Field Faring Women: The resistance of women who worked in the fields of nineteenth century England

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Abstract

In nineteenth-century England, women worked on farms at many different tasks. They frequently did laborious, repetitive work in the fields. In the 1860s this labour was defined as unfeminine by the middle class. The women who did it were described as unsexed and immoral. Working-class radicals took up and adopted this imagery in order to demand a male breadwinning wage when they fought their employers. However, the women also directly challenged their employers' authority and were frequently at odds with the development of that new male working-class respectability which stressed women's role as wives and mothers. This paper looks at the resistances of the field women and the response to their action by the radical, mainstream and feminist press of the second half of the nineteenth century. It highlights the complex relationship between class and gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
JournalWomen's History Review
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1993

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