Feminism And Motherhood In Western Europe, 1890-1970

Overview

Ann Taylor Allen shows how feminists in Western Europe defined a new dilemma: how could the modern woman find fulfillment both as a mother and as an autonomous, self-determining individual? This is a comparative and transnational history that focuses on Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and includes many other Western European countries. Among the major themes are the changing forms of the family, new psychological theories of the mother-child relationship, the rights and duties of mothers as ...
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Overview

Ann Taylor Allen shows how feminists in Western Europe defined a new dilemma: how could the modern woman find fulfillment both as a mother and as an autonomous, self-determining individual? This is a comparative and transnational history that focuses on Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and includes many other Western European countries. Among the major themes are the changing forms of the family, new psychological theories of the mother-child relationship, the rights and duties of mothers as citizens, the many ways in which states attempted to control and to manipulate reproduction and child-rearing, and feminists' visions of motherhood as the free choice of a free woman.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is an ambitious, deeply researched, comparative history of how feminists have addressed the 'maternal dilemma'."  - European History Quarterly
 
"How did maternal destiny morph into a "maternal dilemma"? To some 21st century readers, the pairing of feminism and motherhood may seem contradictory. Ann Allen's accomplishment is to dispell that seeming contradiction by unearthing a rich and important series of feminist debates about motherhood, which she then analyzes within a comparative, transnational framework. From the 1880s to 1970, progressive women and men throughout western Europe addressed the benefits and handicaps imposed on women as mothers in male-controlled economies and nation-states. They came up with very radical answers and creative, sometimes conflicting solutions that had the potential to empower mothers independently of husbands and fathers or to establish egalitarian male-female partnerships, in either case seriously threatening the prevailing male legal and economic hegemony. Can one then be surprised that their woman-centered proposals stirred up serious opposition? Can one wonder that, subsequently, their ideas about constructing woman-friendly welfare states became distorted in application, before being threatened (as is the case today) with dismemberment? Allen's book is exceedingly important for understanding the history of European nations precisely because it insists on the centrality of gender and the politics of reproduction to "mainstream" history. It illuminates today's ongoing debates, including those in the United States, about the "dilemma" women still face in trying to combine family and employment within the "clockwork of the male career," as Arlie Hochschild once put it. It likewise provides rich background for understanding the current controversies that swirl around popular novels that resuscitate the "female principle,"such as The Da Vinci Code. To read this book is truly to experience an "Ah Haa!"moment."—Karen Offen, Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Stanford University
 

"In this outstanding addition to the burgeoning new history of motherhood, Ann Taylor Allen explores the "motherhood dilemmna" faced by modern women, families, and states. Grounded in thorough knowledge of multiple national histories, feminist movements, and intellectual trends, this book is filled with important information and interesting tales that show how women have faced and sought to resolve conflicts between their responsibilities as mothers and as rights-bearing individuals. The history of motherhood belongs as a topic on every syllabus in women's history and cultural studies, and this book shows why."—Marilyn J. Boxer, Professor of History Emerita, former Vice-President of Academic Affairs, San Francisco State University.
 

“This book is an ambitious, deeply researched, comparative history of how feminists have addressed the ‘maternal dilemma’. The ‘maternal dilemma’ for Ann Taylor Allen comprises the question: ‘Is it possible to be both a mother and an autonomous individual?’ This book is exciting and new because of its wide-ranging sources and broad, comparative focus, which includes England, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands and elsewhere. This is a western European history in the fullest sense and it indicates an impressive command of many histories and historiographical questions.”—European History Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230602328
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Taylor Allen is Professor of History at the University of Louisville. She has served on the editorial board of the Jourbanal of the History of Sexuality, History of Education Quarterly and is the author of Feminism and Motherhood in Germany, 1800-1914, and contributed a piece on the international kindergarten movement in Kindergartens and Cultures.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : from destiny to dilemma - motherhood in the twentieth century 1
1 "Aeons of wrong" : mothers in prehistory and history 19
2 From patriarchy to partnership : feminism, motherhood, and the law in Western Europe, 1890-1914 41
3 Employment or endowment? : the dilemma of motherhood, 1890-1914 63
4 "The right of the child to choose its parents" : motherhood and reproductive responsibility in the prewar era 87
5 "The value of babies" : mothers, children, and the state in wartime, 1914-1918 111
6 The double burden : marriage, motherhood, and employment in the interwar years 137
7 "Conscious motherhood" : birth control, eugenics, and the pursuit of happiness in the interwar era 161
8 "The right to be happy" : feminism and child-rearing during the interwar years 187
9 From motherhood to sex roles : the postwar era, 1945-1970 209
Conclusion : a continuing dilemma 235
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