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Propaganda Posters And Canadian Women In World War I

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“Won’t you help and send a man to enlist today?” This was one of the most typical tasks thrown at Canadian women during World War I, which was to ask them to give permissions to their sons and husbands to go to war. Apart from propaganda posters inspiring Canadian women to help recruit more soldiers, all sorts of other propaganda posters directed to women, aimed to create a “total war” atmosphere in which women were encouraged to play a variety of active roles. Generally speaking, during World War I, propaganda posters directed to Canadian women were of great importance, because they made Canadian women permit their husbands and sons to take part in the war, encouraged them to save food and motivated them to work in all fields to support soldiers on the battlefield.

Many women were against their sons and husbands on enlisting; the propaganda posters created a sense of glory in Canadian women’s minds by giving their husbands or sons permissions and urged them to convince other bodily abled men “fighting for their king and country”. For much of the war, especially before Prime Minister Borden legalized conscription, according to law, a man couldn’t enlist unless he received his spouse’s or mother’s written permission. While this Great War was viewed as a great adventure and a few days’ off from home by most of the men, women tended to look at it differently. Women foresaw its cruelty and toughness, thus some of them did confronted their husbands or sons by disapproving them of joining the war effort. This was exactly when propaganda posters like “To the Women of Canada” turned out. Words like “You have read what Germans have done in Belgium…getting more men NOW…fight for our king and countryвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (See Appendix. A) They persuaded women step by step by helping them recall the tragedies in other countries from which most women tasted insecurities, then offering them strategies to obtain this sense of security they became lack of, telling them what they could do so that the problem could be solved, and finally concluded the persuasion with clichÐ"© on the missing glories if they didn’t permit their men to go to the war. Convinced by those propaganda posters, Canadian women were made to feel that their permissions would allow more men to protect their homeland and families. Some of them wouldn’t like to take the blame from their husbands or sons later on because their disapproval could potentially lead them to miss the opportunities of being outstanding soldiers. More assertively, other women gained a sense of responsibility that they were also supposed to convince other healthy men into serving for their country. Images like women saying “GO” firmly to men were another kind of common propaganda being used. (See Appendix. B) They could be interpreted in two ways, one was proposed to those women filled with fear by letting them know that one had to feel guilty if she didn’t allow her men to join the army, since others might find it too easy to pity her on keeping her men away from the Great War. At the same time, these “GO” images were also conveying a message to Canadian women that they were supposed to push more men outside their home, into preventing their country from being invaded. In retrospective, what a successful job these propaganda posters had done, it would be hard to image how many men would have to say at home during World War I otherwise.

Canada Food Board pushed women to save food at home so that more soldiers could be given sufficient food supplies. Food rationing was not widespread in Canada until World War II. However, Canadian government didn’t hesitate to publish propaganda posters issuing their concern on the shortage of food supplies to Canadian soldiers. One poster deciphered this situation very well by showing us what a young mom said to her baby, “Remember we must feed Daddy too”. (See Appendix. C) The reason why this poster appealed to Canada Food Board was it went to an extreme in which even babies weren’t fed enough because those male soldiers were waiting to be “fed” as well. Apparently, most Canadian women would be touched by this kind of image mentally and volunteered to save food. Other propaganda posters on saving food put an emphasis on how to live efficiently on a certain amount of food. “Waste Not-Want Not” was a perfect example. (See Appendix. D) An elder woman was telling a younger one that making canned food could preserve seasoned food for a longer time so that less food could be wasted, in other words, more food would then be available for the soldiers on the home front. Although most Canadian soldiers still complained about their meals, women certainly had managed a

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