An Idiot's Guide to Mussolini

Women in fascist society were to be ‘submissive women and strong mothers’. At school and in fascist youth organisations this role was highly emphasised to young girls. For Mussolini, the ideal woman would be a peasant, living in the countryside, happy to raise her large family according to traditional values – much like his own wife, Rachele.

After the reconciliation between the church and the fascist regime, the aims and policies of Mussolini towards the family were strongly reinforced by Catholic teachings on issues such as motherhood, birth control and abortion. In 1930 Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical, Casti Conubi, to re-state the importance of parental authority and discipline in the home.

Fascist propaganda liked to denounce the slim, sophisticated modern woman, and idealised the rounded, maternal, submissive wife and mother, but many Italian women wanted to look like fashion models and films stars they saw at the…

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