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June 28, 2005

Designed by a Man

The last few times I've walked down Whitehall I've seen the new Memorial to the women of WWII, draped in a cloth.

Today it was uncovered, presumably for photos; it will be unveiled next week. It's a bronze slab on which are hung a variety of women's uniforms.

I hate it. One of the problems with the way that the women who served in the last war are remembered is by their clothes. There's a sort of weird fetish thing going on about 40s women and their clothes. This memorial perpetuates this; by focusing only on the clothes it implies that they maketh the woman, that the important thing we need to remember about these women is the clothes they wore.

Of course, I automatically assumed the memorial was designed by a man -- and so it proves; John Mills, who has made a bit of a career out of memorial design. There are official explanations of the choice of memorial here (note the repeated references to 'girls') and here.

Posted by Alison Scott at June 28, 2005 10:07 PM


That's appalling. That the most important thing is that they quietly hung up their working clothes and went back to being domestic slaves afterwards? I could see some reactionary plonker suggesting this in 1926 for the ambulance drivers and munition workers from 14/18, or even someone in the 50s with the propaganda campaign to get them back into tiny waists and high heels and kitchens. But, oh no, it's making me say it, In This Day And Age it's Soooo Patronising.

Posted by: Fran Dowd at June 29, 2005 09:04 PM

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