Physical education and sporting activity for women during the fascist era
by Gigliola Gori
Date of Examination:2000-05-11
Date of issue:2001-11-07
Referee:Prof. Dr. Arnd Krüger
Referee:Prof. Dr. James Riordan
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This thesis aims to examine how much Fascism opened the way to female physical education and sport in Italy. Of course, by using all manner of available media, fascist propaganda had spread throughout the country and world the image of a strong nation of healthy sports people, including women. It also examines to possible effect of this female 'sportization' on women's emancipation in a country founded on traditional paternalistic values and hegemony. The massive sporting phenomenon during the fascist era has already been studied by scholars of Fascism in general, and also analysed in specific books on sport, but the emphasis has been on the more prominent male sector of which Chapter 2 gives a general outline. In contrast, the female sector, that was underrepresented in fascist times, constitutes an interesting field for further investigation. Chapter 3 portrays the previous situation in terms of female physical culture, starting from the pioneering Nineteenth Centruy; it tries to qualify and quantify the impact of Fascism on Italian women's sport. The following Chapers 4, 5 and 6 are broadly dedicated to this theme. They show that there existed different moral and even aesthetic model women, owning to an ambiguous policy which stressed maternity and, at the same time, demanded female engagement in society. During the fascist era, women had to move strictly within an old-fashioned framework designed by medicine and eugenics, religious and traditional education, while, on the other hand, the country aspired to modernity and had made a myth of sport. General female emancipation, which had been promised by the fascist revolution and was actually occurring in other industrialised nations, found it hard to advance under the regime because of male hegemonic trends in the country. However, the very engagement of women in s! ome sporting activity promoted and supported a gender emancipation, as will be demonstrated in the present work. Chapter 7 sums up what has been said in the previous chapters, and also shows that in the post-war period women found it hard to advance further on, for a number of reasons. As a matter of fact, their emancipation started successfully very late, due to the revolutionary 1968 that actively involved Italians in worldwide gender progress, which rocked tradition and habits.