The Second World War begun on the 3rd September 1939 and affected women massively. Not only did they have to go out to work in places like factories but they also had to do their traditional roles of cooking, cleaning and looking after the children. The women had to adopt new roles because the men were no longer there to do their jobs. In this piece of coursework I shall focus on how reliable the quote by Neil DeMarco is (“There is plenty to suggest that women never got away from their traditional role. ).
In my opinion I think that this suggests that the women were in the home all the time. And I shall look at evidence supporting and disputing DeMarco’s interpretation throughout this coursework. In some ways it could be reliable because women still had their traditional roles because the jobs they had were giving out tea or being a librarian but this quote may not be reliable because women were more free and many worked in either the factories, being part of the land girls or WRNS.
I shall look at a variety of sources to support or dispute this interpretation , primary sources, like diary accounts and pictures or ,secondary sources, from historians like Carol Harris or Juliet Gardiner. I shall also look at films such as Land Girls, Hope and Glory and Charlotte Grey. I think that Neil DeMarco’s interpretation will be quite reliable because many women did have traditional roles but others didn’t. In this first section I shall explore the ways by which Neil DeMarco’s interpretation is correct and the reliability of it.
There is plenty to suggest that Neil DeMarco was correct and women didn’t get away from their traditional roles in the home. For example, all women had to struggle with the introduction of rationing and also feeding their children on limited food. They had to used ration booklets with daily coupons as there was only one other way to feed their children. This is proven in source E3 and the source is correct because the source shows women as gossips and struggling with rationing.
This source could be reliable because it was made at the time, boosts morale and supports DeMarco however it was made by a newspaper so it could have been censored and approved by the government. This could be useful because it shows women’s role in the home, the women working together and DeMarco has evidence to back him up however this has been made by a newspaper and it could be biased towards the governments perceptions. Women who were good housewives during the Second World War were awarded medals.
To back up DeMarco’s view is Poster (1) and shows a women with a halo on her head showing that women had a traditional role in the home and that the government encourage women to stay in the home rather than go out to the factories. This could be reliable because it was made at the time, encourages more women to stay at home and supports DeMarco’s view that women have enough to do at home however it was made by the government so they may have censored the poster to favour them.
This is useful because it shows that DeMarco is not at fault that women had a big role in the home however many women went into factories and were more useful to the government in that way. Also, children were able to see their mothers cooking and cleaning in the home so meaning that women were still doing their traditional role providing for the children but also they were a figure for children to look up to and they show how important they were for the family. To back up DeMarco’s view source E1 shows that women were still working in the kitchen and looking after the children.
This source could be reliable because it was written by a person who was in the war and supports DeMarco however the book he made was published after the time period so he could have forgotten things. This is useful because it shows that the government had provided a happy life for this boy by persuaded or helping his mother stay at home during the war and DeMarco is not incorrect in his interpretation however this is not useful because this is a biased view and therefore this is not a useful or reliable source.
The historian Carol Harris shows that the women were still at home however she devoted a whole book to women so her interpretation could be more reliable. This could be a useful source because she has the knowledge, experience and sources to use in this age however she is a secondary historian and she does not know what it was fully like during the war. The women had to deal with the problems of clothes rationing as they had to make and mend clothes which was encouraged by the “Make-do and Mend” regime meaning that women didn’t need to worry if there was a stain.
The source E2 supports Neil DeMarco’s view because it shows how women were always mending, cope with the demands of clothes rationing and trying to help their families proving that women had to stay in the house and make and mend clothes. This source could be reliable because it proves women had a traditional role in the home and supports DeMarco’s view but it was made by the government so it could have been censored.
This is could be useful because it shows that women had to cope with the difficulties of the war and that the government used drastic propaganda to force the public to save their coupons up. However, this isn’t useful because it does not show the full picture of what was happening during the war and the government is quite biased in this source. But even these women may have had to work in the factories and have a traditional role.
There are other reasons to suggest that women didn’t get away from their traditional roles in factories and Neil Demarco’s view was correct. For example, women caused a nuisance in the factories because they wanted separate toilets and expansion of facilities in the factory. This means that women were a lot harder to manage than men, this is proven in source E6 and this shows that Neil DeMarco’s view is correct as it proves that women were a nuisance.
This could be reliable because it shows how women held a traditional role in the home, it was made at the time and DeMarco’s view is correct but it was written by a man so it could be a biased account of women’s rights. This could be useful as it shows that women have the same perception in the workplace as at home to men and that the sexual morals haven’t changed and that the attitude towards women haven’t changed however it is a biased report because it was made by a man and he was probably asked to answer in a particular way for the book.
