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Stella Browne

John Simkin

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Stella Browne was an active member of the Freewoman Discussion Circles. Talks included Edith Ellis (Some Problems of Eugenics), Rona Robinson (Abolition of Domestic Drudgery), C. H. Norman (The New Prostitution), Huntley Carter (The Dances of the Stars) and Guy Aldred (Sex Oppression and the Way Out). Other active members included Grace Jardine, Harriet Shaw Weaver, Edmund Haynes, Harry J. Birnstingl, Charlotte Payne-Townshend Shaw, Rebecca West, Havelock Ellis, Lily Gair Wilkinson, Françoise Lafitte-Cyon and Rose Witcup.

In 1913 Stella Browne, joined forces with George Ives, Edward Carpenter, Magnus Hirschfeld and Laurence Housman to establish the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology. The papers she gave to the society, included "The sexual variety and variability among women and their bearing upon social reconstruction" (1915).

Browne published Studies in Female Inversion in 1918: "This problem of feminine inversion is very pressing and immediate, taking into consideration the fact that in the near future, for at least a generation, the circumstances of women's lives and work will tend, even more than at present, to favor the frigid (sexually repressed) and next to the frigid, the inverted types. Even at present, the social and affectional side of the invert's nature has often fuller opportunity of satisfaction than the heterosexual woman's, but often at the cost of adequate and definite physical expression. I think it is perhaps not wholly uncalled-for, to underline very strongly my opinion that the homosexual impulse is not in any way superior to the normal; it has a fully equal right to existence and expression, it is no worse, no lower; but no better."

According to her biographer, Lesley A. Hall: "Browne emphasized the need for women to speak about their own experiences. In both principle and practice Stella was a convinced believer in free love, known to have had various lovers, certainly some male, and possibly some female, though these cannot be reliably identified."

Browne, a member of the Malthusian League, campaigned strongly for birth control and abortion. She was also a member of the Divorce Law Reform Union, the No-Conscription Fellowship, the Humanitarian League, the Fabian Society, the Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain.


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