'What Does a Socialist Woman Do?' Birth control and the body politic in Naomi Mitchison's We Have Been Warned

Dougall, Mara (2021) 'What Does a Socialist Woman Do?' Birth control and the body politic in Naomi Mitchison's We Have Been Warned. The Cambridge Quarterly, 50 (1). pp. 18-37. ISSN 1471-6836

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    Abstract

    This article examines Naomi Mitchison's most contentious novel – We Have Been Warned (1935). Mitchison's uncommon depiction of sex and contraception in the 1930s scandalised her publishers and public alike, whilst raising a number of important feminist concerns. Comparing the novel with Mitchison's historical fiction and nonfiction – which tackled similar themes – illustrates how politicised contemporary contexts, embodied narratives, and everyday idiom made We Have Been Warned the more provocative. Largely ignored by readers, critics, and even the censors, the novel could find its ideal audience today, as women continue to confront the political and environmental factors shaping and informing reproductive choices.