How Fascism Ruled Women

Overview


"Italy has been made; now we need to make the Italians," goes a familiar Italian saying. Mussolini was the first head of state to include women in this mandate. How the fascist dictatorship defined the place of women in modern Italy and how women experienced the Duce's rule are the subjects of Victoria de Grazia's new work. De Grazia draws on an array of sources—memoirs and novels, the images, songs, and events of mass culture, as well as government statistics and archival reports. She offers a broad yet ...
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Overview


"Italy has been made; now we need to make the Italians," goes a familiar Italian saying. Mussolini was the first head of state to include women in this mandate. How the fascist dictatorship defined the place of women in modern Italy and how women experienced the Duce's rule are the subjects of Victoria de Grazia's new work. De Grazia draws on an array of sources—memoirs and novels, the images, songs, and events of mass culture, as well as government statistics and archival reports. She offers a broad yet detailed characterization of Italian women's ambiguous and ambivalent experience of a regime that promised modernity, yet denied women emancipation.

Always attentive to the great diversity among women and careful to distinguish fascist rhetoric from the practices that really shaped daily existence, the author moves with ease from the public discourse about femininity to the images of women in propaganda and commercial culture. She analyzes fascist attempts to organize women and the ways in which Mussolini's intentions were received by women as social actors. The first study of women's experience under Italian fascism, this is also a history of the making of contemporary Italian society.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This noteworthy study reveals how the regime of Il Ducein web , Benito Mussolini, systematically sought to prevent Italian women from experiencing emancipation even as he heralded the advent of the ``new Italian woman'' ( nuova italiana ). Analyzing the deep conflict between modernity and traditional patriarchal authority, de Grazia defines the emerging ideals of Italian womanhood in the 1920s and '30s when Catholic, Fascist and commercial models of conduct competed to shape women's perceptions of themselves and of their society. The author, who teaches history at Rutgers, has much to say about the quasi-religious cult of Ducismo, about Fascism's ``virilist'' politics and about the exaggerated machismo of a regime that taxed celibate men to pay for child welfare programs. The product of meticulous research and deep contemplation, the book is an important contribution to women's studies. Illustrations. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Extremely well researched and drawing upon a vast array of sources, this is the first full-length study of the experiences of women under Italian fascism. The author (history, Rutgers Univ.) places fascism's impact on women in the context of wider social, economic, and demographic changes arising out of World War I. Theorizing that Mussolini's government sought to ``nationalize'' women, she demonstrates how his regime affected women of different class, region, and occupation, how it contended with the Italian Catholic tradition, and how it used or created new kinds of social organizations to meet women's needs. De Grazia underscores that women were not simply passive victims of the dictatorship, however. Academics will be interested in the questions she provokes about women's experiences in mass politics in other European nations. For another book on Italian fascism, see Alexander Stille's Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism, reviewed in this issue, p. 95.--Ed.-- Marie Marmo Mul laney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520074576
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/11/1993
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Victoria de Grazia is Professor of History, Columbia University, and the author of The Culture of Consent: Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy (1981).
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Nationalization of Women 1
2 The Legacy of Liberalism 18
3 Motherhood 41
4 The Family Versus the State 77
5 Growing Up 116
6 Working 166
7 Going Out 201
8 Women's Politics in a New Key 234
9 There Will Come a Day 272
Notes 289
Index 339
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