From Adventure and Advancement to Derailment and Demotion

Michelle Mouton is known for being an historian and an author of many books and articles having to deal with women’s history and social history. Having written several books and articles, she is known for a lot of them including the article named, “From Adventure and Advancement to Derailment and Demotion: Effects of Nazi Gender Policy on Women’s Careers and Lives”. This article was published by the Oxford University Press in the Journal of Social History in the year of 2010. The overall topic of this article is women lives and the Nazi gender policy in which it mostly focuses on the years starting from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The year of the 1920’s was an important year for women because during that time period women in general didn’t have many rights. Starting from the 1700’s the desire for woman rights begin but it wasn’t until 1848 when the first women’s rights convention took place and then not until another 70 years after that in 1920 after World War I when the 19th amendment was passed and woman were finally granted the right to vote. Even though being able to vote was a big deal, the 1920’s held many other opportunities for women when it came to education and careers and by the end of the 1920’s many women were going to college and even representing political committees.All throughout the 1920’s and in the beginning of the 1930’s were the greatest years for women living during that time. However, in the year of 1933 everything changed when the Nazis came to power and that’s when the “derailment and demotion” of women’s careers and lives truly began. By presenting women’s voices and perspectives throughout the article, Mouton is able to argue that the Nazi policy had varying effects on individual women’s lives. She is able to show that by using her primary source base comprised of interviews done with 10 women. Those 10 women were split into three different categories that represented women who already started their career when the policies changed, women who were ready to start to their careers and women who were still completing their higher education. With that being said, based on the changing Nazi policies different women based on their life and goals had to make different choices and decisions to advance their careers.Frau Gethmann was one of the first women Mouton mentions in the article that she interviewed. The lady explained that the new Nazi policies had no effect no on her career for two reasons. One being that she was very experienced and already far into her career when the new policies came about and the other reason being that her career of being a nurse was seen by the Nazis as appropriate work for woman. In another interview with a different woman by the name of Frau Muller the Nazi policies had the opposite effect on her career compared to Frau Gethmann. She graduated from law school 3 years after the policies came into play and during the exact year when women could no longer work in the legal profession. That being said this affected her goals and career significantly and she had to settle with pausing what she truly wanted to do and ending up marrying and having kids. For another woman by the name of Frau Kresting, she grew up having the Nazi ideas influenced on her at an early age in her life. Even though she thought she was doing what she wanted to do in life which was work with kids and being an athletic instructor, it wasn’t until she got older that she realized that because of Hitler and the Nazi policies that her life had turned out wrong. These interviews from the article show that for some women the new Nazi policies established in 1933 had no impact on their careers while for others it had a huge impact on their careers and caused them decisions that they wouldn’t have had made otherwise and that proves Mouton thesis.In the article Mouton uses the Methodology of women’s history. This type of approach to history is significant because firstly women make up half the population and anything that has to do with such a large part of the population should have importance. Also, it is significant because when compared to today even though women have made so much progress when it comes to our rights, we still don’t have “equal rights” as men and that is shown todays pay between men and women and the job opportunities between men and women. This article definitely relates to the themes that we have discussed in class. Firstly, this article relates to the theme of politics because of it being about Nazi gender policy. Nazi Germany is considered the time when Hitler played as a dictator through the Nazi party. If it wasn’t for the Nazi party and all their policies then all the struggles women had to go to for their careers wouldn’t have had happened. Another theme would definitely be government policy influences because after the Nazi polices were official in 1933, women who were still going to school during that time were influenced by the government and policies to pursue certain careers that would best benefit the Nazi. Reading a secondary source like this one really changed and contributed my understanding of history because I knew that woman didn’t have the same opportunities as men even up until now but I didn’t realize how much it took place in other countries because all I really knew was U.S. history when it came to women’s rights. This article really opened my eyes about all the struggles and hardships women had to go through and it makes me want to work harder to have a successful career for myself and for all the women who couldn’t do even though the y wanted to. In conclusion from reading this article I am curious to know some things. First, I want to know, what other countries in history or even today did women struggle with their rights? Why didn’t the all the women come together and protest against the Nazi gender policy? What influenced Michelle Mouton to write about this topic? Do women in Germany today still struggles with rights? Lastly did the women whose career wasn’t affected by the Nazi policies care about or want to help the women’s whose careers and goals were affected?

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