Mussolini's views towards Women

What beliefs did Mussolini hold towards women?

Importantly the main aim towards women was to encourage reproduction. This was to fit with the goals of expanding the Italian Empire, making Italians the dominant race and building a strong military for their expansionist policies. Other beliefs included...

  • Women should be submissive to their husbands.

  • Their work is in the home as they should be raising and looking after their family.

  • Women should be tender, gentle and caring towards their husbands.

  • Women shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  • Women must obey.

  • Women should not be intellectual; not receive higher education.

  • Women should bear children.

  • Women should be good wives and mothers– their main mission should be caring for their families and give birth.

  • Women should be subject to the authority of their husbands.

  • Women should not work as this distracts from reproduction

Mussolini had important views and policies towards certain areas of women's lives.

  1. Personal Life:

  • Women should be housewives and give birth in order to increase the population for future military strength.

  • Women should be of well-rounded and sturdy appearance, as he believed this was better for them as mothers.

  • The state criticised cosmetics, high heels, trousers for women, foreign fashion and negro & rhythm dancing.

  • Fascists had a confused attitude towards sport…

    • They supported it due to the various health benefits and the fact that it promoted discipline and national pride.

    • They were against it as distracts women from giving birth, and that it encouraged lesbianism and female liberation.

    • Meanwhile, Mussolini feared and believed that certain sports, such as riding, skiing and cycling caused infertility.

  1. Employment:

  • Mussolini began to limit job opportunities for women in order to allow for more jobs for men.

  • This is because Fascists believed that women should not work but look after their family.

  • However, they were given some opportunities, such as the chance to serve on committees of The National Agency for Maternity and Childhood, known as ONMI, a state organisation established in 1925 to help disadvantaged mothers.

  1. Education:

  • They were expected to study living-related subjects that involved training to stay at home and become a housewife & mother.

  • Female educators were excluded from prestigious teaching positions, such as Latin, Italian, History and Philosophy.

  • The lack of job opportunities increased the number of women at University from 6% in 1914 to 15% in 1938.

  1. Politics (and Religion)

  • In 1925, the Fascist parliament gave women the right to vote in local elections, but as they formed a totalitarian state, women never had the opportunity to practice universal suffrage under the Fascists.

  • Pope Pius XI criticised the declining authority of men and stressed that the focus of women should be on consistently remaining obedient housewives and caring mothers.

Mussolini's Personal Relationships with Women

Three of Mussolini's relationships with women are most well-known.

Firstly, he had a wife, Rachele Mussolini, who he was married to from 1915 until his death, and had 5 children with.

Secondly, Margherita Sarfatti, who was actually a radical socialist and feminists, was one of his well-known mistresses.

Clara Petacci was the other, who he was with from 1936 until they were executed together on 28 April 1945.