SHARON HARRIS The momentum for women's admittance to medical colleges had begun in earnest in the 1850s. While women's professional advancement may have been stymied to an extent by the outbreak of war in 1861, the need for medical assistance on the battlefield and the extraordinary loss of men's lives during the war years resulted in a paradoxical attitude toward women physicians in the postwar years. On the one hand, women had demonstrated their abilities to face the most arduous aspects of existence during the war; on the other, the tradition of women as domestic helpmates was revitalized so that men could return to the jobs and public status they had held before the war. Even more complexly affecting women's advancement in medicine was the fact that the aftermath revealed a generation of men whose bodies had been ravaged by their war experiences: their bodies were maimed, their physiques were emaciated, and for some veterans a limb had been amputated.1 The cultural response to the refigured vision of masculinity as the disabled but stoically surviving warrior was a resurgent emphasis on women's femininity and the purity of their bodies. Concurrent with the elevation of the war veteran was
American Literary Realism – University of Illinois Press
Published: Sep 21, 2011
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