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Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:09 AM

If Betty Draper Joined The Army

As the U.S. military prepares over the next few years to open all jobs to women, including combat roles, the Army recently debuted a newly designed, female-friendly uniform. Originally conceived as a women’s uniform, it’s now being referred to as a unisex option. The new style is designed to better fit a woman’s body, featuring narrower shoulders, a fitted waist, adjusted sleeve length and a rank insignia that sits above—rather than right on—the breast.
What’s most striking about the new uniform is how similar it looks to the current masculine-geared version. The new design incorporates small tweaks for fit rather than any great re-imagining of style. It seems like a conscious effort to ensure that female soldiers won’t stand out from their male counterparts.

But not that long ago, the U.S. Army was advising a far different look, style and attitude for women serving in the military, as is evident in these official training films from the late 1960s and early ’70s, which recently were made available on the National Archives’ YouTube channel.
“Military Etiquette and Grooming” is a series of three films produced by the Department of Defense, aimed at teaching members of the Women’s Army Corps the proper way to dress, style their hair and makeup, and behave in a proper military (read: feminine) manner.
The shorts, along with a fourth bonus video, are an amazing time capsule, and, from our 21st-century perspective, unintentionally hilarious.

Remember, of course, the context: These films were made in the era of the Vietnam War, the ’60s counterculture, the early stirrings of the Watergate scandal and the rise of the modern women’s movement. The world was turning upside down, and institutions were scrambling to resist the changes or to adjust, often in embarrassingly awkward ways.

Like the TV series Mad Men, which now is edging fitfully into that same late ’60s/early ’70s era, these Army training films serve as a reminder of how far women have come. But they also reveal a deep current of sexism in the military that continues in today’s armed forces.


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Reply If Betty Draper Joined The Army (Original post)
ismnotwasm Aug 2013 OP
LanternWaste Aug 2013 #1

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Tue Aug 27, 2013, 05:19 PM

1. Coincidentally, I've only recently begun to watch Mad Men...

Coincidentally, I've only recently begun to watch Mad Men (I'm at the beginning of Season II at this point). Tough show to watch... especially after having one's eyes opened to the more subtle variations of sexism existing in the here and now which have replaced the more obvious and overt actions that took place them.

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