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Twentieth Century Britain and Women

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Cunningham claims that it was not until the late nineteenth century that the term ‘leisure’ began to be employed more widely to refer to the non – work time of the mass of people. (Hugh Cunningham (1980) The discovery of leisure during the wartime held a lot of political and cultural significance in Britain’s democracy and society and reflected the instability faced by women at home and at work. Due to industrialization, the modern home was introduced to a score of labor-saving devices that ‘liberated many full and part-time house-wives and mothers, providing them with more leisure’. (Burns, Leisure in the Modern World, ch. 3. Cutten, The Threat of Leisure, pp. 26 – 27)
It was during this wartime period that women made frequent visits to public houses during their leisure time and consumed alcohol at an exceedingly alarming rate. The study of public house drinking by women posed a real challenge. An interview was carried out that involved twenty – three working-class and middle-class women where “pub visiting was rarely mentioned as a form of leisure activity”. (C. Langhamer, 2000) These women of both the working – class and lower middle – class stated that women who were young and unmarried hardly looked upon the pub as a place of leisure.
On the other hand, the middle – class women had a harsh attitude towards female drinkers. They were of the opinion that if a female visited a pub, they were considered to be prostitutes. But besides these assertions, there were definitely glimpses of women visiting pubs with their friends, husbands or even their boyfriends. Therefore the attitude towards female drinking during the Second World War is a highly contested problem.
In a study undertaken by Andrew Davies on Leisure, Gender and Poverty – Working-class&nbsp.Culture in Salford and Manchester, 1900 – 1939, he asserted that while most of the men in Salford drank, the women remained at home.&nbsp.