ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

From Motherly Nature to Sex Appeal: Gender and Citizenship in Icelandic Context in a Historical Perspective

Open Panel

Abstract

One important aspect of gendered social citizenship is expressed through symbolic representations of femininity. Images of femininity in our times have interesting similarities with those at the beginning of the 20th century. The paper address the similarities of the notions of womanhood in the Icelandic context between the period 1900-1930 and 1980 to our times. Iceland had a strong women’s movement at the beginning of the 20th century. The gains of the women’s movement during this period were counteracted by maternalism and housewife ideology, based on conservative nationalism. Contemporary Icelandic context has seen interesting parallels. The struggle for women’s rights has increased the participation of women in the public and political sphere. This has, however, provoked an opposition which emphasizes and revitalizes exaggerated gender relations. The special womanhood nowadays does however not primarily consist of the special motherly nature, but the womanly sex-appeal. In the last decades we have seen a steadily growing emphasis on women’s sexuality and their sexual nature, which has become one of the principal defining factors of what it means to be a woman. In the paper today’s ‘sex-appeal discourse’ is compared and contrasted to the ideology of motherhood that became dominant after 1930. Nationalist ideology is still in place while conservatism has been replaced by neo-liberalism and the notion of free will. It is suggested that both can be framed as a discursive reaction to the women’s movement and women’s political agency, and hence, a factor that circumscribes women’s social citizenship.