You are here
Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies, and Patriotutes: The Regulation of Female Sexuality During World War II
In this carefully crafted and highly readable history, Marilyn E. Hegarty reminds us of the multiple links between sexuality and war. She captures the contradictions and shows us how women's sexuality was both mobilized and policed.
—Joanne Meyerowitz, author of How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies, and Patriotutes offers a substantive and complex narrative of the sweeping and multiple constraints on female sexuality during World War II. Hegarty's study is the best since Allan Brandt's epic work in its nuanced attention to the process by which female sexuality — deemed both necessary and suspect — was harnessed in service to the state, while female sexual desire and womens choices to engage in heterosexual activity remained unspeakable and became critical targets for containment during and after the war. This is a provocative and compelling book.
—Leisa D. Meyer, author of Creating G. I. Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Womens Army Corps During World War II
The strength of Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies, and Patriotutes is [Hegartys] delving deep into bureaucratic files, piecing together the Federal and state US officials steps toward, and thinking behind, mobilizing and controlling American womens sexuality.
—Cynthia Enloe, author of The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire
Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies, and Patriotutes offers a counter-narrative to the story of Rosie the Riveter, the icon of female patriotism during World War II. With her fist defiantly raised and her shirtsleeves rolled up, Rosie was an asexual warrior on the homefront. But thousands of women supported the war effort not by working in heavy war industries, but by providing morale-boosting services to soldiers, ranging from dances at officers clubs to more blatant forms of sexual services, such as prostitution.
While the de-sexualized Rosie was celebrated, women who used their sexuality — either intentionally or inadvertently — to serve their country encountered a contradictory morals campaign launched by government and social agencies, which shunned female sexuality while valorizing masculine sexuality. This double-standard was accurately summed up by a government official who dubbed these women patriotutes: part patriot, part prostitute.
Marilyn E. Hegarty explores the dual discourse on female sexual mobilization that emerged during the war, in which agencies of the state both required and feared womens support for, and participation in, wartime services. The equation of female desire with deviance simultaneously over-sexualized and desexualized many women, who nonetheless made choices that not only challenged gender ideology but defended their right to remain in public spaces.