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Best Boys And Aching Hearts: The Rhetoric Of Romance As Social Control In Wartime Magazines For Young Women

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Chapter Summary

Two very similar weekly one-penny magazines, The Girl?s Friend and Our Girls, targeting working- and lower middle-class girls in the fifteen-to-twenty age group with their combination of advice columns, fashion pages and melodramatic fiction, offered vicarious excitement and participation in the war to a group of women whose age and sex had placed them on the peripheries of the unfolding drama. The narrative offered to women plays on the sexually charged wartime atmosphere, but contains sexuality safely within romance and marriage. Even while the magazines offer a forum for debate and reflect the conflicting roles presented to young women, ultimately the war narrative they offer is narrowly prescriptive: the ?best boy? reveals his manhood by putting on khaki and the woman?s place in the war is defined through aching heart and hearthside.

Keywords: aching heart; best boy; Our Girls; romance; The Girl?s Friend; wartime magazines; young women



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