Fascisti - Tenets - Age and Gender Roles

Age and Gender Roles

Fascism emphasizes youth both in a physical sense of age and in a spiritual sense as related to virility and commitment to action. The Italian Fascists' political anthem was called Giovenezza ("The Youth"). Fascism identifies the physical age period of youth as a critical time for the moral development of people that will affect society.

Italian Fascism pursued what it called "moral hygiene" of youth, particularly regarding sexuality. Fascist Italy promoted what it considered normal sexual behaviour in youth while denouncing what it considered deviant sexual behaviour. It condemned pornography, most forms of birth control and contraceptive devices (with the exception of the condom), homosexuality, and prostitution as deviant sexual behaviour, although enforcement of laws opposed to such practices was erratic and authorities often turned a blind eye. Fascist Italy regarded the promotion of male sexual excitation before puberty as the cause of criminality amongst male youth. Fascist Italy declared homosexuality to be a social disease. Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce prostitution of young women.

Mussolini perceived women's primary role to be childbearers, while men were warriors, once saying, "war is to man what maternity is to the woman". In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families, and initiated policies designed to reduce the number of women employed. Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as "reproducers of the nation", and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women's role within the Italian nation. In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a "major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment" and that for women, working was "incompatible with childbearing". Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the "exodus of women from the work force".

The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house. This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour. The growth of Nazi power, however, was accompanied by a breakdown of traditional sexual morals with regard to extramarital sex and licentiousness.

The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy "pure" German, "Aryan" fetuses remained strictly forbidden. For non-Aryans, abortion was often compulsory. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the "progressive biomedical model" of Weimar Germany. In 1935 Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders. The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable, and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.

The Nazis argued that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted, and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children. They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by "normal" people and not just an abnormal minority. Open homosexuals were among those interned in Nazi concentration camps.

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