Men, women's liberation and guilt c. 1970-1990: thoughts on the history of emotions

Lucy Delap (Cambridge)
24 March 2016

Feminism posed powerful political and emotional challenges to progressive men in the 1970s and 1980s. In this paper, Lucy Delap investigates politically and personally motivated attempts to ‘feel differently’ by men in Britain who identified as ‘anti-sexist’ and aligned themselves with the Women’s Liberation Movement. This rescripting of emotions was a central way in which both men and women felt that gender change might be achieved. Through exploring emotions of guilt and shame, she will discuss the concept of the male gaze, and its political and emotional impact on progressive men. Methodologically, this raises the question of how to historicise inner states which may leave few traces. Oral history sources can provide us with extraordinarily rich sources in thinking about emotions. However, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches are needed to read affects as entities that exceed what can be said, and to uncover the emotional lexicon of gesture and gaze.

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