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‘Playing At Being Soldiers’?: British Women And Military Uniform In The First World War

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Chapter Summary

The woman in military uniform threatens to destabilise both the femininity of the women who wear it and the naturalised linkage between soldiering and masculinity. As Marjorie Garber has argued, the ?sight of women wearing medals or ?orders? attached to their chests? suggests that ?such orders can be unpinned, detached, from men.? Attempts to ?manage? this problem have involved a close attention to the minutiae of women?s appearance when they don military uniform in an attempt to mediate the challenge that their presence in uniform poses to the gendered status quo. This chapter builds on the work undertaken by Susan Grayzel to examine both this challenge, and the attempts to mediate it, in the increasingly militarised society that was Britain during the First World War. It traces the relationship of femininity to fashion and to uniform during the war, a relationship which was neither straightforward nor singular.

Keywords: British women; femininity; First World War; Marjorie Garber; military uniform; soldiering; Susan Grayzel



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