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The Lost Wave: Women and Democracy in Postwar Italy


The Lost Wave: Women and Democracy in Postwar Italy Cover


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As Italy emerged from World War II, the first women entered the national government. The 45 women who became parliamentarians when Italian women were first entitled to vote in 1946 represented a "lost wave" of feminist action, argues Molly Tambor.

In this work, Tambor reconstructs the role that these female politicians played in Italy's new democratic Republic. They proved critical in ensuring that the new Constitution formally guaranteed the equality of all citizens regardless of sex, translating the general constitutional guarantees into direct legislative rights and protections. They used a specific electoral and legislative strategy, "constitutional rights feminism," to construct an image of the female citizen as a bulwark of democracy. Mining existing tropes of femininity such as the Resistance heroine, the working mother, the sacrificial Catholic, and the "mamma Italiana," they searched for social consensus for women's equality that could reach across religious, ideological, and gender divides. The political biographies of woman politicians are intertwined with the history of the laws they created and helped pass, including paid maternity leave, the closing of state-run brothels, and women's right to become judges.

Women politicians navigated gendered political identity as they picked and chose among competing models of femininity in Cold War Italy. In so doing, The Lost Wave shows, they forged a political legacy that affected the rights and opportunities of all Italian citizens.

About the Author

Molly Tambor is Assistant Professor of History at Long Island University.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Women, the Bulwark of Democracy

1. "An Essential Way of Life": The Political Awakening of Women Militants

2. Gender Roles in Italy's Elections and Constitution

3. Legge Noce for Working Mothers: "Madonna Tempesta"

4. The Merlin Law against the Case Chiuse: Taking the State Out of Sex, Putting the Sex in Citizenship

5. Both the Rights and the Duties of Citizenship: The Cocco Law for Access to All Public Careers

Conclusion: The Legacy of the Lost Wave and Constitutional Rights Feminism




Product Details

Tambor, Molly
Oxford University Press, USA
History, World | European | Italy
World History-Italy
Publication Date:
6.4 x 9.3 x 1.1 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » World History » Italy

The Lost Wave: Women and Democracy in Postwar Italy New Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199378234 Reviews:
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