“The Women Behind the Men Behind the Gun”

Gendered Identities and Militarization in the Second World War

Authored by: Sarah Parry Myers

The Routledge History of Gender, War, and the U.S. Military

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138902985
eBook ISBN: 9781315697185
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315697185.ch6

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Abstract

Fluctuating gendered identity construction and the militarization of the body politic mark much of the historiography of World War II. Increasing types of work available to women and minorities meant more women entered the workforce than ever before and disrupted conceptions of traditional male work. A more intense disturbance resulted as women officially joined the military for the first time in American history. While women served in the military in previous U.S. wars, most had done so as civilians. 1 Adjusting to this ever-changing climate, the military and government regulated the sexuality of its citizens abroad, and the media flooded the public with propaganda about women’s work being domestic, feminine, and temporary. Known as a war with tremendous public support, American citizens’ involvement in the war effort came at a tremendous social and political cost.

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