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What do you think about the monument to the women of WWII?

(22 Posts)
ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 09-Nov-10 14:38:42


Thought it was a seasonal one with the Cenotaph coming up on Sunday. I find it quite odd myself. Why is it just clothes? No figures? Or am I just being old fashioned?

southeastastra Tue 09-Nov-10 14:39:57

weird, though i think they should add the knickers my mil made out of silk to tempt the americans as well.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 09-Nov-10 14:42:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 09-Nov-10 15:06:15

SEA - parachute silk I hope

It just seems strange - as if it's commemorating that they stopped doing the jobs that they did (hence hanging up clothes), rather than the fact that they did them.

seeyoukay Tue 09-Nov-10 19:56:34

Its showing the jobs roles they filled.

PortBlacksand Tue 09-Nov-10 20:00:22

I have seen it in the 'flesh' and find it quite haunting and very striking.

Yes it shows all the jobs and roles women fulfilled - an actual portrait of a woman might negate this. These women were ordinary daughters, wives and mothers and they fulfilled these roles and nothing was ever quite the same again in gender equality (nb i know we still have a long way to go).

PortBlacksand Tue 09-Nov-10 20:03:27

Sorry i realise my use of the word 'ordinary' might not be the right one. What i mean is that they stepped up to the plate iyswim.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 09-Nov-10 22:13:15

Just seems so passive...when really the women were so BUSY and alive.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 09-Nov-10 22:14:10

And also, you know, there aren't that many statues of women. It might have been nice to see that, rather than just bundles of clothes that no-one can identify from a distance.

PortBlacksand Wed 10-Nov-10 07:40:45

Hmmm - been thinking about the clothes hanging up have been left behind by women who have gone back to their life / role etc. as 'women' and left the jobs behind for the day / night / lifetime....


dittany Wed 10-Nov-10 08:40:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sethstarkaddersmum Wed 10-Nov-10 09:11:29

my immediate reaction to this is 'oh bloody hell, women commemorated by clothes.
It is similar to Imperial War Museum North in Manchester where there is a section on 'women' that is basically 'clothes'. hmm
However, I am not quite sure about this; an acquaintance of mine at uni was doing an oral history PhD on women in the WAAF and part of her methodology was to follow the themes they wanted to talk about and she found that clothes featured quite strongly.
So it might be that if you did focus group and what have you with women who has been in WW2 and asked them what would be meaningful to them, this is what they would say.
(and a monument built in 2005 might well have had the odd focus group behind it....)

sethstarkaddersmum Wed 10-Nov-10 09:14:31

from the Wiki entry:
'The monument has come under some criticism[citation needed] because it is specifically for women, whilst there exists no memorial specifically to the men of World War II,'
how grudging are some men people?!

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 10-Nov-10 09:53:17

that "citation needed" says it all doesn't it.

Interesting about focus on clothes - I hadn't thought about it that way specifically. It might be that women in the WAAF had specific issues with clothing that was unsuited to them for instance. Most of the women I've talked to who lived through the war have talked about the travel, the hard work, the independence, the sadness but never IIRC the clothes!

sethstarkaddersmum Wed 10-Nov-10 10:02:23

I don't think there was a particular issue with the WAAF uniform, it's more that she was getting them to remember little details about how the experience felt as well as big things.

actually maybe that's it - ie that's why I find the memorial problematic - the focus on the clothes means a focus on their subjective experience rather than the big themes to which their work contributed. So it might well have been appropriate for oral history but not appropriate for a memorial.
Because a memorial to the men would not have been about how it felt, it would have been about what they achieved.

(I want to know more about SEA's MIL though grin)

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 10-Nov-10 10:59:19

Yes that's a good point.

It seems to be glorifying the fact that they did these jobs and then after the war they didn't need these practical clothes any more, because they went back to wearing pretty dresses etc. Rather the fact of the excellent job that so many of them did. I was looking at another sculpture done by the same person, the firefighter memorial outside St Pauls, and that is an incredibly dynamic image, three men lunging into the fire. But surely there were women firefighters in the war, women in the watchtowers, certainly women building armaments, nursing and doctoring etc. But unless you have an unnaturally good knowledge of the significance of piles of rumpled clothes, you will never know what they represent.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave Wed 10-Nov-10 11:08:12

There are seventeen different roles commemorated; a statue with seventeen individual female figures would be a bit crowded, while leaving some out would seem ungrateful. It certainly looks very striking.

I can see the clothes thing going either way -- in contrast to the "they did these jobs and then after the war they didn't need these practical clothes any more, because they went back to wearing pretty dresses etc." it could be seen as "when they were needed they picked up these roles quickly and seamlessly". And as pps have said the theme of clothes is one that does crop up repeatedly in interviews so does seem to be something that was of significance to the actual generation being commemorated.

I would rather have female figures on other memorials, mind you. But I do like this one on balance.

london0hull4 Thu 11-Nov-10 22:27:37

I love this memorial and have always thought the clothes look hung up after a hard day at work, ready for the next one rather than hung up at the end of the war.

celticlassie Thu 11-Nov-10 22:48:25

I thought the clothes thing was a bit confused. I've seen it and certainly thought it striking but not sure it's not a bit flippant.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 11-Nov-10 22:50:53

yeah could be london. I want to like it. I just get the feeling that it's missing the point somehow.

how do you mean flippant celticlassie?

QuintessentialShadows Thu 11-Nov-10 22:54:41

I saw it "for real" in October. It is very haunting, it made quite an impact. When looking at it, you easily get the symbolism. All the roles women filled during the war. Very apt. I nearly cried. And I am not so very emotional.

celticlassie Thu 11-Nov-10 23:03:53

As in women are just clothes, no real substance. But not sure. And still not sure that I don't like it... But not because of the substance thing... (Quite hard to articulate...)

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