Real politik or real politics? Working-class lesbians' political 'awareness' and activism

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This article is based upon my PhD research 'Working-class lesbians: classed in a classless climate', (2001-2004) which examined the significance of class and sexuality in the lives of women who self-identified themselves as working-class and lesbian. Here I look specifically at the women's political 'awareness' and activism, within a changing political climate that promotes notions of 'classless', yet in which classed conflict, processes, activism and responses remain apparent. I interconnect the inequalities of class and sexuality in the sphere of citizenship - both sexual and otherwise - looking at Section 2a/28 as a particular site of contested sexual citizenship, yet where the significance of class was apparent in many ways. For example, the economic resources mobilised by anti-repeal protestors were highly relevant, as was the ownership of social connections and forms of capital, which bestowed confidence and entitlement [Skeggs, Beverly (1995). Women's Studies in the 1990's. Entitlement Cultures and Institutional Constraints. Women's Studies International Forum, 18(4): 475-485]. This, I suggest, was utilised and actively mobilised by both pro- and anti-repeal protesters, whose members, as potential and actual sexual citizens were able to occupy and argue for social positions legitimated as 'normal', as 'respectable'-and in doing so made their classed investments and forms of protest apparent. I point to the many ways that interviewees were politically aware-they had opinions and beliefs to express, especially around 'past' and present class struggles, but rarely did these achieve political credibility; rarely were their concerns easily assimilable or respectably mainstream.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-494
Number of pages11
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2005


  • working-class lesbians
  • political awareness


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