Volume 22, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



This article explores communists’ attitudes towards gender roles and sexuality in Britain and the Netherlands during the Cold War (ca. 1948–1970). It looks at the changing roles of women in the communist movement in the public sphere, as well as the changes in practices of gender relations in the communist home—that is, the private sphere. This article, which is based on interviews with Dutch and British individuals raised in communist families, argues that communist children who were taught progressive theories while simultaneously witnessing traditional practices in the home were spurred to feminist thinking and so joined the movement in its early stages. In light of these findings, this article makes the case for the inclusion of communists in the vanguard of feminism in Britain and the Netherlands.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Andrews, G.(2004). Endgames and new times: The final years of British communism 1964–1991. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  2. Blok, E.(1978). Loonarbeid van vrouwen in Nederland, 1945–1955. Nijmegen: SUN.
  3. Boekholt, P., & De Booy, E.(1987). Geschiedenis van de school in Nederland. Vanaf de middeleeuwen tot aan de huidige tijd. Assen: Van Gorcum.
  4. Bourke, J.(1994). Working-class cultures in Britain 1890–1960, gender, class, and ethnicity. London: Routledge.
  5. Brooke, S.(2012). Sexual politics: Sexuality, family planning, and the British Left from the 1880s to the present day. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. De Bruin, L.(1985). ‘Een vreemde eend in de bijt – Persoonlijke analyse van de NVB’. In Politiek en Cultuur, 45(9), 330–333.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bruley, S.(1986). Leninism, Stalinism, and the women’s movement in Britain, 1920–1939. New York: Garland Publishing Inc.
  8. Callaghan, J.(2003). Cold War, crisis and conflict – The CPGB 1951–68. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  9. Cliff, T.(1984). Class struggle and women’s liberation – 1640 to today. London: Bookmarks.
  10. Cohen, P.(1997). Children of the revolution. Communist childhood in Cold War Britain. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Davies, T.(1982). ‘What kind of woman is she? Women and Communist Party politics 1941–1955.’ In R.Brunt & C.Rowan (Eds.), Feminism, culture, and politics (pp. 85–108). London: Lawrence & Wishart.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. De Uilenspiegel
    De Uilenspiegel. (1953, December 26), 15.
  13. De Uilenspiegel
    De Uilenspiegel. (1954a, February 6), 10.
  14. De Uilenspiegel
    De Uilenspiegel. (1954b, February 13), 10.
  15. De Uilenspiegel
    De Uilenspiegel. (1954c, February 27), 10.
  16. Engels, F.(1884)Origin of the family, private property and the state (Rev. ed. 2010). London: Penguin Classics.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Galesloot, H., & Legêne, S.(1986). Partij in het verzet: De CPN in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Amsterdam: Pegasus.
  18. Groag Bell, S., & Offen, K.M.(1983). Women, the family, and freedom – The debate in documents, Vol. Two 1880–1950. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Jeugd
    Jeugd, Orgaan van het Algemeen Nederlands Jeugdverbond, 27. (1971/1972).
  20. Kennedy, J.(1995). Nieuw Babylon in aanbouw. Nederland in de jaren zestig. Amsterdam: Boom.
  21. Linehan, T.(2007). Communism in Britain, 1920: From the cradle to the grave. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  22. Middendorp, C.P.(1974). ‘Culturele veranderingen in Nederland, 1965–1970.’Intermediair, 10(11), 1–9.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Morgan, K., Cohen, C., & Flinn, A, (2007). Communists and British society 1920–1991: People of a special mould. London: River Oram Press.
  24. Reay, D.(2017). Miseducation: Inequality, education, and the working classes. Bristol: Policy Press.
  25. Samuel, R.(2006). The lost world of British communism. London: Verso.
  26. Schofield, M.(1965). The sexual behaviour of young people. London: Longmans, Green and Co.
  27. Schrevel, M.(2004). ‘Rode luiers, Hollands fabrikaat. Communistische gezinnen in de jaren vijftig’. In Holland Historisch Tijdschrift, 36(4), 327–352.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Schuster, A.(1971). ‘Women’s role in the Soviet Union: Ideology and reality’. The Russian Review, 30(3), 260–267.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Schuyt, C.J.M., & Taverne, E.(2000). 1950. Welvaart in zwart-wit. Den Haag: Sdu Uitgevers.
  30. Spencer, S.(2005). Gender, work and education in Britain in the 1950s. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
  31. Thorpe, A.(2000). ‘The membership of the CPGB, 1920–1945.’The Historical Journal, 43(3), 777–800.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Vermeij, R., & Raben, R.(1997). ‘De eigenwaarde van de vrouw. Mej. Mr. Marie Anne Tellegen en het Nederlandse Vrouwen Comité.’ In P.Luykx & P.Slot (Eds.), Een stille revolution?: Cultuur en mentaliteit in de lange jaren vijftig (pp. 89–109). Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Verrips, G.(1995). Dwars, duivels en dromend – De geschiedenis van de CPN 1938–1991. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans.
  34. Vrouwen: Maandblad van de Nederlandse Vrouwenbeweging
    Vrouwen: Maandblad van de Nederlandse Vrouwenbeweging, 25(5). (1971/1972).
  35. Waite, M.(1995). ‘Sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll (and communism) in the 1960s’. In N.Fishman & K.Morgan (Eds.), Opening the books, (pp. 195–110). London: Pluto Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Waite, M.(1995). ‘Sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll (and communism) in the 1960s’. In G.Andrews, N.Fishman, & K.Morgan (Eds.), Opening the books (pp. 210–224). London: Pluto Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Women and communism: Selections from the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin
    Women and communism: Selections from the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin(1950). London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  38. Wilson, E.(1980). Only halfway to paradise. Women in post-war Britain: 1945–1968. London: Travistock.
  39. Withuis, J.(1990). Opoffering en heroiek. De mentale wereld van een communistische Vrouwenorganisatie in naoorlogs Nederland 1946–1976. Amsterdam: Boom.
  40. Withuis, J.(1995). De Jurk van de kosmonaute. Over politiek, cultuur, en psyche. Amsterdam: Boom.
  41. Withuis, J.(2018). Raadselvader. Kind in de Koude Oorlog. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij.
  42. Wittebol, M.(1985). Vrouwen op herhaling. Een hernieuwde poging tot een communistische definiëring van vrouwenrechten. Vrouwenstrijd in de CPN tussen 1945–1960. Unpublished manuscript, University of Amsterdam. Available in Ger Verrips Archives, International Institute for Social History.
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): communism; family history; feminism; gender; sexuality; working-class history
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error