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Reviews 353 changing notions about getting old and care for the elderly, are necessary before adequate policy proposals can be made. Hans Vermeulen University of Amsterdam HelenVarika,HεξÎ-γεϕσητωνΚυϕίων,ΗγÎ-νεσημιαςφεμινιστικής συνείδησης στην Ελλάδα, 1833-1907. Research and Educational Foundation of the Commercial Bank of Greece. 1987. Pp. 308. This book is highly welcome as an important contribution to socio-historical research on women, a type of research which has been rather neglected in Greece. The author has written, from a feminist perspective, an historical study of the changing social position and role perception of women in Greece in the last three quarters of the 19th century—a critical period. After its liberation from Turkish rule in 1830, Greece was trying to define its cultural identity under the impact of western European (modernizing) values, on the one hand, and of traditional, endogenous values, on the other. Varika's objective is not to tell the story of Greek women of the 19th century in general, but to study a specific category of Greek women—mainly those belonging to the middle-strata—among whom there developed for the first time toward the end of the 19th century a consciousness of gender (that is, an awareness of their belonging not only to a biological but also to a social category, p. 24) which in turn helped the formation of a feminist consciousness. Varika's interest was sparked, she reports, by her discovery of the weekly Journal of the Ladies (Efimeris ton Kirion)— the first feminist Greek journal, which for a period of twenty years (1887-1907) under the inspired direction of Callirroi Parren promoted , through hundreds of women's articles, comments and letters, the cause of the emancipation of Greek women. The author considers a paradox: the formation of a feminist consciousness in 19th century Greek society where other forms of social criticism were under-developed. She does not confine herself solely to the period covered by the journal and to analysis of its contents but examines a great wealth of additional sources—literary, historical, sociological, statistical, travelers' impressions, and the like—extending all the way back to 183 3, the year Athens became the capital of Greece. The author intends (as stated in her introduction, pp. 22-23) to deal 354 Reviews mainly with the objective conditions affecting the lives of Greek women in chapters one and two and with their self perceptions, frustrations and aspirations in chapters three and four. But, in fact, this somewhat artificial division was not followed. In all chapters—and especially in the first three—we get the picture of a continuous interaction between objective socio-economic conditions and structures and subjective factors . This "unintended" end-product is actually closer to the realities discussed. The first chapter examines the position of urban middle-strata Greek women during the period 1833-75, a position which is both traditional and new. Women were excluded from the public sphere (work, education and politics) and confined solely to the private sphere of family life, where, however, motherhood and childhood were not yet glorified. Their actual life-chances and their self-perceptions reflected their inferior and parasitic status in comparison to that of the men. The second chapter describes the changes in the position of Greek women during the period 1875-1908, due mainly to the changing perceptions of family life and motherhood. The idealization of the role of women within the home provided them with a positive identity but, at the same time, accentuated the differences between female and male roles, and legitimated male domination. Since the rearing of good citizens and patriots required additional abilities on the part of the women, however, women's partial education began to be viewed positively and as a result an important road to female emancipation was made available. The third chapter deals with the main theme of this study: the gradual development of a gender consciousness among Greek urban middle-strata women which led to the formation of a feminist consciousness (as witnessed also by the publication of the Journal of the Ladies) during the last quarter of the 19th century. Among the various factors leading to such a development the author analyzes more particularly the contribution of women's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 353-355
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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