HIS 2342 – Monday February 4 2013
- Shifts in gender roles. What it meant for European societies to have a loss of generation of
- After WWI most feminists were fighting for women rights to vote. They did in some but
not all European countries.
- In many cases there were restrictions based on property or age status.
- The natural result did not take place the way they might have wanted.
- Historians argue that gender is one of the prime spaces how Europeans express their view
of how the war changed the world.
- These changes were visible throughout elite cultures. We had three discerning images
across Europe in different cultural realms.
o Modern woman = New World
o Mother = Old World
o Single woman = combination of these two figures.
- The mother figure like the soldier is a woman that has sacrificed her children and husband
and her traditional role because she now works outside of her home. She has made
sacrifices. The figure of the mother is a figure of what has been lost.
- The war produced another image. The image of the mother as a nation, people should try
to return too. The mother is the equivalent of the soldier. She’s portrayed as the savior
whom stayed faithful to the country. It’s important to note that these gender extreme’s are
also extreme’s in class terms.
- The woman is seen as someone from the middle class or the upper middle class.
- The mother figure is usually dressed as someone from the lower classes.
- The mother is seen as responsible for the regeneration of the nation literally and
figuratively. She’s supposed to defend the values that need to be brought back into
society. She needs to produce more children to help the nation rebuild.
- The question of regenerating the nation was an important one during the inter-war years.
- We can divide these policies into two major camps. The first one if the movement for
contraception and regulated pregnancies.
- Germany, G-B and most of central eastern Europe:
o In these countries laws that allowed for abortion and contraception were passed if
they weren’t already accepted.
o Members from medical ranks. These doctors, politicians argued that in the after-
math of WWI it was important to encourage births of those that would lead to the
national rejuvenation of their country. Given the massive lost of life it was
necessary to encourage only the births that would rejuvenate the nation. Not every
birth was to be welcomed.
o In these countries that didn't suffer from depopulation leaders argued it was as
important to economic development to concentrate on social capital. Economic
capital was not the only thing that needed to be rebuilt.
o This led to active programs of sterilization where individuals were deemed unfit to
reproduce. In Poland in 1918 policies of sterilization were put in place.
o Those that were sterilized were often mental handicaps.
- The other model was the French model
o France had at that point Europe’s lowest population and needed to reproduce. o This movement never took off in France because of the need for a bigger
o French and immigration experts were concerned with ranking individuals in their
o Jews from Eastern Europe were not to be encouraged. They were seen as difficult
to assimilate into the French Nation.
o These immigration policies were the French response to eugenic policies made in
- Most of the artistic currents of the inter-war years fell under the general category were
already in place before WWI broke out.