Roles of American Women During World War II

1144 Words Mar 7th, 2004 5 Pages
(From a film and lecture course, covering the segment "Women and World War II")

Roles of American Women in World War II

Essay Two

During World War II, Hollywood films strongly influenced the roles American women played, both while men were away and directly after they returned. These films often sent the message that while their men were away, women must be romantically loyal and keep a secure home for the men to return to. The films also often encouraged women to do their patriotic duty and their part in the war effort by doing war work.

In the film "Since You Went Away" the main character Ann is an example of these ideals. She is faithful to her husband, even when tempted by another, and struggles to keep her home in order while
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Film was a huge influence in people 's lives at the time, and on the home front it was a major way people, especially women, were learning about the war. Movie-going was at an all time high, and they felt that women would model the ideal qualities the female characters displayed in these films, and therefore preserve the ideals of American culture.

There were many aspects of war not shown in Hollywood films, specifically infidelity and violence. Graphic violence was hardly seen and the brutality and atrocities that occurred never were, at least on the part of Americans. The OWI did not want American soldiers portrayed as violent, and they did not want the public to think that Americans could be just as brutal as the enemy. Men were also hardly ever shown being romantically or sexually unfaithful to their wives back home, because the OWI wanted the women at home watching movies to trust their husbands, and in turn be trustworthy. They wanted the American soldier depicted as inherently good and loyal, and eager to return to their committed relationships. They wanted him depicted as a fair fighter, who killed only in defense of democracy and American ideals, and never unnecessarily or because he enjoyed it.

These darker aspects of war were expressed through other venues, such as postwar fiction. Norman Mailer and Kurt

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