The German occupation of France brought about many changes in the lives of the people living in France. Although the French government continued having legal authority over the country as per specified in the Franco-German Armistice, the occupied zone was in reality under German military administration. Meanwhile, the “free zone” was undergoing numerous changes that affected the French population, especially women and their role in society. Vichy France, as the French government under Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II was called, utilized women as scapegoats for the occupation. According to Vichy’s propaganda, the role of women in French society should be that of a mother and a wife. In order to correct what they perceived as deleterious for the country, the Vichy government passed a series of laws and incentives to ensure women’s role as a stay-home wife and men’s role as the bread-winner and head of the family. These laws that gave priority to men in the working world went as far as qualifying women as legally incapacitated to work. However, many women believed that they’re duties to their country went beyond being a wife and a mother and joined the Resistance against the German occupation.
During my presentation, I will discuss the effects these laws had on women’s lives during the occupation period. I will also address the impact these laws had on women’s role in French society as well as some of the gender inequality issues made apparent by the imposition of this new norm. Finally, I will talk about some female figures that, in one way or another, rebelled against what was expected from them under this new society.