Military Recruitment

Prior to World War Two the military had been a completely male establishment, but with the war came change. The idea that the military could actually use female volunteers within the military brought much controversy with it. By allowing women to enter the military it mean working against feminine ideals that America had spent so long building, teaching them that there place was at home in the kitchen. Once Pearle Harbour was attack though the United States become fully aware that they were going to need all the help that they could muster in order to win this war, so they turned to women in hopes that they would join the military.

The most common posture of women with the military recruitment posters, as seen as the one to the left, was of a woman looking forward, head held high, chin up, and shoulders pulled back. The women in these recruitment posters were not being portrayed as fragile and beautiful females, they were now being depicted as bold an independent. they often stood alone within these posters to show their independence. These posters were meant to display how proud women should be to join the military and serve their country. In many of these posters they also use patriotism to heighten the pride women were supposed to feel at the prospect of joining the military and serving their country. The women are often displayed in front of a flag to remind them how much their country is supposed to mean to them.

The military recruitment posters were meant to appeal not to women that wanted to find men within the army such as the nursing recruitment posters did, but rather, they were directed at women that were looking for an adventure in their live. Many of the posters, such as the WAVES poster,as can be seen to the right, had depictions of action taking place behind the women in the poster. These boats in the background are supposed to symbolizing that the women may have the opportunity to travel overseas and see the world. the women are also usually shown in action, not sitting down.  They are  meant to be showing women that if they were to join the military they would be going somewhere with their lives. Many women during this time had not had the option to travel much in their lives, especially considering that they had just emerged out of the great depression, the military decided to take advantage of this idea.  While in reality very few women were actually shipped over seas in the military, the military still use the potential of travel as an attractive feature of the military. These posters where primarily intended to be seen by young girls who still lived at home with their parents and wanted freedom to get out and see the world, they were not intended for women that had spouses and families to worry about.

Many women also joined the military because of the respect that they believed that they would receive from joining it. Some military recruitment posters featured women with medals that they were capable of earning while they were in the forces. Others such poster as the one to the left showed women that they would be the idols and role models of younger girls. the poster below reminds women of the honours that they could achieve within the military as well. These women would be blazing a new trail that women had not been able to do prior to this and because of their ambitions they would earn respect.

Some posters portrayed women doing support roles within the military such as a typist, clerk or assistants, these posters were known as “free the men to fight” posters. They were meant to show women that they could be making a difference in the war effort by allowing more men to go to war and beat the enemy instead of them being stuck behind a desk at a job that a woman could be doing. They were meant to invoke both guilt and a sense of duty.

In other “free the men to fight” posters women were portrayed as holding exciting and prestigious jobs. They were shown taking notes on a clipboard as a pilot is waiting to take off, inspecting parachutes to insure that the were up to standards, working as an air traffic control operator, manning watchtowers, and some even showed women operating anti-aircraft guns. These could be seen as exciting positions to some women seeing as they were not being offered the same opportunities at home. While there were cases of women getting more exciting and higher ranking jobs then desk clerks and secretaries they were not common. The military was still a man’s world and the jobs would go to men first, even if the women had better experience then the men.



A final way that the military tried to recruit women to join the military was through the idea that if they joined then the war would be over sooner and they would be able to bring loved ones home sooner. like in other forms of propaganda directed at women they were trying to invoke guilt in women and provoke the idea that women were not doing enough in the war effort.





The military still had many problem recruiting women into different areas of the military, partly due to the fierce rumours that were circulating around the positions. In the beginning of the war there were rumours that members of WAC were constantly drunk and the true purpose of their position within the military was to serve as prostitutes for the officers. While these rumours were false they still greatly discouraged women from wanting to be a part of the military. The United States government say these rumours as such a problem that they chose to investigate the source of their origin believing that it must be Nazi propaganda. At the end on the government’s investigation them came to realize that it was service men within their own military that had been spreading the rumours because they did not like the idea of have women within the military. The military was facing it own turmoil with women now joining the army and they would have to get over the growing pain in the next centuries.

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