Women and The War Effort in Britain 1914-1918 Essay Sample

Women and The War Effort in Britain 1914-1918 Pages
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World war one beginning in 1914 and ending in 1918 brought around many changes in Britain. One change was that many women were invited into the work place because men were fighting in war. Most of the work changes though came after conscription where men were forced to join the army. Many people and historians argue that these work changes for women would have happened anyway but just later and that war acted as a catalyst and sped up this process. I will be discussing various points on sources A to H, and answering three main questions.

Source A is propaganda and is unreliable but gives us an insight into what the government were really thinking. The source is unreliable because it has a very obvious aim, to get women into the work place. The poster, made in 1917 after subscription, shows us women being ‘equal to men. After subscription where it was mandatory for men to be in the army women were needed in the factories and propaganda was released to entice women into the work place. After careful study of the poster I found faults, which show that men still thought of themselves as higher than women. Small things such as the woman having to hold the flag with two hands and the mans flag being in front of hers shows that although women were ‘equal’ men were still the dominant race. I believe these faults to be made subconsciously by the artist, being propaganda to get women into the work place I don’t think the artist would have made small points like that deliberately. In 1917 the trade union came together and made the restoration of pre war practices act, allowing men to have their old jobs back after the war. This shows that women were just needed in the work place for the war, but straight after it they should go back into the home.

I don’t believe source C to be of more importance to source E or vice versa. Source C is heavily biased because it was written with an obvious aim. Written in 1994, a time of total equality between men and women source C has a feminist attitude and is selectively written, the author has only put in what she thinks will make a woman sound more important to the war effort. Source E was written in 1915, a year after the war started, being written at the time would make this source biased. An upper class person because of the vocabulary used wrote the source. In 1915 there was censorship so the source could have been written to what the government wanted. The reliability is questionable because of the patronising tone in the article. I believe both articles are questionable in the reliability as evidence about how enthusiastic women were to support the war effort; only the women themselves could tell us that.

“War proved to be a great leap forward for British women”. – War was a leap forward for British women. Some sources at the time and sources written after show us this. Even if these sources are unreliable or have faults. Such posters as in source a show us women were being thought of differently (being considered for jobs) even if it was for the war effort, men were forced to think differently. War was a catalyst for women forcing attitudes to change in a short space of time. Sources A to H show us women’s lives and roles changed and did lead on to additional changes to women’s lives in society in the future. This tells us war was a leap forward for women in the long run. Source A tells me women were being made to be seen as equals, subconsciously men were still dominant t a change was being made towards women. Men though saw the war and women working as economic need and not change of attitude. Source B was written in 1965, a time when a sexual revolution was happening in Britain and women were claiming equality.

Source B makes out that the authors or men at the time believe women to be lower than them because they gave women the vote, but the men were still in charge and decided as a reward to give the women the vote. Source C was written in 1994 a time of equality for men and women, and from secondary information. The author has been selective in the sources she has chosen to put in her book. Everything said by her should be taken with a pinch of salt because the source empowers women. Source D seems a reasonable source; it accounts the good and bad side of woman workers. The source was written in 1991, as in 1994 a time of equality, must have been written by secondary information and the privilege of hindsight was included in this article. Source E written about women joining the war effort was published in 1915 with censorship and a biased point of view.

Source F tells us about how it was inevitable for a woman’s perception to change after the war; it explains how women changed through the war and how things would begin to change for them after the war. This source though has the benefit of hindsight (being written in 1987) the two authors saw the change after the war and decided to show that it all happened because of the war. Source G praises women for their contribution to the war but also states that women are not needed to be in the work place or to be independent unless it is a time of crisis. The extract was taken from a government-controlled magazine. The article also states ‘woman is a comrade and helper to man’ meaning the woman is to follow the man and help with thinks, not actually do anything herself. Source H was an interesting silent movie with lots of short propaganda films to show women are needed in work; hoe women enjoy it and don’t lose their femininity. The main aim of the video was there three factors. Women’s work was voluntary, not compulsory like the men’s army, so women had to be enticed in to the work place.

War did prove to be a leap for British women and some say it was going to happen anyway and the war just sped it up. Sources A to H provide information to show this to be true but many of these sources are biased or have some unreliability to them. Using hindsight I see world war one as a great leap forward for women.

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