Women and World War in Comparative Perspective

TitleWomen and World War in Comparative Perspective
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsWinchell, Meghan K.
EditorHartigan-O'Connor, Ellen, and Lisa G. Materson
Book TitleThe Oxford Handbook of American Women's and Gender History
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York

This chapter compares women’s experiences in World War I and World War II, emphasizing the ways that wartime mobilization shaped the citizenship claims, cultural representations, labor experiences, military contributions, and sexual expression of diverse groups of women. It focuses on how women applied their gendered, racialized, and classed bodies to wartime experiences that often put them at odds with propaganda images of femininity. The wartime context inspired the actions of women like gold star mothers who represented sacrifice, activists who fought for women suffrage, and African Americans who protested segregation. Some women embodied Rosie the Riveter by working in war industries, many cultivated victory gardens, and others served in the Women’s Army Corps. Young women found themselves caught in government projects to curtail venereal disease while seeking sexual autonomy. 

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