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Women, War, and Gender

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by

Leslie Schwalm

on 1 December 2016

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Transcript of Women, War, and Gender

WOMEN, WAR AND GENDER
Terms
Dr. Mary Walker, 1st Female Surgeon
in Union Army
A "mania" for making flags
Sex/Gender
What is sex?
A complex and widely varying combination of genes, hormones, internal and external anatomy, secondary sex characteristics, and environmental impacts.
For example: prior to 18th century: the sexes were not divided by reproductive anatomies: they shared one. There was ONE "sex."
Anatomically, women were regarded as inverted, less perfect men. They had exactly the same organs as men but in the wrong places (female penis: what we know as the vagina; female scotum: what we know as the uterus). There was no term "vagina." Then and now, ideas about sex change as our understanding of the body changes.

BOTH ARE
Dynamic & historically-based (change over time)
Culturally specific & therefore widely varying
Defined, produced, and experienced at individual, social, and institutional levels
What is gender?
The roles, behavior, activities, capabilities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate and "normal" for particular bodies (male and female).
BOTH ARE
the subject of social practices, power relations, rigidly-enforced expectations and norms
BOTH ARE used to structure opportunity, the distribution of power, and the division of labor in American history and contemporary society
What does war mean for women?
The dislocation of male authority and power
Masculinity and manhood gain newly politicized meanings
Women's household labor (unwaged & invisible) gains new public, political significance
Women's family ties gain new political significance
New opportunities in employment and public service
New sources of exploitation
The dislocation of male authority and power

Masculinity and manhood gain newly politicized meanings
Women's household labor (unwaged & invisible) gains new public, political significance--as do women's family ties
The war offered new opportunities for women in employment and public service
Southern Women and the War
Helped make enlistment successful
Attacked occupying Union army
Provided material support for the CSA army
Women worked to support the war effort...
...as nurses, clerks, in munitions production, and in factories
Southern women were displaced
Southern women make themselves into a new political constituency
As war effort intervenes into households, women demand protection and rights as soldiers' wives
Are regarded as potential domestic enemies and traitors
The failure of Confederate manhood?
Confederate men
infantilized
New Sources of Exploitation
Our understanding of what constitutes biological sex has changed dramatically over time.
Why does this matter to Civil War history?
Ideas
about masculinity and femininity
shaped individual experiences of the war;
largely determined opportunities and vulnerabilities during the war;
were subject to change because of the war's impact on ideas about and experiences of gender
Sanitary Commission workers
Solders' Fairs
Northern women's wartime employment
increased rate of employment--300,000 women enter workforce for the first time
traditional and nontraditional occupations--outwork, textile industry, clerical labor
increased economic hardship--wages vs. inflation
often excluded from male-led labor unions; viewed as "reserve labor pool"
Northern women's volunteer work
local and state organizing
US Sanitary Commission--$15 million raised in cash, goods
the "business of benevolence"
Racial discrimination and volunteerism
nursing
A southern patriot rejects a beau who was slow to enlist
Southern war workers refuse to socialize with unenlisted men
Full transcript