War And Gender Roles In The 1920's

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War had a dramatic impact on gender roles and the path that women’s rights took. “Both wars have been seen as motors of change, bringing in their wake new legislation, new patterns of behavior and new ways of thinking” (Noakes, 2007, p. 143). War causes public opinions to change in short periods of time. For England, the change was a strong need to find their perceived peaceful nation once again. This, in part, appeared in the form of trying to push women back into traditional gender-roles. However, a country can’t go back in time, so gender-roles will be changed do matter what. “Total war seems to have the potential to challenge the status quo, challenging patterns of family life, of work, and of political organizations” (Noakes, 2007, p.…show more content…
242). Feminists who wanted equal pay and equal opportunity began shifting their opinions or becoming less aggressive in their efforts throughout the 1920’s. Cicely Hamilton said “we are retreating where once we advanced” (Kent, 1988, p. 239). There was no longer a place for the militant suffragettes of the WSPU in the interwar period. Britain had seen too much violence. The public opinion at the end of the war greatly influenced the stance that after war feminism took. In Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain, Kent states that the experience of the war led pre-war feminists to shift their stance from equal pay and opportunities to reinvigorating the ideals of separate spheres (Noakes, 2007, p. 144). People wanted a return to the peaceful times they had enjoyed during the golden age, and they strongly linked traditional gender-roles to those times. Eleanor Rathbone led the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (NUSEC) which seceded the NUWSS at the end of the war. Rathbone followed a ‘new’ feminism which “embodied [the] belief that the equality of women with men had been achieved” (Kent, 1988, p. 240). New feminism is also viewed as a step backwards by many especially in foresight. These new feminists stopped challenging the ideological issues caused by their gender, and their new ideology became too similar to that of antifeminists. Their new demands were based on what women at home might need instead of equal voting rights. In Woman’s Leader, Mary Stocks with Rathbone that the promotion of motherhood was more important than demanding equal pay and equal opportunities because “the majority of women workers are only birds of passage in their trade” (Kent, 1988, p. 241). With how feminism is seen today, this shift was a fatal change. This new feminism was so similar to
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