"It's Very Personal": Sex and Relationships on the Problem Pages c.1960-1990
The School of History’s Katrina Honeyman memorial lecture will take place on Thursday 23rd March, delivered by Prof. Tracey Loughran on the role of problem pages in the 1960s and 70s.
This is a free public talk in memory of Katrina Honeyman, who was Professor of Social and Economic History and an esteemed and beloved colleague in the School of History, University of Leeds for many years. Professor Honeyman was a distinguished historian of women, industrialisation and business history, as well as an active mentor to women, postgraduates and early career scholars within the School.
Guest lecturer Tracey Loughran is Professor of History at the University of Essex, she researches women’s emotional, psychological, and bodily health in late twentieth-century Britain. Her work tries to explore the experiences of groups often marginalised in traditional histories.
This lecture explores approaches to sex and relationships on problem pages between the 1960s and the 1990s, showing how and why agony aunts adapted to a changing society.
The late twentieth century saw dramatic changes in attitudes to sex and relationships. The Pill, the legalisation of abortion, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality opened up new possibilities for sexual behaviour. Rates of divorce and remarriage increased; sex outside marriage became more common. These shifts generated new possibilities, but also caused people much inner turmoil.
Millions looked to magazine problem pages to help them negotiate this new world – but agony aunts were also operating in uncharted waters. They had to navigate legal boundaries and editorial restrictions, appeal to readers at a time of declining magazines, and still offer responsible guidance. This lecture explores approaches to sex and relationships on problem pages between the 1960s and the 1990s, showing how and why agony aunts adapted to a changing society.
I hope this research resonates with anyone who has ever read a problem page - and anyone who has ever needed help with a problem.
Professor Loughran explained her interest in the role of advice pages in her teenage years, “As a child, I was fascinated by problem pages - in the teen magazines that my sister read, and in the women's magazines that my mum and nan read. Later in life, working on women's history, I realised that agony aunts provided emotional guidance to millions of people - but they were often laughed at rather than appreciated as sources of support to people who often had nowhere else to turn.
“I wanted to show what an important role these advisors had played in so many people's lives. I hope this research resonates with anyone who has ever read a problem page - and anyone who has ever needed help with a problem.”
Book a free place
The lecture will take place on Thursday 23rd March 2023. in Room 700 (first floor), Leeds Central Library, Calverley St. Arrival from 5.30pm; the lecture will begin at 6pm. Entry is free, but tickets must be reserved. Book your place through the Leeds Libraries website.
Image: Marjorie Proops, Daily Mirror advice columnist – Wikimedia commons