'Fit Only for the Scrap Heap': Rebuilding Returned Soldier Manhood in Australia After 1945

Publication year
Gender & History

Here's the abstract:

This paper examines the expert and popular discourses that sought to construct and disseminate the idea that Australia faced a masculinity crisis with the return of servicemen at the end of the Second World War. It explores how these discourses proposed a process of remasculinisation to ensure the successful reintegration of returning servicemen. These discourses were directed primarily at wives, mothers and fiancées, who were seen to bear the responsibility for rebuilding the manhood of returning men. Doctors played an important role in producing this prevailing discourse on the looming post-war masculinity crisis, identifying its symptoms and proposing solutions. This crisis discourse filtered into popular culture through many means, predominantly, however, advice literature and romance fiction. While some of these expert and popular discourses constructed a backward looking ideal of domesticity for women, romance fiction in particular explored more modern possibilities of companionate marriage. The dissemination of a discourse about an impending masculinity crisis created different possibilities for the reconstruction of relations between men and women. The remasculinisation project could look both backwards (through ideals of women's subservience to damaged men) and forwards (through notions of marriage as a partnership) in imagining post war gender relations.

A later paper by Garton, which does mention some romances though that's not the focus, as in this paper, offers a contrasting picture of the post-war fiction written primarily for men.