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Conclusions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2024

Katherine E. Calvert
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
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Summary

This Book Has explored how women writers in Weimar Germany participated in and shaped discourses of motherhood. I have studied a wide range of sources to uncover how authors and journalists attempted to renegotiate the role of mothering and to construct models of motherhood that suited their contemporary experiences, priorities, and aspirations. As has been seen, women's role as mothers and their reproductive rights and choices were highly contested, and conversations about motherhood intersected with political debates on the future of the nation. The themes that emerge across all of the sources indicate that these texts, comprising both lesser-known left-wing writing and critically acclaimed popular fiction, were in dialogue with each other and formed part of a broader public discussion. By using writing as a subversive political tool, women sought to steer public discourses around motherhood during an era of both sweeping social change and persistent gender conservatism.

Tensions between progressive policies that would broaden women's reproductive rights and the widely held acceptance of women's desire, and indeed duty, to mother are discernible across the sources analyzed in this study. The presence of such conservatism confounds expectations based on the presentation of new women's independence found in cultural studies, often exemplified with reference to fictional urban young women like Irmgard Keun's Gilgi. The traditional views of gender roles displayed in the sources, however, substantiate the historical studies that have concluded that the unmarried, childless new woman was largely a media and advertising construct whose real-world manifestation was severely limited.

Despite the authors’ various affiliations to the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party and as independent left-wing and socially critical writers, there is a greater degree of consistency in their approach to questions of women's mothering and reproductive choice than might be expected, given the fierce rivalries between these political groups that became particularly pronounced in the closing years of the Weimar Republic. The relative consensus on motherhood indicates that left-wing women writers were not only influenced by, but also played a role in shaping, socialist discourses of motherhood.

I have argued that the authors and journalists whose work is discussed in this book typically adopt a pragmatic strategy that packages more-radical political positions, such as demands for legal access to abortion services, in a manner palatable to a society in which essentialist understandings of gender were left largely unchallenged.

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Modeling Motherhood in Weimar Germany
Political and Psychological Discourses in Women's Writing
, pp. 156 - 160
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Conclusions
  • Katherine E. Calvert, University College Dublin
  • Book: Modeling Motherhood in Weimar Germany
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431251.007
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  • Conclusions
  • Katherine E. Calvert, University College Dublin
  • Book: Modeling Motherhood in Weimar Germany
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431251.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Conclusions
  • Katherine E. Calvert, University College Dublin
  • Book: Modeling Motherhood in Weimar Germany
  • Online publication: 21 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805431251.007
Available formats
×