Last week I attended a talk by Professor Yvonne Tasker, from the school of film and television studies, UEA titled - Recruitment and Containment: Hollywood Celebrates Military Women in WW2. It was a really interesting look at how Hollywood encouraged and actually glamourised the idea of of joining the ranks.
The talk opened with the cover of Life magazine (August 1941) that you see above. Life magazine was a well respected and much read publication. This cover is a powerful piece of imagery that caused a bit of a stir, the subject of women serving in what was at the time a mans world, was much debated - especially in America.
There was the argument that women couldn't possibly do what a man could and for the few that were able to? Well they obviously weren't real women were they?! So women were dammed if they could and dammed if they couldn't! Of course back here in Britain it wasn't really a choice for most women to volunteer for work or join the services. I wonder of having the choice taken a way actually made it easier - because getting stuck in was exactly what was expected of us?
In America recruitment campaigns were run with posters that used not just patriotic language, but words of inspiration and promises of personal growth, development, travel and freedom. Some of these posters were used in the talk, others I've found whilst researching myself. It's essentially really quite a fascinating marketing campaign.
|Pulling on the star spangled heart strings|
|The proud folks|
|''I'd rather be with them than waiting'' was a popular slogan.|
Films were reinforcing the messages on these posters, with females taking on roles that saw their characters become strong ballsy women as they experienced life in the forces. Women were being shown as strong, confident and improved - all whilst wearing a uniform and doing their bit for the war.
In parts of America it must have been like an uprising - as women saw posters and had on screen imagery of the posters promises in action. For some women it would have been an escape route out of the life they knew, with joining up being a way to change their destiny.
The talk included stills and clips from several films, most of which I hadn't heard of - so if you feel like watching some films that cover women at war really well (as advised by the Professor - and after such a fantastic talk, I trust her advice on this!) here's some to add to your DVD list:
This Above All (1942)
So Proudly We Hail (1943)
Up In Arms (1944)
Marine Raiders (1944)
Here Come The Waves (1944)
Keep Your Powder Dry (1945)