Graphics influence our decisions throughout our everyday lives and have for decades. These images have an impact on both our conscious and sub-conscious minds. Whether the question is which cereal to buy, or how we view women through the lens of Photoshop on a magazine cover, or, as in WWII, deciding if it’s acceptable for a women to enter military service.
Throughout the last three centuries, the images of women in the use of war propaganda have changed with the times. In the Civil War there were women who fought disguised as men. Because the culture did not support their presence on the battlefields, there was no organized propaganda associated with their actions. By the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s the suffragettes fought for the right to vote, as well as for an opportunity to influence the way women participated in war, ushering in a more active future role for women in war.
Our study will move to WWII, a war in which women were encouraged to leave their homes and work on the assembly lines and for the military. The women of the home front took over the men’s jobs and helped with the war effort. Students will learn how images of Rosie the riveter, along with a myriad of other visual propaganda, saturated citizens’ experiences and transformed the feminine image into a national effort to influence every American on the home front, with the ultimate goal of winning the war.
Moving on from the women of WWII, we will study the Be All That You Can Be campaign of the 1980’s. This campaign sparked the largest influx of women in military history and offered the opportunity of a college education. We will discuss what kind of audience this campaign was marketed toward: Be All That You Can Be was an effort to reshape and change the image of the military. The Army was viewed as a career of last resort during the 1970s, just prior to Be All That You Can Be. The ad campaign focused on not what “you could do for your country,”
but on what the Army could do for the average person during peacetime.
We will conclude our unit by examining the Army Strong campaign (2006), Army Strong is the first interactive, multi-media advertising campaign with women as a target market. The campaign appeals to recruits who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. As students study the process of creating a multi-media campaign, they will also notice the number ways the military seeks to reach out to recruits and reassure them and their parents about military service. Finally, by examining multiple points of view, students will deal with the question of whether the campaign gives a realistic view of military service.