Karen Offen offers a magisterial reconstruction and analysis of the debates around relations between women and men, how they are constructed, and how they should be organized, that raged in France and its French-speaking neighbors from 1870 to 1920. The ‘woman question’ encompassed subjects from maternity and childbirth, and the upbringing and education of girls to marriage practices and property law, the organization of households, the distribution of work inside and outside the household, intimate sexual relations, religious beliefs and moral concerns, government-sanctioned prostitution, economic and political citizenship, and the politics of population growth.
The book shows how the expansion of economic opportunities for women and the drop in the birth rate further exacerbated the debates over their status, roles, and possibilities. With the onset of the First World War, these debates were temporarily placed on hold, but they would be revived by 1916 and gain momentum during France’s post-war recovery.
- Proposes an innovative, gendered, thematic view of French history during the first fifty years of the Third Republic
- Provides and analyzes the actual debates on the woman question as they took place over small periods of time, with attention to defenders of the masculine-dominated status quo as well as to the challengers who contested male hegemony
- Written in narrative prose, without theoretical jargon or conceit; no theoretical template has been imposed
More about the book
Karen Offen, The Woman Question in France, 1400-1870 (Cambridge University Press, 2018); now in paperback (March 2019) and eBook
About the author
Karen Offen is a historian and independent scholar affiliated as a Senior Scholar with the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University in California. Read more >>