The first is the nature of women's work. The other great inhibiting factor was the existing social stereo type, the woman whose place was in the home.