How Fascism Ruled Women


“For the common reader as well as the professional one, Victoria de Grazia opens doors and sheds new light on a fascinating subject.”–Mary Gordon, author of “The Other Side

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“Italy has been made; now we need to make the Italians, ” is a long-familiar Italian saying. Mussolini was the first head of government to include women in this mandate. What the fascist dictatorship expected of its female subjects and how they experienced the Duce’s brutal but seductive rule are the main topics of Victoria de Grazia’s new book. The author draws on an unusual array of sources–memoirs, novels, and reports on the images and events of mass culture, as well as government statistics and archival accounts–to present a broad yet detailed characterization of Italian women’s ambiguous and ambivalent experience of a regime that promised women modernity, yet denied them freedom. Always attentive to the great diversity among women and careful to distinguish fascist rhetoric from the practices actually shaping daily existence, de Grazia moves with ease from the public discourse about maternity and family life to the images of femininity in commercial culture. The first study of women’s experience under Italian fascism, this book offers a compelling treatment of the making of contemporary Italian society. With acute comparisons between the sexual politics of Italian fascism and developments elsewhere, including Hitler’s Germany, de Grazia illuminates trends and dilemmas common to the construction of female citizenship in twentieth-century societies.

Additional information

Weight 1.33 lbs
Dimensions 8.98 × 6 × 0.99 in


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