Friday, September 3, 2010

Women at Work

Jean Proctor (nee Young) 1938/39      Photo Credit: IWM / Jean Young

Since so much of my reading lately has been around women and WWII, I got to thinking tonight about women's role in the war effort, perhaps the greatest DIY project ever since each and every citizen was called upon to participate in some way. Above is a picture of a woman named Jean Proctor who was a member of the Women's Land Army in England back during WWII. These women helped to keep the British farms going in the absence of male farmers. Her story was featured here as part of the media coverage for an exhibition entitled "Outbreak 1939" at the Imperial War Museum, London. The exhibit, "highlights stories, voices and memories of the ordinary people who experienced the build up to and preparation for war."

Woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber Tennessee, February 1943. Reproduction from color slide. 
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

This is a beautiful image I also saw for the first time tonight of an American woman participating in the great industrial push that came along with the war. It is part of a set of the only colour photographs that were taken at this time in America and featured in a 2006 exhibit, Bound for Glory: America in Color. (hat tip to Plog, Photo Blogs from the Denver Post)

Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, Chicago and Northwest Railway Company. Clinton, Iowa, April 1943. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Jack Delano. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Above is an image of female railroad workers also from the same exhibit.

So all of this leads me to think about a particular expression I have been hearing a rather lot of lately...

It all started when I was pregnant and bored and started watching a lot of tv. There was a commercial for a local tractor dealer whose jingle began:

"Gotta git 'er done or just doin 'er for fun..."

I have also been hearing gentlemen encourage one another with:

"Git 'r done!" and "Giv' r good!" 

Since this blog deals a fair bit with getting things done, I have been wondering about how this phrase came about. Why is the job suddenly a passive "she"? Is it possible to "do him for fun" too? Maybe it is all as innocent as referring to a ship as "she"? I think I might find these expressions somewhat offensive, but I'm not sure if that is being overly sensitive.

I don't have much of an answer, but I hope these images will be a response - namely that these ladies sure as hell can give 'r right back when it comes to hard work!

On a more humorous note, this is more likely what the less-enlightened imagine when they picture woman + tractor:


  1. Just wanted to give a possible addition to current reading list around WWII- War Brides: The Stories of the Women Who Left Everything Behind to Follow the Men They Loved by Melynda Jarrat was an excellent compelation of stories written by war brides who had come to Canada. Perhaps because my Grandma was a War Bride I took a special interest in this topic but I thought the book did a good job of sharing the plight of these women. Glad you are back!

  2. Thank you, I will put it on the list and look for it at the library!


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