Rosalind Delmar discusses the WLM sixth demand



Rosalind Delmar talks about her disagreement with the sixth demand of the Women’s Liberation Movement and questions the need to define one’s own sexuality.

The sixth demand

The sixth demand of the Women’s Liberation Movement, passed at the national conference in Edinburgh in 1974, was for ‘the right to a self-defined sexuality. An end to discrimination against lesbians’. The first part of this was later split off and added as a preface to all the demands.

Do you think a person can define their sexuality? What is the point of defining one’s own sexuality? Do you think it could be limiting in any way?

How might gay, queer and trans liberation movements add to the debate?

Is your definition of yourself influenced by other people’s ideas about you?



At Edinburgh there was the right to define your own sexuality. I thought, how can you define yourself, because you don’t see everything about yourself. Other people’s view of you has got to be taken into account and listened to and thought about. None of us is self-defining. It was kind of both intellectual and emotional, didn’t make sense to me as a demand.

What was the debate like over that demand?

Oh, it was a very antagonistic debate. I mean that’s why I think that the rock was the rock of difference, not disagreement, that people, differences kind of became moral problems. It wasn’t just that you thought one way or you thought another way; it was that you were right or wrong, very quickly. I felt it was hatred, at one of the conferences against bisexuals. People had to choose, they had to be one or the other. They couldn’t be both. But it is interesting that sexuality kind of very quickly became a very problematic area within the Women’s Movement.

Rosalind Delmar discusses the WLM sixth demand
15 September - 1 October 2010
Sound recording
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
© British Library
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The Women’s Liberation Movement organised eight national conferences, starting in Oxford in 1970, where the first demands were made. Read the complete list of seven demands and learn how they helped shape the movement.

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