Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Real Life Victory Girls

I found this tie-tack last week at Out of the Ashes etsy shop.  Daniel, the owner, makes what he calls "altered art" jewelry using bullet shells, typewriter keys, circuit board bits, coins, gears and vintage finds.  You definitely need to check it out!

World War I poster

But it got me thinking about the history behind the term "victory girl."  When was it first used?  After a bit of research, it seems the original movement started during World War I as a legitimate, government-led work campaign.

The United War Work Campaign brought together seven organizations - the YMCA, the YWCA, the American Library Association, the War Camp Community Service, the Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Salvation Army - into one large funding drive charged with raising over $170 million for the war effort.  There was even a chapter of Victory Boys! 

However, during the Second World War, the term "victory girl" took on a more definite sexual connotation.  It was applied to any young girl who felt it was her duty to boost the morale of service men.  This could be as innocent as dancing at USO clubs or as blatant as having sexual relations bordering on prostitution.  Knowing that these men may never return home, the girls used their sexuality to comfort and reward them before they shipped out or when they were on leave between assignments.  Of course the men played into this sense of patriotism, pressuring the girls and sweet-talking their way into a few sweaters.  "Khaki-wackies," "patriotutes" and "good-time charlottes" were other terms coined in that era.  And though this behavior was also present during World War I, it received much more scrutiny in the 1940s.  Some historians also argue that the girls were not simply swept off their feet in their misplaced patriotism, but were experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what was deemed socially acceptable. 

So just to set the record straight, Wild Kat, Peachie and I are boosting morale on the Home Front by baking pies, planting gardens and sharing tips on how to get the perfect roller set.  Our goal is to embody a more wholesome 1940s victory girl.  The girl who can make do with less.  The girl who keeps the home fire burning bright for her husband and family.  The girl who steps up and contributes to her community.  Is this making you slightly nauseous with all it's goody-two-shoe-iness?  More simply put, if you take the sexual component out of the slang, that's us.  Besides, we're all happily married, and only get wacky with one pair of khakis.  But we're too nice to talk about it.  *wink*


  1. Aahhhh, it's good to be a Victory girl!

  2. OH I LOVED THIS POST!! Thank you! I love the wholesome 1940s aspect! Very well done!

  3. Cute post! You girls are doing a good job showing the wholesome side of victory girls.

  4. I'm with you 110% when it comes to embracing the wholesome elements of being a Victory Girl, and really like that you gals raised the point about how this term was used differently between the two wars. I think that many people today hear that term and forget that it once humble, modest roots.

    ♥ Jessica