Among the new technologies of the industrial age, the typewriter both provided women with access to the labor force and became identified as a gender-specific machine used almost exclusively by women. This essay examines the iconography of the female office worker at the typewriter in two Weimar entertainment films, Arm wie eine Kirchenmaus (Poor as a Church Mouse, 1930) and Die Privatsekretärin (The Private Secretary, 1931), in order to assess how this woman is negotiated as a spectacle and role model for female spectators. Technology, the ethos of work, and consumer culture are the central terms of this negotiation. Although these films highlight the professional success of women at work, they also reinforce traditional gender expectations, such as sex segregation and the return of young females to the domestic sphere of marriage and family life. By contextualizing these films within the Depression years, this paper argues that their conventional conclusions should also be understood as expressing male anxieties over the ongoing economic crisis and competition from working women. (AF)


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pp. 151-166
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