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Women & Franco Essay

2612 words - 11 pages

5. Why did the Franco regime seek to reverse gains made by Spanish women in the early twentieth century?

Indisputably, General F. Franco’s dictatorship in a “Nationalist Spain” truncated both social and political progress made by women throughout the period of the early 1900s. In order to discuss the crucial motives for the totalitarian regime’s reversal of such developments, a brief historical background of European stances on the roles of women must firstly be examined. As established by H. Graham, attempts at preserving socio-cultural conservatism to uphold political ideologies during this era were geared primarily towards the reiteration of traditional gender roles in society. The ...view middle of the document...

His fascist beliefs reinforced the notion of emphasis on women’s subservience with the reintroduction of several discriminative legislations. In this respect, he sought to preserve women as being the ‘social glue’ of the state and restore Spain’s post-war damaged demography. Franco’s recommitment to the Church facilitated this comfortably, with religious indoctrination further suppressing advances in women’s education. From a political perspective, Franco’s right-wing interests were also protected by the Church in its promotion of female conservatism. As an anti-Republican government with fierce opposition to strides of communism, it was therefore crucial that the Franco regime eradicated the modernised republican-born version of a woman in defence of its radical authoritarianism.

Thus, a crucial reason for the brutal regime’s condemnation of women is derived from deeply misogynistic views held during the 1900s. Women were regarded as being ‘home angels’, who ought to remain confined to the domestic sphere of society. It was widely held that their natural duty was to provide service to the nation by means of conducting home-making affairs and raising children, instilling appropriate morals as necessary. This generalized perception of gender roles, in which female politics, external careers or military affiliation were suppressed, is propounded by legislations enforced under A. Hitler and B. Mussolini at the time, and reiterated by R. Rubio-Marin and P.B. Radcliff in their respective literatures. Therefore, significant advances made during the Republican period with regards to equality in amendments of these laws were completely obliterated during Franco’s reign. Up until the 1970s, women were subjected to imprisonment under the law “abandono del hogar”, and could not own individual property or sign contracts without a husband’s permission. Implemented birth-promoting policies, incentives in the form of large family subsidies and the prohibition of entitlement to specific careers sought to detain women and recover Spain’s demography, which had suffered a great blow during the war and subsequent years.

Actresses knitting and crocheting for the militia [© Museu de l’Historia de la Ciutat, Barcelona
Actresses knitting and crocheting for the militia [© Museu de l’Historia de la Ciutat, Barcelona
Franco’s reintroduction of a discriminatory framework, including abortion penalization, provisions regarding passionate crimes, cohabitation and adultery, along with reforms of the 1994 Penal Code, also served to effectively bring an evolution of feminist advances to a stand-still. One of the finest ways in which this ideology is visually exemplified was Franco’s substitution of the war-time image of militiawomen for the portrayal of a classic feminine role - voluntary and social service work in the form of tending to combatants, nursing and sewing.
Furthermore, there was need for the...

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