Hiring beautiful women for salons, inviting attractive young women to closely-watched dances, spreading seductive propaganda, arresting supposedly sexist girls to stop living with soldiers, or attacking soldiers on their wives. To pressurize me to write a letter.
These are some of the tricks employed by the United States government to sexually arouse its military during World War I and then to discourage them to be more aggressive on battlefields fought across Europe in 1917–1918.
end of neutrality
The US Congress did not approve American participation in the conflict until April 6, 1917. And then the preparation started. One of the most surprising, revealed by historian Eric Wyckoff Rogers of the University of Cambridge, shows how the US War Department wanted to use repressed sexual energy to motivate its soldiers.
At the heart of this experiment, as Rogers explains in an article published in the journal Journal of the History of SexualityCommission on Training Camp Activities (CTCA). If anything characterized this organization, it was its interest in controlling the sex lives of soldiers and women. Arguments Used: Preventing Sexual Infections and Protecting Social Ethics in the United States.
But the Cambridge expert says the agency was really interested in using human sexuality as a weapon to inspire soldiers to fight more brutally. About 53,000 American soldiers were killed and over 202,000 wounded during the Great War.
President Woodrow Wilson had worked hard to keep his country neutral for more than two years. But everything began to change when a German submarine sank the ocean liner RMS Lusitania in 1915, and when it was discovered that the German Imperial government wanted Mexico to attack the United States and retake the territories of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. was trying to
“War was not seen as relevant to young Americans as it was to Europeans,” Rogers explains. “But with Wilson’s sudden change of heart, the government had to work harder to convince citizens to support their entry into the conflict,” he says.
According to the historian, this change of opinion was nothing simple. And many American soldiers were recruited against their will. “In this context, the War Department actively exploited sexuality to psychologically manipulate American soldiers into fighting,” he says.
The first thing that was done was to impose restraint in the barracks. But at the same time, the militias were exposed to carefully controlled forms of sexual arousal. The War Department believed that sexually satisfied men were not easy to motivateSo he tried to generate an unsatisfied desire.
The CTCA was established in April 1917 to regulate the sexual behavior of soldiers while they were training for war. The Military Morale Division (MMS) was established a year later, when American Expeditionary Forces were stationed in Europe.
military morale section
Under the leadership of Edward Lyman Munson, a high-ranking medical officer, MMS took over control of the Boot Camp Activity Commission. Drawing on the record of moral agency and the writings of the scholars and reformers who steered it, Rogers showed that these powerful figures believed that sexual climax wasted the energy that fueled a man’s motivation. .
In addition, they also believed that stimulating a soldier’s sex drive and then turning it on could increase his arousal. Based on this “parasexual logic”, as Cambridge historians call it, a series of manipulative policies and activities were designed to regulate and encourage soldiers.
Attractive female workers were strategically recruited to serve in the canteens on both sides of the Atlantic. Selected women, usually in their thirties (and all white), were chosen because they were considered young enough to be attractive, but to resist so-called “persimmon fever” and refrain from having sex with soldiers. was considered old enough to do so.
As Rogers explains, the Ethical Agency motivational program wanted these waitresses to provide a stimulating, but not “extraordinary” female presence. Balls were also held in towns and cities near training camps in the United States and France.
The first demand of this initiative was to stop “licensed forms of dance” and other open sexual practices. But she was also concerned with finding the “right kind” of women, a category that excluded nearly all poor, non-white women. “Suddenly, dance became an important way for CTCA investigators to inspire soldiers with a greater moral concern,” the historian said in a statement.
Black soldiers were excluded from these and other activities because white military leaders thought they could not be sexually motivated because they were allegedly “sexually licentious by nature”. This is why most of these soldiers were assigned to non-combat units in World War I.
Motivating women and youth
Through the Young Women’s Christian Association, CTCA advises women and youth in cities and towns near training camps on how to ‘protect’ themselves from soldiers. In addition, the most sexually active girls were believed to have been removed by soldiers from frequently visited areas.
“By making it difficult to find sexual opportunities, the military was trying to preserve the fighting power of the men,” says Rogers. Thousands of women were arrested, tried under pressure, and detained during America’s brief involvement in the war.
“One of my major findings – the researchers point out – is that sexual dysfunction was primarily an excuse to monitor women and reduce the sexual opportunities of soldiers. Ethics was also an excuse for these programs. However, these terrible The real purpose of the measures was basically to perpetuate the sexual frustration that motivated the members of the military.”
Edward Munson, head of the Morrell section, acted on the conviction that “women have a powerful influence on military efficiency and morale.” She wrote of the importance of “the girl behind the man behind the gun” and argued that “when women are led into patriotic sacrifices, men are afraid to be lazy.”
“Sexual denial, status anxiety, and perceived pressure from women—it was a powerful combination,” says Rogers. “By striving for the acceptance of women, morale planners hoped that soldiers would perform their duties without complaint, fight hard, and be prepared to risk their lives.”
The morale program was promoted by an elite group of military officers, civilian psychologists and social reformers. Psychologist G. Stanley Hall, Harvard professor of philosophy and war camp inspector William Ernest Hawking, and Luther H. Gullick, founder of the Parks and Recreation Association of America.
Each of these men published books arguing that sexual control, along with the stimulation and diversion of sexual energy, was key to motivating soldiers. Unlike traditional moral reformers, he tried not to suppress the drive but to harness its energy to inspire male endeavors.
The sudden end of the war did not mark the end of these practices. After the war, the campaign to police women’s sexual behavior continued for more than two decades, with police arresting thousands of women for being infected with STDs.