Female Sexual Liberation Owes a Debt to the Great War
Prior to WWI, women’s sexuality was locked down pretty tightly. No sex until marriage, full stop. When the war broke out in 1914, however, young men and women started pushing pretty hard against that wall. With men marching off to the slaughter of the Western Front, they wanted to live life while they still had one to live. As women watched their entire generation of men leave, they began to feel pretty desperate as well.
And so they pushed back against those old boundaries and they pushed hard.
When the soldiers came home on leave, girls didn’t behave quite so demurely as they had in the past. Some were downright aggressive and were labeled as having ‘khaki fever.’ The older generation reacted by forming ‘Morality Patrols.’ These were made up of older women who wore uniforms and patrolled any place where young people liked to congregate. In London alone there were over 400 of them, marching through public parks, alleyways and especially at the cinema, where they would march through the aisles checking on couples with flashlights. Naturally, even people having perfectly innocent conversations were suspect and they became something of a nuisance at the theater. In 1915, one man wrote to his local paper complaining that, “It is about time something was done about ancient spinsters following soldiers about with their flash lights.”
If you were upper class, you didn’t need to bother yourself with public parks, cinemas and those flashlight-wielding matrons. You’d simply get a taxi and “do two turns around Regent’s Park.” This brings to mind a few questions. Mainly, how big is Regent’s Park? Because two turns seems … a little short. And secondly, you have to wonder who was driving the cabs. Especially since all the young, virile men were either at the Western Front or being watched by the Morality Police.
Luckily for them (and us) more relaxed attitudes about human sexuality survived the war. The babies born out-of-wedlock were treated as war orphans and didn’t suffer the stigma of bastard as the previous generation. Having proven themselves by taking on men’s jobs during the war, there was no going back. After the war, women were given much greater freedom, both in the workforce and within marriage as equal sexual partners.
My story, ANGEL OF THE SOMME, begins my Great War Trilogy, about three English siblings during WWI. You can read more about it below. And check out my website: terrimeeker.com
There’s a fine line between courage and insanity…and he flings himself over it. The Great War, Book 1 Captain Sam Dwight never thought his pre-war vow to “make a difference for good in the world” would come back to haunt him. After suffering a grievous head wound in battle, he awakens in a field hospital, barely able to utter a word. How fast would his beautiful, determined nurse call for a straitjacket if she knew that every time a bright light flickers in his eyes, he is transported back to the trenches, reaching out to heal a wounded soldier in a flash of dazzling light?
Lily Curtis has seen many a soldier racked with guilt, but she’s never seen one will himself to induce life-threatening seizures. She fears that next time, her hands won’t be quick enough to save her handsome, apparently suicidal charge. As rumors of an ethereal battlefield specter reach the ward, Sam becomes convinced that his front line mercy missions are real. But with each trip, he spins the roulette wheel with his own life while Lily’s love and the lives of those at the hospital hang in the balance.
Warning: In between gory and emotionally charged scenes on WWI battlefields and field hospitals, there are tall tales, a lemon tree named Henry, a blush-inducing blanket bath in which something pops up between nurse and patient, and a 500-pound pet pig.
A fun and informative post thank you.
Glad you liked it, Mary! Thanks for the feedback!