When Children Were Pawns of the State
When it came to engaging (and controlling) the children of Fascist Italy, the state media was intent on separating boys from girls, but only ideologically.
Boys were taught that fighting for the cause was a male requirement. One of the more famous Fascist slogans was “War is to the male what childbearing is to the female.” For girls giving birth was essential. Mothers who produced over a dozen children were treated to benefits by the Fascist government, including tax breaks. As members of the male youth organization, the Balilla, boys marched and used imitation guns. Mussolini believed in preparing the young “to a fight for life, but also for the nation.” Girls were raised to be mothers. Boys were raised to make girls into mothers.
As these publications attest, boys and girls were supposed to have separate cultural lives. The girls belonged to the Fascio Femminile and boys to the ONB (Opera Nationale Balilla). In each case behavior was dictated by the state and what they could and could not read and reflect upon was limited to propaganda that kept them in line.
Media was parsed out as it suited the regime, and although there was indeed a youthful look to the journals and papers, the entire process was strictly proscribed.
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