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Empowerment or Endurance?

  • Hester Vaizey
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Abstract

‘Despite men’s admiration for their working wives, husbands don’t want to come home to a secretary, a teacher, a politician, a governess or a shop keeper — he wants to come home to nothing other than his wife.’1 This was the advice given to women in Das Blatt der Hausfrau magazine in July 1949. As men were conscripted into the Armed Forces, more and more wives were left to manage their families alone. At the same time more wives than ever were taking up paid employment to fill the gaps in the market left by their soldier-husbands. Magazine articles like this one encouraged women to stick to traditional conceptions of gender roles, with women being above all wives and mothers. This, they suggested, would be best for marital harmony upon reunion. But had women’s wartime experiences changed their views on being consigned to the home?2 And if so, what would this mean when husbands returned from war or captivity expecting to resume familial authority? Were families reunited after wartime separation battlegrounds between partners? Overall then, we are looking to understand how, if at all, the Second World War changed a wife’s role. And what did this mean for the balance of power between husbands and wives?

Keywords

Gender Role Social History Traditional Conception Gender Study Modern History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Hester Vaizey 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hester Vaizey
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Toepfer StiftungHamburgGermany

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