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Birth Control, Sex, and Marriage in Britain 1918-1960$
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Kate Fisher

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267361.001.0001

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‘The majority went back to withdrawal’ 1

‘The majority went back to withdrawal’ 1

(p.109) 3 ‘The majority went back to withdrawal’1
Birth Control, Sex, and Marriage in Britain 1918-1960

Kate Fisher (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter challenges the idea that by the interwar period, appliance methods of contraception were increasingly replacing ‘inefficient’, ‘unreliable’, and ‘unpleasant’ traditional forms. It counters the often-made assumption that improvements in birth control technology and their greater availability improved individuals' ability to control their fertility. Although appliance methods were increasingly employed, their use did not signal the rejection of traditional forms. Contemporary social surveys, in particular the findings of the Lewis-Faning study for the Royal Commission on Population, are shown to have been misinterpreted. These surveys failed to recognize that those who experimented with modern methods, such as female caps and condoms, frequently disliked them and reverted back to ‘natural’ methods such as abstinence, abortion, and withdrawal.

Keywords:   abstinence, social surveys, birth control clinics, Lewis-Faning, Royal Commission on Population, clinic attendance, class differences, regional differences, appliance methods, fertility

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