The film magazines of the first Francoism encouraged an ideal of sexual and family morality that was contradictory to the values of the regime

The main Spanish film magazines of the first Francoism played a relevant role in the informal education of women and in the creation of a family ideal different from that of the regime, since, although they spread the national-Catholic ideal of femininity focused on domesticity and motherhood, by showing situations such as the divorce of foreign actresses, especially from Hollywood, allowed us to learn about new realities that influenced the worldview of Spanish women. The article has been published by Álvaro Álvarez, doctor from the University of Valencia, in the magazine Historia y Memoria de la Educación.

"Likewise, another great battlefield in the indoctrination of women was that of sexual morality. But again, by simultaneously employing the display of the female body, in pseudo-erotic photographs, for male visual pleasure, they opened the possibility that some women could transform that image conceived as an object of desire into a potentially active sexual subject", explains Élvaro. Alvarez.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Primer plano, Radiocinema, Cámara, Imágenes and Fotogramas were the five most prominent and long-lived titles of this type of press, aimed primarily at women, also focused on fashion, cosmetics, cooking or decoration and aimed at readers with a high purchasing power, but in the United States it had "large circulations and notable social influence".

Thus, apart from the official models of idealised women (virgins, saints, queens and other historical figures), others emerged: film stars, who, due to their enormous popularity at a time when cinema was the great mass entertainment, "they would gain as much or more relevance than the previous ones", explains Élvaro Élvarez, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of the University of Valencia until three months ago.

These actresses projected an image of femininity that did not conform to national Catholic canons, where women were subordinated to men and were reduced to the private sphere, marriage and motherhood. Magazines, on the contrary, turned film stars into a media phenomenon, which dealt with their public career, but also their private sphere, in which tensions and contradictions emerged around gender roles and family expectations in cases such as marital failures or even during courtship, as occurred in the romantic relationship between Amparo Rivelles and Alfredo Mayo, "a seventeen-year-old girl, an expression of sympathy and he, the fashionable heartthrob of Spanish cinema, the prototype of Franco’s hero and who was jilted as the most coveted suitor in Spain almost at the foot of the altar", explains Élvaro Élvarez.

In the Spanish case, readers had the ability to reinterpret and reappropriate the images and messages transmitted by movie stars, which generated disruptive and divergent readings of the proposed ideal of femininity. If the regime used Hollywood movie stars to extol the superiority of Spanish tradition over cosmopolitan modernity, through the image of female stars, readers could identify and try to imitate both their physical appearance, clothing, and their attitudes and behaviors.

In this sense, information monitoring also occurred when the family grew. "Perhaps the most rounded story was the one starring the actors José María Seoane and Rosita Yarza", recalls Élvaro Élvarez. This was narrated by the press from the moment they declared their relationship until the birth of their children and also showed their peaceful family life, although the actress continued with her professional career, with filming or theatre tours that for a time separated her from her offspring, which clashed with the Franco ideal of family.

Article reference : Élvarez Rodrigo, Élvaro. (2024). ’¡Mujer! Quiero hablar contigo’. The construction of femininity through the fan magazines during the Early Francoism. Historia y Memoria de la Educación , (19), 437’469 . https://doi.org/10.5944/hme.19.­2024.36539