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What Were The Fascist Aims And Methods Used Towards Women And Why Did These Aims Often Fail? Discuss.

1090 words - 4 pages

The Fascist attitude towards women was rather conservative and can be seen as very sexist. They considered women to be the "angels of the hearth" who would stay home to take care of the house and the children, of whom they were supposed to have as many as possible so that the regime's demographic ambitions could be achieved. In Mussolini's own words, "Child bearing is woman s natural and fundamental role in life. Women should be exemplary wives and mothers, guardians of the hearth, and subject to the legitimate authority of their husbands". As Evans says, he saw women's primary function as to procreate and manage the family functions."Women must obey...my idea of her role in the state is in opposition to all feminism. Naturally she shouldn't be a slave, but if I conceded her the vote, I'd be laughed at. In our state, she must not count." Most historians feel that this policy towards women became part of the fascist ideology for two reasons the first being that lower and middle class men felt threatened by the increase in women in workplaces. Also, unemployment was high. Mussolini realised that if he could get the women out of the workplace, he could reduce unemployment. Another reason for this discriminatory policy was the Vatican's view of women. The Catholic Church's view of women was as subordinate to men and it preached very rigid gender roles.One of Mussolini's main aims when it came to his policy towards women was to increase the population of Italy. As Dena Renetti mentions, Italy was already overcrowded with 40 million people but Mussolini wanted a target of 20 million more people by 1950. Again, this was mainly due to his colonial interest. He believed that a greater population fulfill the needs of the army in order for greater territorial expansion. He took several measures in order to achieve his targets in this battle for births. Couples were exempted from marriage loans if they had more than four children and awards were given to mothers with more than 10 children. There were annual ceremonies celebrating the most prolific mothers. In 1933, 93 families had a total of 1300 children. And in 1939, mothers were awarded one silver bar for each child. This had mixed reactions towards it. A forty-year old mother after returning from one such prize ceremony , when asked about her future plans replied by saying, "I'll do it again". But as a Turin pediatrician reported, most working class mothers felt that they could not afford so many children. Also, according to a survey in 1937, most teenage girls between the ages of 14-18 did not want more than one or two children. Further, despite this, birth rate continued to decline.Women are also discouraged from higher education and employment. In 925, women are given the right to vote in local elections, but in 1926m local elections were abolished. Now, as women had no more vote, they played no role in the running of the country. Jobs for women were limited by the quota system. In the mid 1920s,...

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