By Kristi Waterworth
Feel Delicious is about empowering women to be all they can be, and I think there's no better representation of that in modern American history than the Women's Army Corps (WAC). This elite group of women served beside the United States Army before women were allowed to be in the army, doing many of the same tasks that had been formerly assigned to men. The WAC faced great opposition, but it also served as a shining example for women and girls of the 1940's and 1950's; no longer did they have only kitchens and infants to look forward to – they could have proper careers, they could have adventures and all because the women of the WAC seized an opportunity when it presented itself.
The bill passed, though, largely in part because of a sudden, unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor that dragged America into World War II. The WAC, although working for less pay and receiving fewer benefits than their male counterparts, moved into the jobs left behind by men who were going overseas. WACs were generally well-educated college graduates with extensive office or teaching experience. A few, like my grandmother and the first WAC Major, Oveta Culp Hobby, were journalists.
Despite the positive impact the WAC had on the army, they were violently opposed by the public. Men accused women in the WAC of being lesbians or prostitutes, secretly fearing that WACs would fill up all the safer jobs and force them onto the battlefields. Unlike those men, the WACs who served overseas did so without overseas pay, government-issued life insurance, medical coverage or death benefits – and they didn't qualify for Veterans' benefits when they left the Army. On top of that, a woman even suspected of being pregnant was immediately discharged with no explanation. Times were tough for the WACs.
Kristi Waterworth is a freelance journalist based in Springfield, Missouri with a wide range of interests; her work frequently appears on the web and in print. Waterworth developed a long love affair with the Westerning Experience while studying American history in college. Despite the lies, intrigue and mythology intertwined with fact, the American West was a place and time like no other – the extreme adventure required an extreme response. She now seamlessly integrates her journalism skill with her history background at an irregularly updated site called Fifteen Minutes. You can also catch up with her on Facebook and, of course, here on I Feel Delicious.