Editorial: Woman's war work (10-23-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 23, 1941)


Woman’s war work

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Women undoubtedly have a tremendous part to play in the national defense program, but I am more convinced every day that it should be confined to those things we do well.

Watching some of the recent newsreels makes one wonder whether we aren’t advocating tomfoolery instead of patriotism. Gas mask, fire, gun and parachute jumping drills make swell films, and may be necessary for nurses and even for civilians when the invaders are landing, but at the moment there is so much important though less spectacular work still undone that we could well let the daredevil stuff wait for a while.

Perhaps the greatest danger inherent in this particular war is the temptation it gives women to become male copycats. To most girls, the life of the average boy seems more adventurous and therefore more alluring than their own. And hordes of the mothers of those girls, frustrated in youth because they couldn’t break away from intolerably dull domestic chores now yearn to dash out and have what they always wanted – excitement.

It’s a bitter fact for us to face, but women’s customary work, when judged by certain standards, is dull. We’ve always been occupied with routine and detail jobs. Therefore the desire for something else is latent in modern feminine nature, and we’ve had just enough experience in wider fields to whet our appetite for more. The present war emergency gives us a chance to satisfy that desire.

So, it seems to me, there’s a very good chance for us to mess up the whole program if we don’t use our heads as well as our hands, and if we insist upon things outside the jurisdiction of normal existence.

In this emergency, every person should be doing the job for which he is best fitted by nature. That’s why I think a lot of women and girls ought to get out from under foot and stick to their knitting, nursing, cooking, teaching and mothering.