The Slander Campaign

1943 WAC cartoon
1943 WAAC Cartoon, Caption: “What makes you think the WAAC is coming to this camp?”

Source: United States Army in World War II: The Women’s Army Corps by Mattie Treadwell (Published by the Department of the Army in 1954)

Several readers recently wrote wonderful comments about the role of women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The comments made me think about something that was commonly referred to as the “Slander Campaign.”

In 1943, as the women’s unit was converting from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) to the WAC, some people were concerned about women getting the same pay and benefits as men—and being an actual part of the army.

The media took a very active role in questioning why women were in the army—and sometimes argued (very inappropriately) that the women were not much more than “camp followers.” Many cartoons, such as the one I’m posting today, were considered to be part of the Slander Campaign.

24 thoughts on “The Slander Campaign”

  1. We will never get rid of the few who oppose things like the WAC and equal pay for equal work. The slander campaigns work to undermine the positive things accomplished. They did then and they do now.

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  2. Wow, I didn’t know they had a Slander Campaign. I am so proud of your Aunt. She was truly a pioneer in the Army.

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  3. Not surprised…this was the same media that kept women journalists where they “belonged” as well–writing society/fluff columns as opposed to more serious topics. (It would just hurt our little heads to have that kind of “manly” responsibility!)

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  4. No doubt the resistance to women becoming full partners was fierce. On the other hand, humor often is used — and is useful — in defusing situations that make people uncomfortable, or helping people talk about things that otherwise would be considered “bad form.”

    As I was transitioning from ministry to boat varnishing, I was known on the docks as “Father Linda” for a couple of years. And more than a few women pastors I knew in the early 70s were referred to as “pastorettes.” That sort of thing can be aggravating, but the best way to counteract it is to do the job, and do it well. Clearly, the WACs passed that test!

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    1. You have a very thoughtful and nice perspective about some situations that I’m sure were very difficult. Pastorette–what a hilarious term! I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but somehow I have to smile in a sad kind of way.

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  5. Great post.

    Indeed interesting to see the mindset the media of the day carried about the relevance of women in the Armed forces. And how that has shifted one hundred and eighty degrees in a mere five to six decades.

    I am left wondering, what is it really that shapes opinion at large? Is it the media that does so or is it the public thinking that percolates into the media as it articulates on issues?

    Shakti

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