Mobilizing Women in World War II. Rosie the Riveter vs. the Mutter des Volkes. WW2: Labor shortage, women needed both countries trying to reverse similar depression policies existing public image of women incompatible with war jobs
Rosie the Riveter vs. the Mutter des Volkes
both countries trying to reverse similar depression policies
existing public image of women incompatible with war jobs
possible steps: civilian conscription and/or massive propaganda campaigns to change the public image
different approach during war
Germany: unenforced conscription law
US: large media campaigns
See Graphs I-II.Mobilizing Women – Different Answers
Policy forum, no enforcement methods
Organizer of campaigns
1942 Office of War Information (OWI)
US ‘propaganda’ agency
‘information’ & ‘the strategy of truth’
aim of campaigns: sell the war to women by changing the public image of the American Woman, the white middle-class housewifeUS – Institutional Framework
publishing limited circulation pamphlets for the use of the media of advertisers,
coordinating promotional campaigns
monthly guides to magazine writers and editors, and radio commentators, suggesting approaches to allocating time and space so that the various media might emphasize the same themes at the same timeOWI Propaganda – Use of the Media
campaigns included both a national and intensive local campaigns
similar media techniques:
radio shows, spot announcements, special features
professionally prepared announcements and recordings made by famous radio personalities.
special womanpower short films
magazines picture women workers on their front covers
calendar for retailers with suggested advertising techniques
advertisers of all kinds of products tie in the war themes with their ads.
posters & billboards urged women to take jobs
WMC: special pamphlet for the use of government officials in areas of labor shortage.
stencils for use by the boy scouts in painting sidewalks.OWI Propaganda – Media Campaigns
introduced the idea that women could save lives by taking a job and thus helping to end the war sooner.
positive appeal on patriotism sometimes turned negative: “Every idle machine may mean a dead soldier”Altering The Public Image of Women 2.
still threatened women without jobs with responsibility for prolonging the war, but also accused them of being slackers.
special appeals to husbands, telling them it would be no reflection on their ability to support their families for their wives to take war jobs.
it even argued that it was entirely natural for women to take jobs.
many of these approaches were also used to encourage women to join the armed forces, serving as auxiliary forces.Altering The Public Image of Women 3.
(1) The ‘misogynic’ view of the Nazi top elite
(2) ‘nazi-feminism’ (CIT)
Common shared elements:
The main role of German woman is to be ‘The Mother of the Nation’ (“Die Mutter des Volkes”)
Women as ‘the guardians of racial purity’Nazi Ideology and the Role of Women 1.
(1) The public sphere
(2) The private/family sphere
Both of those spheres are seen as vital for ‘nation`s life’
Within the private/family sphere women play essential role in:
i) the biological reproduction
ii) the cultural reproductionNazi Ideology and the Role of Women 2.
emphasis on physical activities
women are often seen as similarly physically and mentally capable of work as men are
the status of single mothers is better
women are seen as suited for certain kinds of work (agriculture, nursing, education, social work)Nazi Ideology and the Role of Women 3.
Reasons: (a) belief that the total mobilization was not necessary; (b) opposition from the top leadership
No large scale propaganda launched in this area.
Pre-war propaganda continues altered, the public image of women is subject only to minor changes. This image remains constant in its basic characteristics in the period 1934-1944.WW II German Propaganda 1.
The life of nation is seen as divided into two spheres:
(2) Home-frontWW II German Propaganda 2.
Focus on the biological and cultural reproduction is slightly altered by the new war-related conditions.
Employment of women is seen as a sacrifice for the nation.WW II German Propaganda 3.
German WW II propaganda did not alter the public image of the role of German women. Little has changed in this respect since 1934.
No large-scale campaign in order to recruit women into the labor force as in the case of USA.
This can be interpreted as a mistake that severely impaired German war economy. In contrast, the US effort was a success in this respect.Conclusion
Rupp, Leila J. 1978. Mobilizing women for war: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press
Yuval Davis, Nira. 1997. Theorizing Gender and Nation. In: Gender and Nation. London: Sage