This book examines the ways in which women were able to deploy ambiguous concepts such as the 'career woman' and the 'bachelor girl' to simultaneously indicate and mask a lesbian identity. Contemporary anxieties about female same-sex desire which attached to these figures offered the opportunity to deploy them as an indication of potential sexual deviance. But their very ambiguity simultaneously afforded a protection from censure which more explicit terms such as 'lesbian' did not. These cultural connections between 'deviant' and 'normative' models of sexual identity have become the focus of considerable attention by queer theorists and historians in recent years. Queer historians have sought to analyse the institutional practices and discourses which produce sexual knowledge, and the ways in which these organise social life. They have concentrated their research on the binary opposition of homosexuality and heterosexuality as the dominant epistemological framework of knowledge about sexuality. The book seeks to explore the connections between space and cultural practices in lesbian history and is therefore concerned with the material world of post-war Britain. Identities such as 'tomboy' were invested with specific meanings in particular spatial contexts. As a child in rural Essex in the early 1950s, Nina Jenkins could use the term 'tomboy' to explain and excuse her desire to climb trees and be part of a boys' street gang.
A lesbian history of post-war Britain 1945–71
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in the First World War
Total war tends to create a situation that falls back on established social and cultural discourses and institutional arrangements at the same time that it provides the opportunity for a shifting and renegotiation of these arrangements. This book explores how the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) drew upon, and/or subverted cultural mythologies to make sense of their wartime service. It focuses on this renegotiation of gender and examines seven key themes implicit in this process. The first theme concerns the ways women's military organizations utilized traditional notions of genteel femininity and its accompanying nurturance, cheerfulness and devotion in their promise of service, yet went beyond the parameters of such cultural mythologies. The second focuses on the gendering of military heroism. The third theme addresses the context of female military service in terms of the preparation women received, the opportunities they were given and the risks they took, and focuses on their coping behaviours. Theme four focuses specifically on women's transgression into the masculine terrain of driving and mechanics and shares the ways they developed skills and competencies previously off-limits for women. Such transgressions almost invariably led to women having to negotiate masculine authority and develop skills in autonomy, independence and assertiveness - the focus of theme five. The last two themes discussed in the book address the integration and consolidation of women's organizations as the war progressed and their service became indispensable.
The founding of the FANY 1907–14
, subverting masculine space. What kinds of cultural changes were happening to make space for such developments, and how were these women able to use their class privilege and modify existing notions of gender and militarism in order to practise such behaviours? This chapter addresses these questions by exploring the ﬁrst theme of the book, the ways the FANY utilized and subverted traditional notions of genteel femininity. It explores the origins of the FANY and historicizes their founding in the social and cultural forces of the day. 24 War girls Edwardian womanhood and
Postscript Grace McDougall’s memoir ‘Five Years with the Allies’ ends with the following reﬂection: There is a statue in Calais, well known to FANYs, called ‘The Brave Boys of Calais’, and if ever a millionaire has money to chuck about he could do worse than put up a statue in Calais, with a FANY in khaki on top and a motor ambulance in bas-relief, and engrave it with these names, as the khaki girls of Calais!1 At this transitional historical moment when the ‘khaki girls’ were demobilized, the future for the Corps was somewhat uncertain. They did not receive
2 The ‘all-out career woman’ and narratives of lesbianism at work In 1964, The Times published an article entitled ‘Bachelor Girl’, describing the plight of the young unmarried woman in her late twenties with nothing to occupy herself but her career. ‘Feminists and writers in the more sophisticated magazines’, the correspondent explained, ‘may argue persuasively about the superior position of the bachelor girl … How much more exciting life can be for the bachelor girl, they say, than for married couples like themselves, weighed down with families. Think of the
that there were people like us and there were other people.10 This experience of lesbianism in post-war Britain as a silence, an absence from discourse was a common one, shared by many women. The ambiguities in concepts such as ‘tomboy’ and ‘bachelor girl’, which enabled them to be deployed as indicators of sexual dissidence, also afforded a protection from the explicit naming of a deviant sexual identity. For the majority of women who did not participate in the lesbian social communities of the 1960s or the political campaigns of the 1970s, this culture of
Female homosociality in L. T. Meade’s schoolgirl novels
4 Girls with ‘go’: female homosociality in L. T. Meade’s schoolgirl novels Whitney Standlee T he juvenile fiction written by the Irish novelist L. T. Meade (Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Toulmin Smith, 1844–1914) was extensive and diverse in both substance and reach. Sales records for her novels, a number of which continued to be reissued decades after their initial publication and which sold in the tens of thousands, confirm that her work appealed across temporal, geographical, religious, and even gendered boundaries.1 Evidence of her widespread popularity
Girls from the Kinder transport in Southport, 1938–1940
12 The Harris House girls: girls from the Kindertransport in Southport, 1938–1940 On 6 December 1938, as it sought to define its remit, the MJRC was given to understand by members of the Livingstone family of Southport that a local committee there had obtained premises at 27 Argyle Road, in a fashionable residential district near the town centre, at a rental of £900 for four years, which it proposed to convert into a hostel for twelve children. Approval had been obtained from Woburn House and the committee now sought the imprimatur of the MJRC, of which it
Introduction There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train, And the girl who speeds the lift from ﬂoor to ﬂoor, There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain, And the girl who calls for orders at your door. Strong, sensible, and ﬁt, They’re out to show their grit, And tackle jobs with energy and knack. No longer caged and penned up, They’re going to keep their end up Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back. There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van, There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat, There’s the girl who cries ‘All
FANY with the Belgians at Lamarck Hospital 1914–15
with the labours of this war. It shares the story of these ﬁrst FANY working for the Belgians at Lamarck Hospital (L’Hôpital Lamarck) from October 1914 through the end of 1915 and explores the ways they threw themselves into this 89 90 War girls service, accepting the trials and tribulations that came along with such work. The FANY were in a position to challenge the constraints of normative gender and turn the world what Nina MacDonald describes, in her poem ‘Sing a Song of War-time’, as ‘topsy-turvy’, as girls ‘doing things/ They’ve never done before’.8 Such