Candidly Speaking – Feminine? You bet! (2-18-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 18, 1944)

Feminine? You bet!

WACs turn to knitting in spare time
By Maxine Garrison

Know what the WACs are doing in their spare time at their headquarters?

Fancywork, no less!


The girls have taken to knitting, crocheting, embroidering, tatting and weaving with all the enthusiasm once given those crafts by Victorian ladies in bustles.

It’s certainly an answer, if one is needed, to those who feared so loudly that Army service would completely defeminize women.

Of course, ever since women put aside the smelling salts and “vapors,” there have nee scaredy-cats to moan that each new venture was going to defeminize the whole sex. Women have so far confounded the critics by remaining women, and there seems to be little danger that they’ll change radically.

But the boys really got their hooks in when the idea of putting women in the Army came up.

They jeered:

Imagine a top sergeant in a skirt! Why, women could never in this world stand up under Army discipline, and if they did, they’d lose every shred of feminine charm.

Outmarch men

So, the girls, smiling sweetly, joined the then-WAAC, donned khaki from girdle to greatcoat, and soon learned to “About fact!” with ease and dexterity (As a matter of fact, I’ve seen them outmarch companies of men in a parade beyond all comparison).

They’ve learned to play nursemaid to bombers, to drive Army trucks, to do all the jobs through which they can release men for active service.

And they’re still as feminine as ever – if not more so. When you live in a barracks, you learn to cherish that pretty bedroom with the ruffled organdy curtains that you once took for granted. When you march briskly in uniform, you take care to speak softly and have your makeup on right, in order not to be swallowed up by the brusque anonymity of G.I.’s.

In the quieter hours, their hands seek the age-old feminine occupations of fine and delicate needlework. For the hand that wields the monkey-wrench can still be the hand that works out an intricate pattern in thread, a decoration for some future home.


All of which points up the great fallacy of all the arguments that new fields and new occupations will turn women away from themselves, and make of them masculine, unlovable creatures. The feminine nature runs considerably deeper than any preoccupation.

They’re big help

Women haven’t always devoted their whole lives to bestowing the feminine touch on their surroundings. They haven’t been able to. From the very beginning, they’ve had to help get the surroundings under control first.

Women have always done their share of what is called “men’s work.” They can do what has to be done, whether it’s driving a covered wagon across an untracked prairie, chopping firewood, harvesting wheat or repairing the motor of a jeep. And they’re not any less women for doing so.