A New Female Force

in War's Waste

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780226482538
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226482552 | DOI:
A New Female Force

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  • History of the Americas


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This chapter employs the story of the rise of wartime physical therapy to show how the rehabilitation project relied on women to serve both as war symbols and workers, despite the fact that the two roles often came into conflict. Physiotherapists became role models of how women should respond to the war wounded in the new, post-pension era of rehabilitation. Female therapists were able to knead, mold, and stroke the male body without any suggestion of impropriety. Wartime physiotherapists belittled the work of occupational therapy, characterizing it as a “pleasant handicraft that can be picked up in a few spare hours.” They made rubbing respectable because of the therapeutic encounter that involved an element of pain. Physiotherapists stood apart from other female war workers due to their treatments that frequently aroused pain and shame in their patients.

Keywords: wartime physical therapy; rehabilitation; women; wartime physiotherapists; female therapists; pain

Chapter.  6984 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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