Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Can the Use of History in Propaganda Prevent Progress?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Can the Use of History in Propaganda Prevent Progress?

"Just as the servicewoman represented civilian patriotism, so did the housewife, both historical and contemporary, stand for what made America strong: the family. Viewing history as a linear progression, propgandists during the war located the family in a specific historical context that encompassed both the essentialist belief in a woman's biological destiny to be wife/mother and the protrait of America as advancing force of civilization." (Remembering Rosie, pg 100)

Propaganda was used thoroughly to break women into the workforce when it was needed during wartime, however, recalling the Victorian idea of the Republican Mother, propaganda was utilized at the end of the war to put women back in the home and resume their function as consumers (although first and foremost caretakers/homemakers) rather than earners.

What are the implications of utilizing ideologies of eras gone by? Does propaganda truly have the power to prevent progress? By focusing on women as Republican Mothers, and intending to revert these newly independent women back to this ideal, don't women take a step back before moving forward for equal rights? Could propaganda such as this be at least partly responsible for the still present inequalities between men and women?


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A great quote and illustrations as well.

The same ideas about womanhood were used to move women out of the home and into war work and then back again into their traditional roles. It is odd that the same vision of gender roles and the family can be used to justify apparently opposite behaviors. The ambiguity of powerful symbols allows them to be pulled and stretched to fit a wide variety of actions.
Ideas about gender have deep cultural and biological roots. These ideas evolve very slowly over generations, in fits and starts. Traditional ideas about women's place in society have not progressed in a straight line. Periods of openness to change are followed by a conservative backlash. The World War II propaganda used deeply held ideas about women, motherhood and the family to build support for the war and war work and sacrifice on the homefront. These traditional ideas were used to justify non-traditional behavior, if only temporarily.

2/27/2006 10:09 PM  

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