Northern Illinois University Press

True Catholic Womanhood

Gender Ideology in Franco's Spain

Aurora G. Morcillo

"This study not only offers us a new perspective on the Franco Regime but also constitutes a major contribution to scholarship on gender and authoritarianism and on gender and consumer culture."—Journal of Modern History

"The broadest and most important book in English on women under Franco.... There is nothing comparable."—Pamela Radcliff, University of San Diego

Women faced conflicting demands under Francisco Franco's program of National Catholicism, finding themselves at the center of the regime's efforts to preserve tradition while promoting modernization. Even as state-sponsored economic development created a modern consumer society, church-influenced laws and institutions dictated female domesticity and upheld feminine ideals of asexuality, self-denial, and limited educational development.

Imaginatively using diverse sources—including interviews, magazine advertisements, and university archives—Morcillo addresses the tension between expectations for the traditional woman, whose primary value to the state was reproductive, and those for the modern consumer-housewife ideal that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. She pays particular attention to women's experiences in higher education and in the "Women's Section" of the Falange. Her highly textured history of major women's organizations from the 1940s through the 1960s demonstrates that women successfully negotiated these contradictory demands while creating a vibrant and meaningful public space for social activism. At the same time, their spiritual devotion protected Spanish women from state retribution in their search for "true Catholic womanhood."

True Catholic Womanhood adds new insights into the gender dynamics of authoritarian states, providing a unique window through which to view the process of modernization and the transition toward democracy. It is essential reading for everyone interested in modern Spain, Catholicism, European women's history, and authoritarian social politics.

(2000) 224 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-997-7
Paper $24.00

Table of Contents

Introduction: True Catholic Womanhood
1. Modernity and the Woman Question
2. The Francoist Recovery of Tradition
3. Catholic Womanhood and Consumerism
4. Knowledge and Power in the Francoist University
5. The Women's Section of the Falange
6. In Their Own Words: Women in Higher Education
Conclusion: Authoritarian Politics and Modernity from a Gender Perspective

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-997-7
paper $24.00