Nationalising Femininity: Culture, Sexuality and Cinema in World War Two Britain

Overview

World War II was unprecedented in the changes it demanded in the contours of British life. Work, the family, social policies and the media were all transformed, blurring the boundaries between private and public life and challenging class and gender divisions. In particular, women were called upon to play a range of new roles which threw into question traditional conceptions of femininity and national identity. What was the relationship between gender and nation when the waiting woman was displaced by the working...

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Overview

World War II was unprecedented in the changes it demanded in the contours of British life. Work, the family, social policies and the media were all transformed, blurring the boundaries between private and public life and challenging class and gender divisions. In particular, women were called upon to play a range of new roles which threw into question traditional conceptions of femininity and national identity. What was the relationship between gender and nation when the waiting woman was displaced by the working woman and homes were flattened by bombs? What happened to notions of femininity, sexual difference and class as women moved into the workplace and donned dungarees, military uniforms and utility clothing? Such questions are explored in this collection of essays which brings together the work of prominent feminist researchers in film, media studies and social history. Case studies examine competing definitions of feminism circulating in the cinema, women's magazines, social policies, government pamphlets, fashion and broadcasting.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Feminist researchers in film, media studies, and social history present 17 essays exploring such questions as the relation between gender and nation when waiting women were displaced by mobile women and homes were flattened by bombs; and what happened to notions of sexual difference and class as women moved into the workplace and donned dungarees, military uniforms, and utility clothing. Distributed in the US by St. Martin's Press. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780719042591
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1996
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures
Notes on the contributors
Acknowledgements
Introduction 1
1 Prologue: mobile femininity 13
2 'The girl that makes the thing that drills the hole that holds the spring ...': discourses of women and work in the Second World War 35
3 'Bombs don't discriminate!' Women's political activism in the Second World War 53
4 'So much money and so little to spend it on': morale, consumption and sexuality 70
5 Good wives and moral lives: marriage and divorce 1937-51 91
6 'Pulling our weight in the call-up of women': class and gender in British radio in the Second World War 109
7 Putting the black woman in the frame: Una Marson and the West Indian challenge to British national identity 119
8 Women's magazines: times of war and management of the self in Woman's Own 127
9 The Family Firm restored: newsreel coverage of the British monarchy 1936-45 140
10 Fashioning the feminine: dress, appearance and femininity in wartime Britain 152
11 Cinema culture and femininity in the 1930s 177
12 The years of total war: propaganda and entertainment 193
13 'An abundance of understatement': documentary, melodrama and romance 213
14 Disguises and betrayals: negotiating nationality and femininity in three wartime films 230
15 The female audience: mobile women and married ladies 238
16 Stepping out or out of step? Austerity, affluence and femininity in two post-war films 257
17 Two weddings and two funerals: the problem of the post-war woman 264
Filmography 282
Bibliography 285
Index 299
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