Women, Sexuality and War by Philomena Goodman (auth.)

By Philomena Goodman (auth.)

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Extra info for Women, Sexuality and War

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The demands of that war had illuminated the need for `dilution of skilled men by semi-skilled' and the need for women's labour. Indeed, during the earlier conflict women were encouraged to take over male jobs by the recruitment slogan `Do Your Bit. Replace a Man for the Front' (Thom 1989, p. 144). From the archive material held at Metro-Vicks, Harry Esson noted how women had indeed contributed to that war: 32 Women, Sexuality and War Men went off to the Services in 1914 and were frequently replaced by women.

A survey of private business companies which had operated a marriage bar before the war, including major employers such as The Bank of England, ICI, Unilever, Rowntree & Co, Cadbury Brothers Ltd. and the four main railway companies, reveals that they all planned to reinstate the bar at the end of the war (Smith 1984, p. 944). The marriage bar represents a clear model of the gendered nature of restrictions on working practice. It reinforces the traditional model of spatial relations with a male breadwinner and female dependant.

Their relationship with a man categorised them as mobile or immobile labour. Throughout the war years it fell on the men left behind in state ministries and the organised labour movement to protect long-term British male interests and spatial practices from irretrievable female colonisation. Many men adopted protectionist strategies to maintain 20 Women, Sexuality and War gender relations during the Second World War. Whilst these tactics served to reinforce difference and regulate women, they were also resisted by women both individually and collectively.

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