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The Republic of Men

Gender and the Political Parties in Interwar France

Geoff Read

Publication Year: 2014

In The Republic of Men, Geoff Read explores the intersection of gender bias and the eight most important political parties in interwar France, breaking new scholarly ground in profound ways. The first to compare gender discourse across the political spectrum in a national context and trace the origins of the fascist "new man" in other political traditions, Read evaluates the impact of gender discourse upon policy during a pivotal period in French history.

Skillfully exploring how differing political traditions -- from left to right -- influenced and reacted to each other, Read shows that regardless of the party, predominant notions of gender manifested themselves in misogyny and double standards when it came to women's emancipation.

Despite the hostility of male politicians and party members, and despite women's exclusion from both parliament and the vote, Read argues that women were nonetheless crucial to politics and visibly prominent within almost every political party in interwar France. Read explains this seeming contradiction by demonstrating the existence of a conservative trend in gender politics that by the mid-1930s had enveloped even the Communist Party.

Through his masterful analysis, Read closes significant gaps in the existing historiography and presents a truly revisionist assessment of early-twentieth-century French politics.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

As is always the case with such a project many people and institutions contributed to the completion of this manuscript. The following institutions or funding agencies helped support this research financially: York University (Canada), Lakehead University, Huron...

Table of Prominent French Political Parties/Movements, 1919–1940

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pp. xii

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Introduction: Gender and Race in the Interwar Republic

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pp. 1-20

On November 11, 1918, the président du conseil,1 Georges Clemenceau, stood up first in the Chamber of Deputies and later in the Senate to announce the armistice with Germany, signaling the end of a conflict that had caused the deaths of 1,310,000 young French soldiers and an additional two hundred...

Part I: Gender

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1. “The Eminent Virtues of the Citizen”: Gender and Virtue

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pp. 23-53

Gender historians agree that popular conceptions of gender “matter.” Prevailing gender norms, scholars argue, have a profound influence on men and women’s identity formation, on their upbringing, on their educations, on their career paths, in short, on their lives in the broadest possible terms. An

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2. New Men, New Women: Gender and the Totalitarian Drift

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pp. 54-90

One of the seminal political developments in the western world at the end of World War I was the advent of international communism. The birth of communism destabilized Europe by introducing a genuinely revolutionary element to mass democratic politics and sowing fear among the middle and...

Part II: Race

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3. “The Savagery of the Barbarians”: The Politics of Race

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pp. 93-114

Historians of interwar France have tended to locate the home of racists and xenophobes firmly on the right. Studies of despicable figures such as Louis Darquier de Pellepoix or Robert Brasillach, for example, reinforce for many the popular and comforting assumption that the virulent racism they espoused...

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4. “Warning! The Cradles Are Empty!”: Gender, Race, and the Politics of Population

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pp. 115-142

In the late summer of 1936, in the first year of its existence, the Parti populaire français sounded the alert: “Warning!” an author at L’Émancipation nationale declared, “The Cradles Are Empty!”1 The two-part article bearing this alarm exemplified the widespread paranoia in interwar France about the...

Part III: Women

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5. Women in Public Space: Women’s Work and Women in Politics

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pp. 145-179

France was moving toward an increasingly conservative gender politics in the 1930s. This conservative politics was, moreover, ever more shaped by racialism and a eugenicist mentality. While these discursive trends could and did have profound effects on social realities, they did not always reflect...

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6. “Veritable Prisoners of Their Sex”: Gender and Race in the Debates over Women’s Suffrage

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pp. 180-213

As with the issues of birth control, family allocations, and abortion, widespread concerns regarding gender and race informed the discussion of women’s suffrage and the family vote in interwar France. Women, of course, did not gain the vote in France until April 21, 1944, when it was decreed by the...

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pp. 214-222

Politicians’ conceptions of gender and race had a profound impact in interwar France. As this study of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Radical and Radical-Socialist Party, the Alliance démocratique, the Fédération républicaine, the Parti démocrate populaire, the Croix de feu/Parti social français...


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pp. 223-274


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pp. 275-289

E-ISBN-13: 9780807155226
E-ISBN-10: 0807155225
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807155219

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 12 halftones
Publication Year: 2014