War had had the effect of focusing attention upon women in general and young women in particular, and after 1918 the popular press regarded them as eminently newsworthy. Many contemporaries believed that the whole experience had unsettled the relations between the sexes leading thereby to a debate over the proper roles of men and women in peacetime. In this debate we can distinguish three broad views. Many men and some prominent anti-feminist women, reacting sharply against the entire wartime experience, simply wanted everything put back in its proper place; thus men must recover lost ground in employment and women devote themselves to their homes. The magazine Home Chat breathed a sigh of relief: ‘Now we are feminine again’. A second and intermediate position was held by those women, including many feminists, who had long accepted the fundamental differences between the sexes. For them war had not changed anything so much as sharpened their perception of the relations between men and women. While it was a matter for satisfaction that women had sustained the war effort, war itself was the especial work, indeed crime, of man; as women their responsibility lay in using their political power for peace and conciliation in the post-war world. This approach culminated in the kind of argument used by Mary Stocks, an articulate critic of ‘equal rights’ feminism between the wars, when she contended that no sensible woman would wish to take equality to the length of joining her country’s armed forces on the same footing as men.
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