Date of Award
Political culture -- France -- History, Reconstruction (1939-1951) -- France, Women -- France -- Social conditions -- 1945-, Women's rights -- France -- History
In the early 20th century, the reputation of Western nations as conductors of morality and progress was dismantled during a period that was categorized by turmoil and pandemonium created by the World Wars. World War II marked the zenith of this global crisis. France, in particular, suffered severe blows as a supreme power after the humiliating defeat to German forces eight months after WWII was declared. The defeat was followed by German Occupation throughout France and an ushering in of an authoritarian state known as the Vichy Régime. Following the war, French citizens were mobilized towards a political agenda that was targeted at reconstructing the French state that had endured significant devastations for four perpetual years (1940-44). I will analyze how women’s roles in society were impacted by the Liberation following WWII in France through an examination of the literature surrounding this topic and firsthand accounts outlining women’s perspective during and after the war. I will discuss women’s experience during the war in which many women became the sole guardian of the household and through this process adopted increased responsibilities as men were held as prisoners of war away from the home. In addition, I will then explore the implications of women’s enfranchisement granted in 1944 and the repercussions of shorn women (les femmes tondues) who were condemned for obtaining sexual collaborations with German officials during the context of the war. I argue that gender equality was not at the forefront of national reconstruction, which instead prioritized establishing a stable society upholding conservative gender roles. The intention of rebuilding the nation’s identity was to design a society that would not crumble under the pressures of cataclysmic events and avoid another surrender at the hands of the enemy through the creation a powerful nation. As a result, the period swiftly following the Liberation is described as a time of women’s stagnation towards equality because human rights were not considered essential for the rebuilding of the French state
Gougeon, Helena M., "France’s Liberation, Women’s Stagnation: France’s Societal Advancement Hindered by the Incarceration of Women to Traditional Gender Roles Following World War II" (2017). University Honors Theses. Paper 371.