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The Concept of Masculinity and Femininity

The concept of masculinity and femininity varies from place to place. But men are always considered as strong and powerful and women as weak and submissive. Men are always demanded to be hard-hearted and merciless otherwise they will be a joke for the society. It can be depicted in the story by George Orwell[1]. This story gives a true picture of how men always react to situations according to the norms even if they don’t want to behave in a particular way. The concept of masculinity or femininity started to change in late 19th and early 20th century. World War I began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. It was a conflict between central powers consisting of countries like Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria and allied powers like Romania, Great Britain, Italy, France, Japan and USA.

When the war broke out America remained neutral, but when it became hard for the USA to stay neutral, America declared war. This was the time when The United States sent millions of soldiers to war. “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier” was a song released in 1915. It was a cry of every mother in USA who was opposing US participation in the war. On the other hand, militarists including American President Theodore Roosevelt replied to the popular song and said that the song should be “I didn’t rise my daughter to be a mother”.

The first movement of feminism can be traced back to 1840, but it started to gain prominence in the United States and Europe in the 20th century[2]. US participation in World War I was an important event which changed the concept of masculinity and femininity. The reply to the famous song depicts that people of men of USA wanted women to be strong and brave. In the past the general perception of people about women was that women are weak and sensitive, they are the delicate creature of nature. On the other hand, the qualities of the male are strong, tough and passionate[3]. The event of World War I compelled the women to change their attributes of being weak and emotional.

The war not only changed the general characteristics of female only but of men also Leo Braudy in his book was of the view that in the past the fights used to be different where men used to fight face to face with swords. Now with the use of guns and artillery has changed the meaning of fight which was once associated with honour. World War I changed masculinity or femininity also when women started working in the industries. This was the event which changed the concept that women are only capable of staying at the house and look after their family. World War 1 was an event which gave women of the west opportunity to work and earn for their families. It changed the whole social-cultural and economic system of Europe and The United States. In west women started to raise their voice for equal rights and were successful in achieving the right to vote. So it will not be wrong to consider World War I as an event which changed the concept of masculinity and femininity.


Krolokke, Charlotte, and Anne Scott Sorensen. “Three Waves of Feminism: From Suffragettes to Grrls.” Gender Communication Theories & Analyses: From Silence to Performance, 2006, 1–25.

Orwell, George, Ari Kernerman, and Ari Kernerman. Shooting an Elephant. Yehud Comprehensive High School, 1969.

Spence, Janet T., and Robert L. Helmreich. Masculinity and Femininity: Their Psychological Dimensions, Correlates, and Antecedents. University of Texas Press, 1979.

  1. George Orwell, Ari Kernerman, and Ari Kernerman, Shooting an Elephant (Yehud Comprehensive High School, 1969).
  2. Charlotte Krolokke and Anne Scott Sorensen, “Three Waves of Feminism: From Suffragettes to Grrls,” Gender Communication Theories & Analyses: From Silence to Performance, 2006, 1–25.
  3. Janet T. Spence and Robert L. Helmreich, Masculinity and Femininity: Their Psychological Dimensions, Correlates, and Antecedents (University of Texas Press, 1979). ↑



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