By Nicolas Oikonomides
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True to the Republican Mother ideology of selfless service to the nation through maternal caring and charity, Courson’s godmother remains anonymous, expecting no recognition for nurturing her adopted son. . 42 The commentators acknowledged some problems with the godmother program, but dismissed the accusations directed at the women as exaggerations of innocent “flirtations” or too infrequent to be of consequence. It is significant that while criticism of soldiers on any subject is exceedingly rare, Courson, de Vismes and Berthem-Bontoux all deflected censure of the women by placing responsibility for abuse with the men.
7)43 The difficult first few months of the war found journalists deliberating the level of France’s state of readiness, and women were among the targets of their speculations concerning the reasons for the beginning of the war. As in other subjects of debate involving women, the defenders invoked maternal and patriotic imagery, while detractors alleged selfishness or impugned the moral conduct of the women. Many of these writers blamed an extended period of peace and prosperity for creating a generation of selfish women, unduly naive in their faith in internationalism or too mired in the pursuit of individual pleasures to fulfill their duties to the nation.
They, along with most feminists, supported the heightened emphasis on increasing birthrates as a means to offset the casualties for the future economic and military defense of France. Few agreed with the political analysis of maternity voiced earlier in the century by neo-Malthusians like Nelly Roussel and reiterated during the war by a few anarchists and radical feminists. The majority of French feminists maintained their traditional support for a feminine identity defined by a connection between biological specificity and civic responsibility.
Les listes de préséance byzantines des IXe et Xe siècles by Nicolas Oikonomides