Because the war destroyed so many lives and reshaped the international political order, it is understandable to view it as a catalyst for enormous changes in all aspects of life, including ideas about gender and the behaviour of women and men.
The messy reality of the lives of individual men and women is much harder to generalise about.
Even where women did not live with such daily reminders of war, states and agents of civil society invested considerable energy in trying to connect women who were not near war zones with the front lines via propaganda.
In addition, the scope and duration of the war meant that governments enlisted women in the war effort by reorganising basic aspects of their lives.
As was the case with all societal expectations about gender roles, individuals could take on or reject these assumptions.
Some women publicly embraced new access to traditionally male occupations and had no wish to relinquish them when the war was over.In addition, albeit with less novelty, invading armies ended up occupying swathes of territory.Civilian women and men in Belgium, the north and east of France, Serbia, and parts of the Russian empire among other locales came under the control of occupying powers.There were visible changes in European politics, society, and culture but also a certain degree of continuity.Most notably, the aftermath of the war witnessed women gaining voting rights in many nations for the first time.By rationing, governments could alter the food women could obtain and eat; by imposing censorship, they tried to restrict the information they could know or share.The waging of the war placed enormous expectations upon able-bodied men in the prime of life to serve in the military and upon their female counterparts to contribute to the war effort in many ways, in addition to maintaining their domestic roles.Socially, certain demographic trends that were prevalent before the war persisted after it.Family sizes continued to shrink despite renewed anxiety about falling birth rates and ongoing insistence on the significance of motherhood for women and their nations.Male dissent from gender norms was not so readily accepted.While pacifist or antimilitarist actions by women could be understood, if not excused, as stemming from expectations that women desired peace above all, similar expressions by men, such as their taking on the new role of the conscientious objector in Britain, could call into question their very masculinity.