The World War I is one of the first examples of total wars, i.e. such influencing almost all regions of the globe and affecting all people regardless of their social class or background. It shifted hundreds of thousands of lives away imposing even greater impact on those who were not involved in front activities and infinite armed hostilities. Nevertheless, there are several perspectives for viewing the outcomes of the First World War, as they differ across nations, genders, and social classes. Therefore, the paper at hand aims at investigating the role of men and women in wartime, relationship between people with different socioeconomic backgrounds, and the burden of expectations and moral responsibilities put on citizens across the globe.
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Different Roles of Men and Women in Wartime
Gender differences existed long before the outburst of the First World War and their influence was not diminished during the wartime. It is essential to note that, in this case, an emphasis is put on the civilian population that was mobilized to witness the atrocities of armed hostilities. The role of men was evident across the globe, as they were pressed to become involved in military operations. From this perspective, the primary sources are limited, as not all men sent at the front. For instance, some of them served as doctors, while the others could not be mobilized due to significant health concerns. Nevertheless, it is true that their role was seen in the protection of the civilian population and sovereignty of their states as well as the global peace.
On the other hand, the role of women in wartime was ambiguous, as it varied from military activities to moral support. It is critical to point to the fact that the burden imposed on women differed around the globe. For instance, in most countries they were chosen for playing the role of support, i.e. acting like nurses, while in Russia, there were whole battalions made up of women only, who were engaged in infinite armed hostilities. Moreover, in Germany women were called to drive the economy by replacing men in traditionally men-led industries such as manufacturing and military-related sectors of the German economy. In this way, the primary sources became a valuable channel of information because I was not aware of all-female battalions and thought the role of women was limited to becoming nurses.
At the same time, it is vital to mention what is referred to as the home front. In fact, it involves all women who were not directly engaged in wartime activities. However, they experienced a significant influence of the war and their contribution to supporting soldiers should not be underestimated. These women had a moral obligation of countenance, as they were left at home to wait for their husbands, sons, and fathers. This role of women was promoted by a variety of songs and posters, which pointed to the internal power of women and called upon them to stay cheerful and keep their home fires burning, as this knowledge supported their men at front.
The Influence of Propaganda Posters on the Roles of Men and Women in Wartime
The roles of men and women were widely promoted in propaganda posters. They were designed in a way to point to the functions of all members of society. One of appropriate examples of such propaganda posters is that demonstrated in the source 20.2A. It was drawn in the 1915 Great Britain. The picture is simple and the message is concise. Nevertheless, it has a robust promotional impact on society. The message is as simple as “The women of Britain say ‘Go.’” It points to the role of both men and women in wartime. It means that men were pointed to their straight-line responsibility of protecting their wives, mothers, daughters, and the motherland. On the other hand, women were requested to let their husbands, fathers, and sons become involved in military activities. At the same time, in my opinion, it had a significant influence on international promotion of the role of men and women and their contribution to finding global peace. In other words, women of other countries were called to motivate their men to become engaged in military operations, thus hastening the end of the war.
Relationship Between Social Classes in Wartime
Even though the First World War had a robust impact on all social classes without exception, the relationship between the, was unstable and constantly changing. This assumption is either directly pointed to or implied in the last two sources. For instance, it is stated that as the economies faced the shortage of male power, women were called to replace them in order to provide men at the front with needed products such as howitzer shells and bags for cartridges. However, it is essential to note that educated women made up a minuscule share of those volunteering to support the military-related industries and plants either due to the lack of experience or their arrogance. Nevertheless, in case of volunteering, they were always backed up by ordinary workers who helped educated women to develop skills necessary for coping with required tasks.
At the same time, grocery and physical vulnerability is directly pointed to in one of the Berlin Police Report. Even though social classes are not mentioned explicitly, it is possible to assume that everyone faced a severe need for food products and was harshly treated in case of causing disturbances of public order regardless of age and belonging to a particular social class.
So, as demonstrated above, the First World War had a robust impact on the lives of each member of society across the globe. Either directly or indirectly, it affected millions of lives and destinies, dictating rules for existence and survival. Also, it is essential to state that even though short sources are valuable for obtaining superficial knowledge regarding the roles of men and women in wartime, as well as the relationship between social classes, they are never enough for gaining an in-depth understanding of the studied issue.