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Fearless and Fit: American Women of the Cold War


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10809

Fearless and Fit: American Women of the Cold War

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Title: Fearless and Fit: American Women of the Cold War
Author: Dahl, Heather J.
Advisor(s): Scharff, Virginia
Committee Member(s): Slaughter, M. Jane
Smith, Jason
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of History
Subject: History
Cold War
LC Subject(s): Physical fitness for women--United States--History--20th century
Physical fitness for women--United States--Social aspects
Cold War--Influence
Cold War--Social aspects--United States
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: During the Cold War, fitness concerns reached new heights. At the start of the Cold War, Americans became concerned that they were not fit enough to compete with the Soviets. Both governments encouraged citizens to become physically fit. The American government concerned itself with “soft” corporate men and physically unfit youth. The Soviet government continued to emphasize physical culture, as a natural byproduct of Communism. Though American society idealized women for feminine virtues, both women and men craved fitness and strength, offering an opportunity for women to circumvent the typical stereotypes of Cold War femininity. Some women participated in cultural exchange competitions and Olympic Games. The press focused on the unfeminine characteristics of Soviet women athletes, but found that Cold War victory required more than femininity. The United States needed improved athletic performances from American women to prevail in Cold War sports showdowns. Therefore, the Cold War, indirectly but profoundly, opened up new possibilities for women.
Graduation Date: May 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10809

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