Kinder, Küche, Kirche

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Kinder, Küche, Kirche (German: [ˈkɪndɐ ˈkʏçə ˈkɪʁçə]), or the 3 Ks, is a German slogan translated as “children, kitchen, church”. At the present time it has a derogative connotation describing an antiquated female role model. The phrase is vaguely equivalent to the English Barefoot and pregnant.

The origins[edit]

The phrase started to appear in writing in the early 1890s. "After Germany, where women apparently take no interest in public affairs, and seem to obey to the letter the young emperor's injunction "Let women devote themselves to the three K's, -- die Küche, die Kirche, die Kinder" (kitchen, church, and children), the active interest and influence of English women on all great questions were refreshing." wrote Marie C. Remick in A Woman's Travel-notes on England in 1892.[1] The phrase then was used multiple times throughout the 1890s in liberal writing and speeches.

In August 1899 the influential British liberal Westminster Gazette elaborated on the story, mentioning, as well, the 4th "K". A story titled "The American Lady and the Kaiser. The Empress's four K's"[2] describes an audience given by the Kaiser to two American suffragettes. After hearing them out, the Kaiser replies: "I agree with my wife. And do you know what she says? She says that women have no business interfering with anything outside the four K's. The four K's are – Kinder, Küche, Kirche, and Kleider: Children, Kitchen, Church, and Clothing".[3]

Kaiser's 4 K's is encountered again in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1911 book The man-made world.[4] The "3 K's" variation has remained by far more popular and well known.

Third Reich[edit]

The phrase was never used by the officials of the Nazi Third Reich.[citation needed] In fact, Adolf Hitler felt scorn for Wilhelm II who, he believed, contributed to Germany's greatest defeat. The English-speaking world, however, transferred its association of the "3 K's" with Germany to the Nazi regime.[citation needed]

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he introduced a Law for the Encouragement of Marriage, which entitled newly married couples to a loan of 1000 marks (around 9 months' average wages at that time). On their first child, they could keep 250 marks. On their second, they could keep another 250. They reclaimed all of the loan by their fourth child.

In a September 1934 speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization, Adolf Hitler argued that for the German woman her “world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home”,[5] a policy which was reinforced by the stress on "Kinder" and "Küche" in propaganda, and the bestowal of the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies.

During this period, women were discriminated against in employment and forced out or bribed with numerous social benefits. Medicine, the law and civil service were occupations reserved for men alone.[6]

In one of his essays, T. S. Eliot reproduces and then comments upon a column in the Evening Standard of May 10, 1939 headed "'Back to the Kitchen' Creed Denounced":

Miss Bower of the Ministry of Transport, who moved that the association should take steps to obtain the removal of the ban (i.e. against married women Civil Servants) said it was wise to abolish an institution which embodied one of the main tenets of the Nazi creed – the relegation of women to the sphere of the kitchen, the children and the church.
The report, by its abbreviation, may do less than justice to Miss Bower, but I do not think that I am unfair to the report, in finding the implication that what is Nazi is wrong, and need not be discussed on its own merits. Incidentally, the term ‘relegation of women’ prejudices the issue. Might one suggest that the kitchen, the children and the church could be considered to have a claim upon the attention of married women? or that no normal married woman would prefer to be a wage-earner if she could help it? What is miserable is a system that makes the dual wage necessary.[7]

During World War II in Germany, women eventually were put back in the factories because of the growing losses in the armed forces and the desperate lack of equipment on the front lines.

Post-World War II[edit]

The phrase continued to be used in feminist and anti-feminist writing in the English-speaking world in the 1950s and '60s. So, notably, the first version of the classic feminist paper by Naomi Weisstein "Psychology Constructs the Female"[8] was titled "Kinder, Küche, Kirche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Unitarian, a monthly magazine of liberal christianity. 
  2. ^ The American Lady and the Kaiser. The Empress's four K's, in: Westminster Gazette, 17. 8. 1899, S. 6.
  3. ^ Paletschek, Sylvia, Kinder – Küche – Kirche
  4. ^ Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The man-made world; or, Our Androcentirc Culture. New York, Charton Co., 1911. 
  5. ^ Doramus, Max, The Complete Hitler. A Digital Desktop Reference to His Speeches & Proclamations, 1932-1945 (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1990), 532
  6. ^ Spartacus Educational
  7. ^ T. S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture. 
  8. ^ "N. Weisstein, Psychology Constructs the Female".