Femininity and Fascism??

Owen Billo

The Marhoefer, Kuehne, and Lopez/Sanchez readings all offer examples of the different kinds of masculinity and femininity within the 20th century’s fascist states. Between the Kuehne and Lopez/Sanchez articles especially, we can see masculinity and femininity’s relationship to militarism, where both were present in the military in both men and women despite the hypermasculine nature of fascist militarism.

For example, the Nazis idealized the ‘political soldier,’ who had no trace of femininity, followed all orders, and had absolute loyalty to the political program of the regime. However, these men were still expected to maintain comradeship, which inherently has some traits that were considered feminine, such as caring for your comrades and doing the cooking and sewing for your squad. (Kuehne) The opposite example is the women’s section of Franco’s Spain, who were expected to be “feminine” in that they were supposed to be domestic, caring, and submissive, yet a “masculine” side clearly came through. These women primarily acted as spies but also fought, which would go against their “feminine” expectations and could be seen as quite masculine. (Lopez/Sanchez) It also feels almost oxymoronic to say “fascist woman,” but at the same time perhaps it’s dismissive to women to say that they can’t be repugnant fascists as well. Overall, in fascist militarism we see masculine men showing some femininity and feminine women showing some masculinity. But then we have to ask ourselves the question: is this specific to the situation, or maybe is everything like this? I would argue the latter, since, as we’ve seen, even with masculinity or femininity being drilled into people as intensely as fascist regimes did, people are never 100% one or the other.

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