Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain

TitleMaking Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsKent, Susan
Number of Pages182
PublisherPrinceton University Press
CityPrinceton, NJ

Drawing on materials from posters to popular songs, from government reports to journalistic accounts, from memoirs and novels to diaries and letters, the book examines how gendered and sexualized depictions of wartime experiences compelled many Britons to seek in traditional gender arrangements the key to postwar order and security. The study emphasized the emergence of a powerful ideology of motherhood and a reemphasis on separate spheres for men and women in interwar Britain, a corollary to the political and economic restructuring designed to reestablish social order after World War I. The war had often been explained and justified to the British public by means of images that portrayed women as hostile or frightening--or as victims of sexual assault, as in the Belgian atrocity stories. These sexualized interpretations of war shaped postwar understandings of gender, as the public discourse drew on metaphors of war to talk about relationships between men and women, likening any conflict between the sexes to the terrible chaos of the war years.

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