This paper discuses in regard to women who were required to abandon their traditional role as housekeepers during the First World War. These individuals were virtually forced to employ all of their efforts in order to provide for their families, for soldiers on the front, and for their countries as a whole. Even with this, it is only safe to assume that the conflict also assisted them in being recognized on a social level.
In addition to the effect that it had on a series of countries and on society as a whole, the First World War also played an important role for women all across the planet. The conflict provided women with many opportunities, considering that they basically had access to areas that they could not interact with before. Most men had to leave their jobs with the purpose of going to war and women thus had the chance to occupy these roles and demonstrate that they were perfectly able to work in domains where they were generally discriminated until the time. The masses are inclined to express gratitude toward men only when they come across the concept of warfare. However, women are equally responsible for war efforts and one can virtually consider that they also serve during the time when men are on the frontlines.
The General Context:
The First World War raised public awareness concerning a series of concepts and the fact that women held great power during wartime started to be visible even before the conflict actually started. The fact that they were accustomed to the traditional worldview of women made it difficult for individuals to realize the fact that women were capable of thriving in many domains that men were successful in. Some governments actually focused on exploiting women and they did not hesitate to devise recruitment campaigns meant to enlist women. It was basically as if the desperate conditions that they found themselves in enabled people to acknowledge the important role that women could play in war efforts.
Women were typically perceived as individuals who could only be seen in church, in school, and at home. "This philosophy was to change drastically during the course of the war, as women took over from their absent men in hundreds of new and challenging occupations, many of which had previously been considered inappropriate" (Gavin 1). One can basically claim that the war was essential when considering the history of women across the world. Their hard work and determination reflected in the fact that they came to have larger wages, better job opportunities, and they even came to be in direct competition to men in some labor markets.
Not only were women important as a tool that could assist communities when men were not around to work, as they were also used as motivators meant to assist soldiers and simple people to get actively involved in war efforts. Posters and even cinema showing women influencing men to take up arms against their enemies were particularly effective. Women and children were displayed as potential victims of the war and they were thus essential in persuading soldiers on the front to push even stronger with the purpose of saving their families. Those who feared that their families would suffer as a consequence of the fact that they were no longer able to care for them were influenced in going through with their intention to fight for their country by presenting their families with allowances. The image of women sending off troops was typical when regarding war-related posters and films, as this made it possible for individuals to see women as powerful persons who were capable to look after the household in spite of the fact that their men were no longer around to assist them (Grayzel 9).
While most women managed to earn a living for themselves and for their families when their men were on the front, others failed to do so and government thus had to manufacture the image of the invincible woman at times. Even with this, it was obvious that the war had removed many social differences and that people were no longer inclined to discriminate women on account of their presumed inability to perform certain tasks.
Feminists perceived the war as an opportunity to prove themselves and to obtain a serious advantage in their struggle to be recognized as equal individuals. While most people initially failed to observe that there were little to no differences between men and women in some, "governments as well as other organizations quickly seized upon certain images of women to help translate the complicated political and diplomatic crises that had led to the outbreak of war into much simpler terms" (Grayzel 9). Feminists were quick to take advantage of this opportunity and started to publicly lobby in regard to the important role that women played in the war.
Although feminists are generally known to be pacifists, the first global conflict provided them with a reality that they were unable to question. This was practically the moment when they needed to decide whether they should stick to their principles or if they should act in accordance with their countries in getting involved in the war. It would thus be absurd to claim that they abandoned pacifism, as they simply prioritized their goals and reached the conclusion that they needed to involve all of their efforts in cooperating with the majority of individuals in their countries (Cavendish 740).
It is difficult to determine if feminists actually wanted to exploit the situation to their own advantage, considering that it seems perfectly natural for many individuals to express interest in wanting to support war efforts when his or her country is at war. Many feminist leaders started to lobby with regard to the war and influenced most of their followers to encourage men to join the war. "Feminists had organized two imposing peace marches in 1899 and 1907, in connection with the disarmament conferences at The Hague" (Cavendish 740). This influenced many individuals that it would be wrong to provide women with the right to vote, as this would presumably make it extremely difficult for countries to go to war. The defenses of many nations would have become weakened and the respective nations would no longer have the ability to mobilize sufficient individuals and firepower to defend their countries.
Although they were already involved in a conflict where they intellectually fought their governments with the purpose of coming in possession of several rights, women came to consider that it was important for them to refrain from identifying with women in other countries. They believed that foreign women needed to be considered enemies and thus made it possible for a nationalist form of feminism to dominate their thinking. As a result, not only were women determined to support men in fighting their enemies, but they were also resolute on discrediting concepts like peace and negotiation. "The minority of women who stayed with their pacifist ideals were reviled by their former comrades" (Cavendish 741). In addition to being castigated by their former companions as a result of continuing to promote peace, feminists who did this were also provided with harsh treatments by their governments. The authorities considered that individuals who refrained from wanting to support their countries in war efforts needed to be judged on account of expressing defeatist attitudes.
Many governments failed to observe that feminists could play an important role in war efforts and lost the ability to use this asset as a result of portraying warfare as a concept that was only related to men. Even with this, feminist communities in some countries did not hesitate to start off pro-war campaigns. A great deal of individuals believed that these leagues were ineffective because they failed to concentrate on one of the most pressing matters in the country. Women generally focused on domestic topics and this made it difficult for outside individuals to look at them as a group that supported the war. However, their interest in discussing domestic matters was related to their determination to keep conditions safe while their men were at war (Cavendish 741).
Women put across a great deal of patriotism and this was visible through the fact that the number of women who were against the conflict was smaller than the number of women who was in favor of the war. Even with the fact that most women were initially inclined to support the war and everyone who expressed interest in promoting its benefits, conditions gradually changed as the war neared its ending and as most individuals experienced disillusionment as a consequence of the high number of casualties that resulted from the conflict.
The war was not only important because it provided feminists with the chance to prove themselves, as it was also essential for women worldwide because it practically forced them to take a stance concerning conditions in the world (Kritzman, Reilly, DeBevoise 39).…