chapter  3
Physical Survival
Pages 22

To observe that women took the main responsibility in most house­ holds for the physical survival o f its members during the war would be neither surprising no r particularly new. Few were able, like one female m ember of the Resistance group Defense de la France, to reject the idea o f queuing and rely on others to do it for them .2 The oral and documentary sources indicate unequivocally that most women, unless they were lucky enough to have someone else who was p repared to do it for them , were involved in these activities at least to some degree - in any case more so than the men, who, if they were present, almost always had women around who did this kind of work for them. This chapter will argue that although personal wealth played an im portan t part, physical survival was intensely gendered and was a key factor in women’s experience of the war. Furtherm ore, women’s activities and everyday lives were affected by the following variables: first, by the efficiency or lack of it of the local authorities and the structures that were pu t in to place to ensure the fair distribution of food and household stuffs; secondly,

by women’s capacity to mobilize o ther skills and find o ther strategies for survival, which often m eant that they could find themselves in a situation of illegality o r part o f a counter-culture simply by attempt­ ing to do their best for their families and continuing with their daily lives; and thirdly, by their relationship with their men.