Matchwoman or vampire?




We are back LIVE at UCL Anthropology dept on Tues Mar 7 with Dr Louise Raw delivering a Special Lecture for International Women’s Day:

‘Matchwoman or vampire? Strikes, sisterhood and the Victorian fear of female sexuality’.

When the Bryant and May Matchwomen went on strike in 1888, it caused outrage. A ‘respectable’ woman’s place was in the home, not the picket line! Bad enough these ‘rough girls’ were working outside the domestic sphere, without them also rebelling against their ‘gentlemen’ employers. Their walk-out stirred fears of revolution — the mob as at the gates, in the form of 1400 women and girls in threatening hats (Too bright! Too many feathers!), parading the streets of Bow singing rude songs about their bosses.

Behind the opprobrium directed at them and ‘factory lasses’ in general, lay a disturbed, and disturbing conceptualisation, and fear, of female sexuality. This would lead to a horrific ‘trade’ in virginity, bizarre anti-sex aids – and, eventually and unintentionally, to the birth of the Hollywood ‘vamp’…

LIVE and on ZOOM, sign into eventbrite please.

Louise Raw says: ‘I am an activist historian; and I think all historians should be. Our job allows us to trace the development of the false doctrines and prejudices used to control and divide the majority of us. Whether it’s racism, classism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism or myths about the Great British Empire, I think it’s our responsibility to use what we learn to help people fight back.

When not writing, or teaching lovely Americans undergraduates in London, I speak at anti fascist and anti racist protests. I also sometimes bring the kind of history I love to shows like Who Do You Think You Are, DNA Journey and The Victorian Slum, and to Radio 4 and BBC Radio London. I’m the author of Striking a Light about the 1888 Matchwomen’s Strike, and co-author of Class and Gender in British Labour History, and Voice and Vote: Celebrating 100 Years of Votes for Women.