The women were also incompetent because they needed help from men when moving barges this shows women were too scared to do it because that is what women do and is proven in source E10 because they were scared of tunnels so relied on men who told funny stories about them meaning that Neil Demarco was correct. This could be reliable because it is an account by a person who was there at the time and proves DeMarco is correct however the book was published after the war, it could have been censored and the woman could have forgotten some elements in her story.
This could be reliable because it was someone who was there at the time and therefore that means that we can immediately assume that she has experience of the war and she worked in the girl’s land army so we can see that she has an important and supports DeMarco’s view of women however the book that this was in was made after the time so we would use another book with more use from the time period even if biased.
Another way was that the women were paid less than men because the employers got more women for less money which was more convenient at the time but the women didn’t need as much money to be satisfied with because they were doing the job for their family. This is shown well in source E7 and proves that Neil Demarco was correct because the women thought it was right not to be equal to men. This could be reliable because it shows women still felt they had the role of having clothes bought for them and that DeMarco was correct however it was published by the government so the source could have been censored.
This could be useful because it shows that women still had their traditional morals and thoughts of what women should think and do for men however this was made by the mass observation who were connected to the government so this could have been biased or censored so it is not very useful. The attitude towards women is that they were gossips, a nuisance, to look after the children and for the men’s private usage that is in general. Showing that they were less important than men and all they were was for the men to rely on.
However women did have a more traditional role in the armed forces. Neil DeMarco’s view is correct because there is a lot of evidence suggesting that women had a traditional role in the armed forces. There were many famous men’s entertainer’s such as Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields. They both had beautiful outfits and voices to boost the men’s morale so they had a reason to fight. One song was created called ‘From the White Cliffs of Dover’ and was produced to boost men’s morale. This was because it was usually the last place they would ever see.
Supporting Neil Demarco’s view is source E8 as it shows women in outfits that men loved and being the men’s providers. This source could be seen as reliable because it was made at the time, shows DeMarco is correct and shows that women had a traditional role however this is probably made by the government so therefore it could have been censored. This could be useful because it shows women in their traditional roles-to support men-and shows that women were able to have fun even though they were in the armed forces however this was made to show what women were and shows that the government were interfering.
Another factor supporting DeMarco’s view is women going out to work in the armed forces but ended up being the men’s “groundsheets” and were only there for a fun night. The view from Demarco is shown well in source E9 as it proves that women were for men’s purposes and they still had a traditional role as women. This source could be reliable because it shows DeMarco is correct, women had a traditional role and the men had their own views therefore making source E6 more reliable and useful however this source was shown after the time so it could have been censored or changed by the person interviewed.
This could be useful because it was by a woman who was involved in the brunt of the war and DeMarco is correct in his view however this was not made at the time so it could have been censored and therefore it is not that useful. Sometimes when the women came back from being with officers they were stripped down to their underwear and checked for deadly diseases such as gonorrhoea or Syphilis. The source E5 shows men had to be careful when finding a girlfriend but this doesn’t fully prove that DeMarco’s view is correct about women having a traditional role.
This source could be seen as reliable because it supports DeMarco’s view and shows women as the carriers of disease however it was made by the government so it could have been censored or changed. This could be useful because it was made at the time and shows that the attitudes to women hadn’t changed however this was made by the government which means it is biased and probably censored so therefore this source is fairly unreliable. But the role of nursing was very important in the armed forces because they helped injured soldiers which is like the caring people that women are.
If nurses weren’t there then the men wouldn’t have as much a reason to fight as it would bring six people out of the war effort instead of just one nurse to one injured man. One form of nursing was from the ‘Army Nursing Corps’, it was voluntary but was fully part of the army’s nursing sector. A poster(2) shows a women looking very glamorous and showing that women should volunteer so this shows that Neil DeMarco’s interpretation is correct in that they need to care for injured men.
This source is reliable because the woman looks glamorous and womanly even in the army and shows DeMarco is correct but this was made by the government so it could have been censored. This could be useful because it was made at the time and encourages women to join into a very traditional role and therefore the attitude had not changed towards women however it was made by the government so it is biased and probably censored.
However, there are other sources that suggest that Neil DeMarco was incorrect and in this next section I shall be looking at the ways that Neil DeMarco is incorrect in his interpretation. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Neil DeMarco was incorrect and that women got away from their traditional roles in the workforce. Women who went into the workforce were in the factories as they needed to go into them because there were no men anymore to do their jobs.
Source F3 shows that women needed to come into the war effort to bring out planes and encourages women to go into work. However, it is a poster to boost morale which could have been censored and also we don’t know whether the women actually were going into the factories. This could be useful because it was made at the time and shows DeMarco as incorrect as many women were free to do what they wanted however the response from this poster was not good and not many women joined and it was made by the government so it could be biased or censored.
