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The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany

The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany

Katie Sutton
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany
    Book Description:

    Throughout the Weimar period the so-called "masculinization of woman" was much more than merely an outsider or subcultural phenomenon; it was central to representations of the changing female ideal, and fed into wider debates concerning the health and fertility of the German "race" following the rupture of war. Drawing on recent developments within the history of sexuality, this book sheds new light on representations and discussions of the masculine woman within the Weimar print media from 1918-1933. It traces the connotations and controversies surrounding this figure from her rise to media prominence in the early 1920s until the beginning of the Nazi period, considering questions of race, class, sexuality, and geography. By focusing on styles, bodies and identities that did not conform to societal norms of binary gender or heterosexuality, this book contributes to our understanding of gendered lives and experiences at this pivotal juncture in German history.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-121-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction “The Masculinization of Woman”
    (pp. 1-24)

    The “masculinization of woman” (Vermännlichung der Frau) was central to representations of the changing female ideal in post–World War I Germany. Indeed, so often were variations on this phrase cited in the 1920s popular media that it is safe to assume that it was a cliché that had burned itself well into the national psyche. A cartoon published in the satirical journalSimplicissimusin 1925, at a point when anxieties about gender merging and female masculinization were reaching a climax, exemplifies this phenomenon. Entitled “Lotte at the Crossroads,” it depicts a slender, short-haired woman in masculine jacket and tie,...

  6. Chapter 1 “Which One Is the Man?” The Masculinization of Women’s Fashions
    (pp. 25-65)

    One of the most pervasive images from post–World War I Europe is that of the slender but muscular, short-haired, cigarette-sporting flapper in a low-waisted, curve-denying dress and simple cloche hat. The cultural, social, and political history of this decade is intricately bound up with what was being played out on the surface of women’s and men’s bodies—with the clothes they wore, how they cut their hair, and the accessories they chose. It was no accident that the unprecedented level of political and social mobility attained by German women by the early 1920s found its most visual representation in...

  7. Chapter 2 “In the Beginning There Was Sport”: The Masculinized Female Athlete
    (pp. 66-89)

    In this 1926 article from the popular periodicalDas Magazin, journalist Trude John draws clear links between the cultural phenomenon of the masculine woman and women’s growing participation in sport. Women’s masculinization is posited not merely as a matter of appearances and clothing, but as directly related to increasing levels of physical—and by extension, political—equality with men. This chapter examines how popular discourses surrounding women’s athleticism in the Weimar period responded to changing ideas about gendered roles and capabilities. As with the conservative backlash against masculine women’s fashions in the 1920s German media, critiques of the masculinized female...

  8. Chapter 3 “My Emil Is Different”: Queer Female Masculinities in the Weimar Media
    (pp. 90-125)

    In this poem, written in rough Berlin dialect and published in the homosexual women’s magazineDie Freundin, “Emil’s” brand of masculinity—faithful, reliable, and loving—is presented as not only far superior to that of the average guy, but as achievable only by a woman. This chapter examines how popular stereotypes of the masculine woman were reevaluated within the subcultural media, and how contributors to magazines such asDie FreundinandGarçonneactively negotiated identity categories such as “virile”/”feminine,” “homosexual,” and “transvestite,” in order to produce positive models of nonheteronormative or “queer” existence, visibility, and sexual relationships. These subcultural sources...

  9. Chapter 4 The Trouser Role: Female Masculinity as Performance
    (pp. 126-150)

    The most literal and least controversial embodiment of female masculinity in Weimar popular culture involved women dressing and acting as men for the sake of theatrical or cinematic performance, a phenomenon known as the “trouser role” orHosenrolle. Clothing functions as a powerful signifier of gender, and cross-dressing in particular can have a symbolic significance that goes far beyond the garments themselves: Chris Straayer observes that the “representation and containment of gender by clothing and other visual systems offer gender as a construction susceptible to manipulation by cross-dressing, drag, and masquerade.”¹ The “manipulation” of gender proscriptions within the culturally sanctioned...

  10. Chapter 5 Beyond Berlin: Female Masculinities in Weimar Fiction
    (pp. 151-180)

    In this excerpt from popular novelist Vicki Baum’s 1930 novelZwischenfall in Lohwinckel(Results of an Accident), we see the minor character Fräulein von Raitzold, a financially troubled member of the landed gentry in an isolated country town, enter into a tentative conversation about Berlin’s lesbian clubs with the exotic Lania, a would-be film star from the city who has found herself in Raitzold’s care following an automobile accident. The decidedly masculine Fräulein von Raitzold, who is elsewhere characterized as a pipe-smoking Amazon with a fondness for high riding boots, is having her first glimpse of a nonheterosexual community of...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-185)

    In April 1927Uhupublished a cartoon by Georg Robbe of a woman flying a light plane over the countryside, looking nervously over her shoulder at a large stork following close behind with a swaddled baby dangling from its beak, with the caption “There is always one flying behind her!” The accompanying verses by Theobald Tiger, one of the numerous pseudonyms of prominent satirist Kurt Tucholsky, lament the modern woman’s neglect of her maternal instincts and responsibilities. This image was reprinted in the same magazine in October 1933, nine months after the National Socialist seizure of power and at a...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 186-196)
  13. Index
    (pp. 197-204)