The Double Burden: Marriage, Motherhood, and Employment in the Interwar Years

  • Ann Taylor Allen


At the close of the war, feminists hoped for peace not only in international but also in gender relations, to which wartime had brought so much tension, disorder, and conflict. Sometimes, a return to nurturing motherhood was proposed as a remedy. Amid the revelry that marked the signing of the Armistice, the British suffragist Catherine Gasquoine Hartley deplored the behavior of the “screaming girls” who greeted the soldiers. “In one group a woman was carrying a baby, and a tiny child dragged at the hand of another girl, crying drearily, and no one noticed…. Surely this squandering of Woman’s gift, this failure of herself, must cease now that peace has come.”1 But as the initial euphoria was followed by a more realistic view of women’s status in interwar societies, many voices were raised against this one-sided view of women’s destiny. Among them was that of the flamboyant British activist Dora Russell. “In actual fact, a woman is as capable as a man of combining love of a mate, parenthood, and physical and intellectual work,” she wrote in 1925. “If we cannot have children and remain intelligent human beings … then indeed our emancipation is a mockery.”2 Russell included both maternity and fulfillment through work in her definition of emancipation.


Married Woman Unmarried Mother French Woman Family Allowance Paternal Support 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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