Patriotic femininity : the impact of women's war-time experiences on the reconstruction of female identity.
The Second World War was a period which witnessed struggles for
the definition of appropriate feminine identities and behaviour as
much as it placed demands on men and their masculinities.
Women's own narratives, as one form of discourse, are central to
this thesis because they show how women made sense of their lives
within the context of materiality and ideology embedded in lived
relations. This is contrasted with other discourses through which
their lives were also constructed. The exploration considers
women's participation in the work force, the services and on the
By focusing on the processes and practices through which
discourses were constructed this thesis challenges some of the
myths surrounding women's contribution to the war effort and the
effects this had on their lives. It prioritises the analysis of gender
relations over the analysis of patriarchy, and critically deconstructs
the usefulness of constructs of the 'public' and the 'private' when
the gendered fluidity of space and time is made a focus of attention.
The constructs 'Patriotic Femininity' and 'for the duration', ideal
types in the Weberian sense, have been utilised as heuristic devices
to explore the disjunctions between gender ideology, the spatial
dislocations that accompanied the war and how they were
Feminist research methodologies provide important strategies for
the grounding of knowledge in women's lives; women's history
needs to be connected to main/male stream history; it was a
woman's war too. Grounding theory in accounts of lived
experiences enables an understanding of women's lives,
constructing knowledge that writes women back into his-tory - 'herstories'
The way history has been constructed the heroic myths of the Second
World War are male, thus there is a need for other kinds of critical
knowledge to be produced to provide an understanding of women's
lives and another, feminine kind of heroism. As the research
shows, women negotiated their lives through a fractured gender
time and space.