The historian Juliet Gardiner shows her conclusion as the women all going into the factories and this interpretation could show that DeMarco and Harris are incorrect in their interpretations. However, the women were underpaid and many went on strike because of this. In one case in Glasgow they got better pay but the men complained about this because they still thought them as a traditional mums and women but in source F1 this is disputed because the Deputy Prime Minister thought it was a good thing.
I can trust this source because it proves that women were so good at their job that men who had previously done it would be shocked however the Deputy Prime Minister might only have seen one side of this problem and he may have over exaggerated. This could be useful because it was a statement by the Deputy Prime Minister and he has probably explored a lot of places and you can see how women managed to get away from their traditional roles however this could be biased and may not be true in all cases.
A way that DeMarco is disputed is that women had a non-traditional role of sharing jobs with other women by which they still stayed at home but they also went out to work in the factories meaning that they had to take up two different jobs this is proven in source F7 and shows women only worked in the afternoon and this is true because a woman had to share a job with another woman, in some ways we can trust this source because it disputes Neil DeMarco, it was made at the time and shows women still had to keep their original jobs but this was made by the government so it could have been censored.
This could be useful because you can see the balance between work and home but this shows that they also had a traditional role at home and this was made by the government. The war changed many things, even in Bovril adverts and DeMarco’s view is wrong because before the war women were shown as glamorous and perfect housewives but during the war women were shown to be going to work in the factories, wearing trousers and putting up their hair. So overall, their role did change.
Source F5 proves that DeMarco’s view is incorrect and this source is trustworthy because it was made during the war, it shows the change in the role of women, and also that women were able to achieve a lot during the war. However, this source could have been censored by the government and it proves that men still thought the women were in their traditional roles. This could be useful because it was made during the war and shows women got out of their traditional role in the home however they did this poster because of the times they were in and if you look at posters before the war then they are in traditional roles.
But what about other roles women had to take? Women had to take a large non-traditional role I the armed forces so there is evidence to suggest that DeMarco’s view is incorrect. There were many different types of things that women did for the armed forces such as the ATS(Auxiliary Territorial Service), the WRNS(Women’s Royal Navy Service), the WAAF(Women’s Auxiliary Air Force), ULTRA and SOE(Secret Agents). I shall firstly focus on the ATS and how DeMarco was incorrect. The women were very manly as they had to wear a khaki uniform.
Churchill banned a poster because it was made the ATS look glamorous. The ATS was not at all glamorous although some women became drivers, welders, carpenters and electricians which was exciting work. This proves that DeMarco was wrong because many women joined the ATS. There was approximately 217,000 women in the ATS by July 1942. A source that also proves that DeMarco is wrong is source F9, this shows women in the ATS riding motorbikes (this would never of happened before the war).
So, we can trust this source because it was taken at the time and shows that women had a non-traditional role however this source was probably taken by the government so it could have been censored or meddled with before the photograph was taken. This could be useful as before the war women were only allowed to be passengers on motorcycles let only ride them and shows women’s authority over the armed forces however this was probably made by the government.
Another way that the role of women was untraditional was the use of the SOE. They were secret agents who had the ability to speak another language fluently. When they conscripted into the SOE they usually went abroad and dropped off in Lysander Planes or parachuted from plane into occupied French territory. When they got to their stationed location they had extremely difficult work because any wrong move could lead to capture, torture and death. They were supported by Britain’s allies so they could try to stop the war.
One example of this is the film “Charlotte Gray” which was made by Channel 4 in 2004 and it is based on the stories from the SOE girls in WW2. This source is quite reliable because you can see what happened to women in the Second World War, it shows women didn’t have a traditional role and how fluent languages come to good use however it was made after the time, could be over exaggerated because it is a film and it is based on a fictional book by Sebastien Faulks. But there were two women that actually existed called Odette Churchill and Violette Szabo.
Source F10 shows Violette Szabo’s life story and this source could be reliable because it shows that the “Charlotte Gray” film is more reliable shows women had a non-traditional role in the war, she was very brave but also that DeMarco is incorrect. However this source may be over exaggerated because it wasn’t created by Szabo and she might not have done all those things. This could be useful because it shows how women were able to resist against the German’s and be able to get away with it however this isn’t useful as it is not a primary source by Szabo herself and so therefore I can’t count it as useful as if it was from Szabo.
The last area I shall focus on is the WRNS, they were a largely expanding organisation as the numbers jumped from 3,200 women in December 1939 to 72,000 women in June 1945. Many of the women went abroad to the Middle East or the Far East to help the war effort. However, some women had even more exciting jobs such as naval communications and whilst there some women learnt to overhaul torpedoes and depth charges, repair mine sweepers and the Morse Code. Source F12 shows that the women had highly important jobs.
