Trying Not To Be A Disgrace

I found it was really interesting how only wealthy women could be nurses or ambulance drivers during the war. However, I wasn’t too surprised, because I remember hearing that, back then, lower-status women were considered “filthy” or “whorish.” I also found it very interesting how it was a huge honor to ride in the ambulances and be a nurse during the war (I guess that’s because everyone had to “do their bit”), but that it was considered terrible and a dishonor to your family if you returned early from the war because you couldn’t handle being a nurse or ambulance driver.
Hearing/reading about all the injuries that happen at war, I don’t think could stomach being a nurse in any war. My mom’s a nurse practitioner, and just the “horror” stories she tells me freaks me out. Growing up with a doctor dad and nurse mom, I’ve never been scared of blood, and although pictures of injuries don’t gross me out, I feel like being on the battlefield and treating the wounded— just seeing all the gore in person— would freak me out. If I was a wealthy woman back then and went to war as a nurse, I wonder if I would have gotten over the terrible injuries I would have had to treat or if I would go home early. Knowing me, I’d probably cry a lot (I care way too much about people and I feel like all the fatalities and horrific injuries would make me extremely sad, like Helen Smith said she was when she first arrived) but I’d suck it up because I wouldn’t want to disgrace my family, like Tosh said to Smith.

2 thoughts on “Trying Not To Be A Disgrace

  1. I guess the nurses and ambulance drivers had to become desensitized just like the soldiers did. It’s either that or live with the horrors because even if they went home early, they still had to deal with everything they had seen.

  2. I never really thought about the women in the war all that much until now, and I completely agree with your statement about upper-class women being the ones that go out and do this duty. Which, I think is interesting due to the fact that the recruitment posters and propaganda for the war was appealing towards lower class men, not the upper class. It just makes me think of the double standards and stigmas that were placed on each gender during this time and how it was actually carried out. Upper-class men seemed to be “too good” to go out and serve and for the lower class this was their “duty/job” to serve their country but lower class women were too “filthy and whorish” to take care of the men of the same rank as them so these more “pure and angelic”upper-class women would do it instead.

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