Representations of the Feminine in Two Women’s Journals, One Catholic, the Other Protestant, La Femme dans la Vie Sociale and Jeunes Femmes in the 1950s and 1960s

By Mathilde Dubesset

During the fifties and sixties, some Roman Catholic or Protestant women participated in the evolution of the representations of the feminine, as can be observed in two journals: La Femme dans la Vie Sociale (Catholic) and Jeunes Femmes (Protestant). Maternity, of course, remained at the heart of the feminine, especially for Catholics, but there were questions about it, and it didn’t rhyme with self sacrifice any more. New horizons were opening. The idea of personal autonomy for women kept growing. Being single (an opportunity for autonomy) was questioned more from the Protestant side where the couple's ideal was very strong. The thought about sex difference went deeper in Jeunes Femmes which was attached to gender equality, while Catholics saw men and women as complementary. In spite of divergences (on birth control for instance), these women had a common vision of the feminine which rhymed with initiative, action, and commitment, even if they did identify themselves with feminism. Some Catholic and Protestant women contributed, in their own way, to the contestation of the masculine primacy, a major event of the 20th century.


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