My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Thursday—The film which we saw last night was the story of the British Women's Military Auxiliary Services, and it was one of the most thrilling stories I have seen on the screen.

By and large, I am not sure the men of the United States are encouraging their wives and daughters to go into our auxiliary military services. I am not even sure our women are convinced they are needed in those services. They may wonder whether they really would free a man to do a job which they cannot do.

I realize, of course, that our WACS, WAVES, Marines and SPARS are not being trained for as great a variety of activities as the British women are. That makes the service less interesting. In addition, they probably resent the restrictions put upon them as to the places where they are to be allowed to work.

If I were young enough, I would rather be a nurse, for instance, in the Army or Navy, than anything else, for they are allowed to share more nearly the men's existence. They know, therefore, that there will be no attitude on the part of the boys which says: "Oh yes, you have come in to wear a uniform, but you don't really mean ever to do a job which will inconvenience you or change the ease we men are expected to provide for our women."

I sensed that attitude over and over again in some of the boys who heard anyone mention women in the auxiliary military services in the islands in the Southwest Pacific. The reason is easy to understand, because they have never seen a WAC, WAVE, SPAR or Marine girl and they do not know there are jobs these girls could do.

Life in the armed services is hard and uncomfortable, but I think women can stand up under that type of living just as well as men. It made me unhappy last night to see what the British women have done and are doing, and then to remember certain speeches I have read by gentlemen who oppose women's full participation in the auxiliary military services, when there is so much they could do. Why should British, Australian and New Zealand women render services to and with our men, and we be barred?

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 15, 1943

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.