During World War II we were free to be men; we were even encouraged to be. Every one of us took on jobs as riveters, assemblers and machinists. We built bombs by day and tended to our victory gardens by night.

We had all proven ourselves capable. But after the war we womenfolk seemingly became an enigma. We were reduced to “just a woman” in a man’s job. Deemed unnecessary in the fight of competitiveness that began about the time we left the factories. Our place was to be back in the kitchen—we were told to bake cookies. They said we’d no longer useful in working machinery.

Assembling a hearty breakfast for my husband at cockcrow, and packing his lunch is now my post war time effort. Bearing a child was an expectation society now laid upon me…it is something I endlessly have a dispassion for.

Milford made a predictable 5:30 am appearance at the table. Seated, he grabbed the gazette opening it to the first page. Taking a nippy break before looking at the unfavorable sports results, he said “You look pretty today, Emma.”

Interrupting my focused laying of the food in his lunch pail I turn, fronting a smile and nodding in thanks. I espied his overalls. They were buttoned right through the fly with a straight leg. They possessed big patch pockets on the chest for keeping things handy. Lust filled thoughts began to flood my head space…

I once donned coveralls made of blue denim myself. They had breast pockets to keep small tools in as well. My cuffs were forever tied responsibly tight keeping them from being caught in machinery.

I disagree with his well-meant compliment. My dress is far from “pretty.” Instead, it inhibits my ability to be a woman. I miss my pants. They belong to me as well, and I need to make every effort to wear them once again.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
5 months ago

Melissa, I absolutely love this story. I too have read all about the incredible women of World War II, and how they built aircrafts and weaponry and munitions while they still tended to their families, grew the Victory gardens and did all the amazing things that women always do. The fifties were really a horrible time for women, after all their hard work and rising to unbelievable challenges. The magazine ads from that time make me cringe – pearls and high heels and aprons and that smile pasted on the face. Your story told it all. You are such a strong advocate for true femininity – the right for women to wear what is healthy and comfortable, to do fulfilling work, to choose motherhood or not. I’m a great fan of your women’s rights stories. Rosie the Riveter lives on!!

Voice-Team
Admin
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
5 months ago

Hello Melissa – we corrected the spelling you mentioned. Thanks for pointing that out!

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Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite(@paul-lewthwaite)
5 months ago

Melissa, I agree wholeheartedly that the women who lived/worked through the war in whatever country, played a huge, often downplayed role and society (aka us blokes) at the time was mad not to capitalise on that huge pool of talent post war and recognise women’s worth.
Your story brings that message home on a very personal level. I was hoping Emma was going to give her hubby a piece of her mind! Liked your misdirection as well with the play on the word ‘lust’ – it worked (typical bloke reaction – duh!) lol.

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
5 months ago

Hi Melissa. Let me join the chorus of people who love this story! Those women were absolutely amazing and terribly underrated, treated like furniture or like possessions. I just watched a Father Brown detective episode (which takes place in the 50’s) where a woman gave birth just before her fiance returned from the war to marry her. Since she was unmarried when the baby was born, her baby was taken away and she was put in a lunatic asylum (as they called those institutions then). Thanks for keeping this issue alive – we should never forget the Rosies, of then and now! There is a wonderful New Yorker magazine cover from 1998 of a construction worker many stories above the ground, in the steel girders, nursing her baby through an unbuttoned denim work shirt. We’ve come a long way.

By the way, the picture for your story is fabulous. Am I imagining things, or is that you in a Rosie disguise? I like the touch of pink – so subtle, yet meaningful. You are endlessly creative.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago

Hello, Melissa. They have already said all the great words for your story. And I will join those people who were extremely amazed and liked your story. Those women in world war II were amazing. And hats off for your advocate for strong feminity- it matters for all women. And because of that, I am one of your avid fans.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago

You’re welcome, Melissa.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
5 months ago

Hi Melissa, I really can’t add more than has already been said about this super story. I really do applaud women from that time period, and a little of them has been in us ‘til now, and will be for all time. I love that she lusted over the overalls! That was a genius little twist. Great stuff!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
5 months ago

I totally agree with what the other commentators say about your very well written story and what happened during the 40s and 50s, and also what you said yourself about the 60s. Let me just add that in spite of the terrible and very limited role that most women endured during the 50s, there was no bad intention behind it. It was more a mixture of necessity and a naive dream about what perfection looked like. There was no kindergarten and a household needed constant attendance at the time. I remember, as a child, hearing young men saying that they wouldn’t marry until they earned enough for their wife to stay at home. For my mom, with four toddlers, there was no way that she could go to work 8 hours a day. Thank God for the chaotic and revolutionary 60s, haha! Now, a man can stay at home with the children if that suits the family better.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
5 months ago

Melissa, I agree with what everyone else has already pointed out. The women of the 50’s were incredible, indeed. You showed that so beautifully in your story. The part about Rosie lusting over the overalls made me smile. I read Christer’s comment and I’m glad he pointed that part out too. From the stories on Voice Club, I’m learning so much about history. I love it! The picture you chose is brilliant and is what drew me to read this. I kept seeing it, thinking I had to read it. Well done.

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