Women against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-1947

By Rachel Waltner Goossen | Go to book overview

6
In the Aftermath of War

In 1944 three women students at Bethel College in Kansas wrote new lyrics to the tune of the well-known World War II song Bell Bottom Trousers." They recorded their version and sent a tape to a friend in Civilian Public Service who was engaged to one of the women. The "blue denim" of the refrain was a reference to the poverty of conscientious objectors:

Once there was a girl who worked her way through school, She loved a Conchie, and he loved her too. When he went to CPS at only twenty-three She wished that she were sitting on his knee.

Blue denim trousers, coat of denim, too She loved a Conchie, and he loved her too.

When the war is over, he'll be coming back And then it's only money that they'll lack. Soon they will settle down and raise a family They'll live together, ever happily. 1

This satire, conveyed as a private message between friends and lovers, underscores the conventionality of the dreams harbored by many of the young adults associated with Civilian Public Service. 2 Popular literature appearing in the mid-1940s supported the notion that American women looked forward to a blissful future at home, devoting themselves to child rearing rather than remaining in the labor force. But the Kansas students who penned these verses were not just reflecting the social conservatism that seemed to be the order of the day. They were also mocking it, for more than a thousand Americans who had been part

-112-

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Women against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-1947
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Conscripting of Civilians 11
  • 2 - Am I Worth Dying For? 29
  • 3 - No Girl Should Marry into This Kind of Life 44
  • 4 - Looking for a Few Good Women 69
  • 5 - Collegiate Women Pacifists 94
  • 6 - in the Aftermath of War 112
  • Conclusion 129
  • Appendix - Questionnaire on Women and Civilian Public Service 133
  • Notes 137
  • Bibliography 159
  • Index 175
  • Gender and American Culture 181
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