Ferguson: WAACs overdefended (6-19-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 19, 1943)


Ferguson: WAACs overdefended

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Unfortunately, those who have risen to defend the honor of our women in the Armed Forces have also talked too much. The best answer to scurrilous attack is dignified silence. Blasts of denial by Mrs. Roosevelt, Congresswomen Rogers and Norton, Secretary Stimson and others against the hints of immorality among WAACs and WAVES, only fanned a weak gust into a tornado of public comment.

And perhaps we give too much importance to the charges when we call them Nazi propaganda. Plain gossip is a better term, and gossip will go on so long as human nature does business at the same old stand.

Our women in uniform represent the best element of American womanhood – and that’s no oratory, but plain English. Their service is a voluntary one. The dragnet of the draft, used on men, brings in the bad with the good. But our girls entered the service of their own free will. They accepted a new order of life because it was their wish to do so.

It would be exaggeration to say all went in for purely altruistic reasons. Women, too, are moved by a desire for adventure, change, travel, better opportunities.

But because these women are volunteers, they are prepared to meet new challenges. These must include the inevitable criticism which has always attended feminine progress. Like all women who defied convention in the past, they will get ridicule as well as praise. The way they take it will mark their status as soldiers.

Moreover, being smart, they realize a uniform does not bestow virtue on a woman any more than it ennobles a man, if the stuff of nobility is not in him.

From all reports they’re doing a swell job and their home folks are proud of them. We expect them to come back to us better soldiers and finer women – but we’re not looking for goddesses. In fact, we don’t want any around.