This was made during the time and shows women had a non-traditional role however it was made by the government so it could have been censored or changed by the Prime Minister. This could be useful because it shows how women involved in the war were able to help men however only the people of high estate could get into the Wrens’ as many were in the ATS or Land Girls and so it is not that useful. Another part of the Army who really made a difference was the Land Girls.
The Women’s Land Army made a real difference to the war effort and DeMarco’s view is incorrect in this sense. They were traditionally called the WLA or Women’s Land Army and around 90,000 women conscripted to it over work in the factories which is shown well in source F14, it was made at the time, shows women had a non-traditional role and DeMarco’s view was incorrect but it wasn’t a glamorous job so proving that women weren’t happy with the job and also it doesn’t give he full picture of what life was like in the for women in the war.
This could be useful because it shows that women were not in a traditional role and proves that women liked to be away from traditional duties however we don’t know when it was made so therefore less useful to me. Without these women we would not have won the Second World War and allow women to become more confident. A source to show women were more confident is source F15 which shows women enjoying themselves doing general farming, this is reliable because it was made at the time, shows the important work women did and DeMarco was incorrect however this was probably made by the government so it could have been censored.
This could be useful because it was made at the time, shows women were enjoying being away from their traditional roles and proving that DeMarco is incorrect however this may have been staged so all the women looked happy. This is quite useful to me. The winter was hard and they had to break soil by hand. They lived in communities which were a long way from families and home. Another way that life was hard was that they lived on old farms or workers’ cottages which had no running water or electricity.
They worked long hours and were physically hard. They had to work on machines that women didn’t usually do which could hurt them. Because they lived in the countryside they ate well with a plentiful supply of wild animals. They weren’t paid much for their work as it was only 32 shillings or i??1. 60 a week. Despite this, a lot of women worked in the Land Army and got their own magazine for their valuable work. A source that proves that DeMarco is incorrect is the film “Land Girls” which looks at the work that the women did in the war.
This is quite trustworthy because it shows women had a non-traditional role and shows valuable work the women did however it doesn’t focus fully upon the work done and is a little over exaggerated because it was made after the war. This could be useful because it shows women away from their traditional roles and providing for the country however this is a film so it is not as useful to me. This is moderately useful. At home the sexual morals changed and 1 in 3 babies were born illegitimate. The divorce rate rose because of these new sexual morals.
The mothers went into work because they needed to help the war effort even though women who had children weren’t supposed to work. There was also a lot of dying in the war and more women had died at home than the soldiers in action. So, this shows that women were more respected, they were the defenders of the family and they had more rights to do what they wanted. To conclude, I think that in some ways Neil DeMarco is correct because some women had to go into the factories and were paid less than men, some women still agreed with the old sexual morals.
Many women still had important roles at home, cooking, cleaning and providing a good home for children. However, I think that in other ways DeMarco is incorrect because women had non-traditional roles being part of the SOE, the Land Girls and other parts of the armed forces. I think that the roles of the SOE are shown well in the film Charlotte Gray and shows how life affected young women and also it is backed up because it actually happened to Violette Szabo (F10).
So, I think that really Juliet Gardiner’s interpretation is more reliable to Neil DeMarco’s interpretation and the interpretations that were shown at the time because it shows the full picture of all of the women’s roles in the Second World War and is a good conclusion because she wrote a whole book about women in the Second World War and is an academic book with a lot of references involved and that as a historian in this era she has more sources and has a benefit.
The book DeMarco wrote is totally different because it has 64 pages including 1 page of references. I think that the most reliable source is F10 because it shows how women had a very much traditional role but I think source E5 is less reliable because it doesn’t fully link to the subject of women. I think that overall women had both traditional and non-traditional roles because women still had to do their jobs at home as well as do jobs for the government in factories and the armed forces.
DeMarco is both correct and incorrect in the interpretation he took. DeMarco’s book focuses on all aspects of the Second World War, so even though the statement “There is plenty to suggest that women never got away from their traditional role”. However, that doesn’t mean that was his full interpretation on the matter of women in the Second World War. Due to his book, this shows that DeMarco is brief in his review of the Second World War.
Therefore, I think his view is not fully justified because the book he wrote was designed as an overview for GCSE students so shows a brief insight to the subject of the Second World War. He may have other views on the subject. So, DeMarco shows a brief overview of Women in the Second World War but other historians like Juliet Gardiner or Carol Harris show a better insight to women in the Second World War because they have written solely about Women in the Second World War and can fully explore each aspect for Women unlike Neil DeMarco.