Among my favorite WWII books that I keep on hand is United We Stand by Richard J. Perry. It’s full of brightly-colored 1940s images, and you know that’s my bag. Unless otherwise noted, all of today’s images come from this book. While I don’t go in for the nudity in many pin-ups, I do appreciate the artistry, skill, and the motive for hanging them–which was to inspire the GIs. (Incidentally, did you know GI stood for “Government Issue”?)
If it were up to me, all pin-ups would keep their clothes on, and wind would not be constantly blowing their skirts up. They might also not look so surprised about the blustery weather. But I admit when I was young, I thought the Vargas girls were just beautiful. I had no idea they served any purpose other than looking pretty.
Upon whichever end of the spectrum you stand, in this world of rampant internet porn and the demise of the iconic Playboy, it’s hard to argue against the fact that pin-up girls made our boys want to stay alive. They helped win the war. Whether it was on the nose or side of the plane……or when they smoked (which was often)…
or on the walls at nightfall…
…these pin-ups reminded our fighting men of home, of their girlfriends, of the home front. Sweet, innocent-looking but scantily clad, hourglass-figured, predominantly wavy-haired young white women. Clean women for dirty thoughts.
I can’t explain it; I’m XX. Women don’t respond to visual stimuli in the manner that men do. We can turn away. We can frankly be bored by it. In fact, I’d wager that if women were doing the fighting, it would be posters of chocolate and wine on the walls. Damn the enemy who takes my freedom to eat dark chocolate pecan delights and sip Riesling! Or maybe the posters would include Matthew McConaughey holding chocolate and wine. But he’d still be wearing pants.
Well, maybe not. In any event, we’d be more realistic about it. We wouldn’t pretend paper boys looked like this. Extra, extra, my clothes are falling off, and I’m in stilettos!
Or that petty officers looked like this.
But if it worked, it worked. Whatever keeps your eye on the prize. Defeat the enemy and come home to touch naked women. Surely the Axis boys had pin-ups, too. Maybe it just came down to which side had the best pin-ups?
Even German hospitals knew what was effective medicine.
The image of Marika Rokk, famed music star in Nazi Germany, may have helped this wounded German soldier heal. But they still lost.
Like it or not, right or wrong, men like attractive naked women. That’s how they’re hardwired, so there’s no point in faulting that. Look at the interior cabin of any semi truck today. By comparison, WWII pin-ups (whether art or photography) would seem tame. I bet it’s pretty raunchy in that cab. It would probably gross me out. But that’s the price of freedom. And thank God for freedom.