The place of the feminine under fascism

By Jim Dagg

My thoughts on the readings this week are primarily reflections on the feminine under fascism. It’s easy to observe that the male is dominant in fascism – even more so than under other systems. So, beyond baby-making and child-raising… what place does the feminine have under fascism?

Two of the readings – “Protean Masculinity…” by Kuhne and “Blue Angels…” by Lopez/Sanchez provide very interesting insights. The latter shows that during the Spanish Civil War, fascist women sometimes played non-traditional roles – in espionage, sabotage and organization. Paradoxically, they fought against women’s rights that had been provided by the existing democratic government (right to vote, divorce, education). Did they understand this? If so, what motivated them to work against their own rights? The history of the civil war was written by the fascists, and it downplayed the women’s contributions – putting women back in their “place”.

And yet the feminine is essential. In Kuhne’s article, we see that operating successfully as a hard man and a comrade would provide license for more typically feminine actions and sentiments. And these were essential to the good functioning of military units. Examples are quoted included the organizing of a Christmas celebration, and even crying for lost comrades. These types of incidents helped maintain comradely bonds among hard men – and show how the feminine was essential to the operation of predominantly-male environments.

In the “Spain’s Fascism Fandom” video-doc we see that women’s main role is in abusing women who disagree with them. While counter-protesters are being arrested, other women shout abuse at them – including sexualized language. In Marhoefer’s article we hear of an anonymous letter which denounces Totzke primarily for having a lesbian affair. We don’t know the gender of the letter-writer, but it certainly fits the pattern of attacking women who act outside of traditional roles.

The common theme of all these is that fascism values the traditional role for women. Further when some women operate outside tradition, they stand to be abused by traditional women, and their positive contributions will be hidden from the record.

One Reply to “The place of the feminine under fascism”

  1. You make a good point about the “Spain’s Fascist Fandom” video-doc in that it also seems to me that one of fascism’s roles for women is for them to abuse other women who disagree with them. I think that the “other” part is also very important, as this abuse goes beyond forcing them into gender roles and instead moves towards bigotry (for lack of a better term). The women who don’t fit into fascism’s defined gender roles seem to be viewed by fascist women in a very one-dimensional, dehumanizing way. A view which is loaded with pre-conceived stereotypes that are played upon in the abuse.

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