Partisanes and Gender Politics in Vichy France

TitlePartisanes and Gender Politics in Vichy France
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsSchwartz, Paula
JournalFrench Historical Studies

Partisan women of the French Resistance, many of whom were associated with combat groups linked to the French Communist party (PCF), broke the gender barrier by fighting side by side with men. Their purported "invisibility" as women made them ideal underground operatives, whether they participated as fighters or as non-combat members of gender-integrated combat teams. Adaptive behavior and blurred identities explained and excused the trespassing of women into male gender territory. The distribution of political work between men and women in the clandestine period was primarily a function of the different social codes and life styles present in urban and rural settings. Women found it increasingly difficult to become involved in combat when the action intensified and fighters prepared to move above ground. The complexities of collective and individual memory have perpetuated the relative invisibility of partisan women in the postward period.

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