"Doing a Grand Job!" Join the W.A.A.A.F

During the two wars, World War I and II, a large number of posters grabbed the public's attention in each country. These posters were used by governments to promote recruitment and encourage people to join the armed services. These recruiting posters served as a notice to advertise the war were also used for propaganda purposes, persuasion and motivation. This essay will analyse the poster captioned, "Doing a Grand Job!" Join the W.A.A.A.F. This poster was used by the Australian Air Force during the Second World War, especially to recruit women.

Propaganda refers to ideas or statements that may be false or exaggerated. According to Jowett and O'Donnell (1999), "propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behaviour to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist". The aim of the messages of propaganda is to influence the public's thoughts, opinions or behaviour. The "Doing a Grand Job!" Join the W.A.A.A.F propaganda poster, convinced the target audience to enter the military in order to fight for their own country and family. This essay will demonstrate the signification of the war poster in terms of the first and second order of signification, focusing on the gender ideology in the second order.

Signification is composed of two elements; denotation and connotation. According to Fiske (1990, pp. 85-86), the first order describes "the relationship between the signifier and signified", that derive ideas from Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 – 1913), a modern linguist. The second order of the signification describes the "interaction that occurs when the sign meets the feelings or emotions of the users and the values of their culture", that used as the term by Roland Barthes (1915-1980), a semiotician.

The war poster in this essay, "Doing a Grand Job!" Join the W.A.A.A.F (Northfield 1942) was used to recruit women to the Australian Air Force.

Large numbers of men had been sent to the battle fields during the two world wars. Most industries at that time concentrated on the war. Prior to World War II, most women did not do jobs other than household work. With most men away at war, women needed to support their families. These needs lead to the use of women in many new job opportunities created by the government. For this reason, in March 1941, The Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) was formed as the first and largest of the World War II Australian Women's services. Furthermore, women worked for the Air Force to assist male wireless telegraphers for the first time. Until WAAAF was disbanded in December 1947, approximately 27,000 women had worked. The women were accepted into 73 different positions, including highly skilled technical employment, such as telegrapher, armament worker, electrician, fitter, flight mechanic, fabric worker, instrument maker and meteorological assistant (National Foundation for Australian Women 2008).

In the left of the poster, there is a woman, oblique standing, wearing a blue jacket, a black necktie, a gray shirt, and a blue hat and gazing at the sky. In the bottom-right of the poster, an office different place from the woman, there are two women who wear the same blue clothes with the woman. The left woman of them sits on the chair, wears a headset – a pair of headphones with a microphone and writes something on the paper on the desk. The right woman also sits on the chair and typewrites. In the middle-right of the poster, there are two fighter planes behind outside of the office where two women are. Left one stands on the land in front of a plane garage around three people and right one in front of other garage stands by to take off. In addition one person who have a note-board and wears a bag, a helmet and etc., looks at the right plane. In top-right corner of the poster, there are two fighter planes flying in the sky.

The woman is depicted in the materials of the circumstance of the airfield, which suggests a strong connection between them. The woman is wearing a blue jacket, hat and a black necktie, which appears her from this uniform - her job and blue is symbol colour of the air force. She gazes at the sky where two planes are flying that reminds she work for the air force. The way that she looks at the sky, giving a long look with a smile, is reminiscent that she is proud of her self working for the air force. The blue colour conveys reader's attention to the two women in the office. Their jobs as telegrapher and typewriting suggest they also work proudly for the air force. Between sky and the office, the fighter plane standing by, indicates that two places, airfield and office, are different places and the two women are in a safe place.

The text at the top of the poster, "Doing a Grand Job!" explains what they are doing within all these elements. The key word of the text, GRAND, suggests that they work but it is not for the money, they have grand jobs for the country. The text at the bottom of the poster, "Join the W.A.A.A.F" conveys the reader to the final aim of this poster. These bold capital letters do not explain what W.A.A.A.F stands for, but the continued sentence, "AND PLAY YOUR PART IN THE BIG TASK AHEAD", suggests that the grand job is your part as telegrapher and typewriting in the 'big task' – not use WAR. Moreover, through the next sentence, "Apply – RAAF recruiting centre or local committee", the poster explains that how apply this grand job.

Therefore, this poster portrays legitimately that women can work for the air force, but not as a solder. Their 'grand' job is supporting the military where men fight. Zwingel (2004, p. 4) states that women's activities that they did for the military, country and family in the war are hardly recognised by men. Furthermore, women's parts do need hard work, so it is indicated as "play" and the "big task" is not women's part. Women just play in the men's war. It still realise that the women did not fight for keeping-peace, they just work for job making money and they are remembered behind men who were at battle field.

In conclusion, during the World War II, there were large numbers of women worked for the air force. Even though their job was not related to participate actively in the warfare, they fought the war indirectly by supporting the military at the base or by doing groundwork or by providing their domestic services to military. However, women were recognised as supporters of men who worked for country. In addition, these jobs were seen as those which were noble and respectable.

Fiske, J. 1990, Introduction to Communication Studies, 2nd edn, Routledge, London.

Jowett, G.S and O'Donnell, V. 1999, Propaganda and Persuasion, 3rd den, Sage Publications, London.

National Foundation for Australian Women 2008, Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) (1941 - 1947), National Foundation for Australian Women , viewed 28 April 2008, < http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0400b.htm>.

Northfield, J. 1942, "Doing a grand job!" Join the W.A.A.A.F, poster, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Zwingel, S. 2004, Gendered responsibilities for war and peace. Strategies of political, socio-economic and psychological reconstruction in post-war Germany, American Political Science Association, Chicago, viewed 28 April 2008, <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60595_index.html>.


Anonymous said...

Not everyone thought the job was respectable. Women in uniform were sometimes spat on. They also received verbal abuse by some older women who saw there role in the Air Force as 'hunting for a husband' or worse.
The war situation meant that women serving were from all walks of life and all states of Australia. Many women had experiences in the WAAAF that they could never have had in a non-war situation in the 1940's.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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