restricted access Patriot or Prostitute?: Sexual Discourses, Print Media, and American Women during World War II

This article examines the simultaneous mobilization and control of female sexuality in the United States during the World War II era. It focuses, in part, on the role that print media played in encouraging women to support the war effort both in industrial and entertainment milieus. In a sense, female bodies were drafted for the duration. The government campaign to mobilize women was, however, complicated by a concurrent campaign to prevent and control venereal diseases in the military. As wartime women necessarily crossed established gender boundaries by responding to their prescribed civic obligations, in both factory and dance hall, they became suspicious individuals. Print media reflected and reinforced sociopolitical concerns regarding "excessively" sexual women who came to symbolize contamination. The line between the patriotic "good girl" and the prostitute or "promiscuous bad girl" collapsed and produced the "patriotute."