Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

True Catholic Womanhood: Gender Ideology in Franco's Spain

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

True Catholic Womanhood: Gender Ideology in Franco's Spain

Article excerpt

True Catholic Womanhood: Gender Ideology in Franco's Spain. By Aurora G. Morcillo. (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. 2000. Pp. ix, 214. $36.00.)

The Franco regime shared with the Roman Catholic Church a series of assumptions about gender roles and their allegedly 'natural' basis in sexual biology. In this way of thinking, women were destined by their reproductive capacity to a life centred on the home and the care of children. Work outside the home was at best an unfortunate necessity, made more tolerable if it could be interpreted-for instance in teaching or nursing-as an extension of the woman's domestic role as nurturer and healer. By contrast, the external world of work was regarded as a male sphere. It followed that boys and girls should be educated separately and differently. Predetermined gender roles defined what was appropriate and possible in education, in work, and in social relations.

To this conservative ideology of female domesticity, the Franco regime added the element of duties to the state. Like many other authoritarian systems, it held that women served the state and the nation, as well as God and society, by rearing children and inculcating in them suitable values and attitudes. But, paradoxically, this wider responsibility required training courses in practical skills, and patriotism, which actually removed women from the domestic environment. Aurora Morcillo is particularly interested in this 'nationalizing' of women in Franco's Spain, especially through the Wbmens' section of the Falange, to which the regime entrusted the education in citizenship of Spanish women. Many previous scholars have explored the paradox of Womens' section members instructing other women, quite professionally, in how to give absolute priority to being a wife and mother, in the home. …

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