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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Prisoners of war

Prisoners of war - History Extra

"Having loved ones at home was a great source of support but also reminded POWs of their potential inadequacies. So I talk about in my book about the three Ps of masculinity - provider, protector and procreator. And these were all denied to POWs... these men couldn't provide for their family - instead their families were providing for them by sending them parcels and they often, when they open these parcels they compare themselves to children at Christmas. So they've reversed that relationship... Lieutenant John Phillips writes about how he was in monastic seclusion when he is writing to a lady that he had hoped to eventually marry...

In nineteen forty two some British POWs found themselves with their personal possessions removed including their razors. And Major Casdagli was involved in this. And he writes of how in the camp men responded to that by having beard competitions: who could grow the long, longest beard, who could grow the silkiest one and through that they kept the morale high...

Female impersonators were a common sight in the main POW camps. The, those camps that held officers or the sort of the non working pows and they often appeared on stage and if you see there are some photos in my book, there are lots of photos out there on the Internet. They're dressed, they're incredible. And dressed in these stunning outfits. Very female like. And in the diaries and letters POWs very strongly stressed how similar these female impersonators. how good they were at impersonating women. Sometimes they even say that they're better at being women than women themselves and women will learn something off them which I think is an interesting example of the dominance of the gender hierarchy when men are claiming their superior, superiority by being better women than women can be... POWs were also very readily discussing the attractiveness of these women...

There's a different mentality happening from today's mentality around sexuality and sexual identity. They were readily saying in their letters to their wives, how how beautiful these women were... that didn't raise a question. I don't think in their minds or... or the minds of those at home, that this was sort of questioning their sexuality. That just didn't seem to be an issue like it might be today if a man says how attractive another man is when dressed up as a woman"


Caitlyn Jenner was not the first to be better than women at being a woman.
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