Outside The Wire

Army video taught female soldiers dating etiquette

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From the retro vault: Yes, the Army once had a video series titled “Military Etiquette and Grooming” (something a few soldiers might think is still needed today), but instead of the film focusing on proper wear of the uniform, the Army wanted to teach female soldiers … proper dating etiquette?

Yes ladies, “The Pleasure of Your Company,” one of the films in the series, teaches you that if you have just joined the Army it is best you learn to let a man order dinner for you on a date. That part comes in at minute 6:01, but if you skip ahead you’ll miss the “groovy” 1970s fashion appropriate for off-duty wear.

The series was uncovered by the National Archives from a trove of military films handed over by the Defense Visual Information Center. Another handy tip from the 1970 video: Let him open the door, because the soldier in the film states “after 17:00 hours, this little pumpkin changes and becomes the lady.”

Indeed, the Women’s Army Corps at that time was concerned with its members behaving like proper ladies (something that comes in handy when at war) and produced the video to imbue the women with  “… guidance in the important subjects of grooming…grace…manners…and social behaviour [sic],” according to a blog about the films at the National Archives.

The two other titles in the series are “Mind Your Military Manners” and “Look like a Winner,” in which the Army counsels female soldiers that if they want to get ahead in their Army career, please don’t  walk like a man.

The Army is not the only service to put out etiquette videos, and other branches don’t single out the ladies. The Navy produced a video teaching sailors how to score with brunettes back in 1967. The etiquette film for officers had a sister film called “Blondes Prefer Gentlemen,” also produced by the Navy. Both films were nominated by 60 Minutes for wasteful spending “Oscars,” the National Archives points out.

There is at least one film produced by the military back then that has withstood the test of time: The Return of Count Spirochete. The 1973 Navy cartoon cautions sailors against sexually transmitted diseases.

TELL US: Most of us might agree that these videos are dated, but what would the modern version of a military etiquette video look like? Tell us your suggestions for the etiquette lessons soldiers need today.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Jeff Knox Says:
    September 18th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    As a civilian contractor to the Army, I was appalled by the language and attitudes displayed by some of our soldiers. One incident sums it all up: In a room full of uniformed, on-duty, male and female soldiers and male and female civilian contractors, one young soldier was loudly sharing a story about a drinking binge on the previous weekend. The story was rife with gratuitous, vulgar language, including detailed descriptions of sexual acts. The soldiers were “being supervised” by an E-7 and a female O-3, but neither of them seemed to notice or care about the soldier’s inappropriate language and behavior. The E-7 was busy flirting with a female E-3 – using his own share of vulgar language, while the Captain stood by chatting with him and an E-6.
    I am not a prude, nor is my vocabulary limited, but this was way over the top, and has, I’m afraid, become the norm for today’s military. I have on occasion been compelled to ask groups of soldiers to moderate their language in restaurants and other public places where women and children were present.
    The lack of respect these soldiers show for themselves, their uniforms, and for the public is an outrage. This lack of common civility is accepted and ignored by the officer and NCO corps. Better was expected of us when I served. Sure our language and manners were rough around the barracks, but we tried to present a professional image when out in public or in mixed (senior NCO and officers) company.
    As I told one group of soldiers who wanted to argue with me when I asked them to clean up their language: Yes, I’ve heard that language before, and even used it myself. I’ve also gutted a deer before… I wouldn’t do it in the middle of I-Hop. Appropriateness is often time and location dependent.

  2. Veteran07 Says:
    September 18th, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    This is such sexist bullshit. No wonder our Generals and Admirals are clueless on how to fix the rape culture. They watched crap like this when they were junior officers! This video (and Blondes prefer gentlemen) are basically teaching men that women are morale gear and giving men a false sense of entitlement. I am surprise that the military is not doing whatever they could to cover up that such sexist, misogyny videos ever existed. Disgusting.

  3. Jessica Hinves Says:
    September 18th, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I could just imagine the horror of watching this as a female soldier in the 70′s. As a veteran I consider this a mockery of women in the military. I served and did the same exact job as my male jet mechanic comrades did. This attitude towards women has been handed down through the ranks and is embedded into the military culture and we are remiss until we remove it but furthermore it is an Achilles heel to consider such a strong asset as a liability. Women have different qualities than men different strengths. We must allow women to be incorporated completely with respect as a service member and not considered a female so we can adapt and overcome the fact that women are being allowed into more jobs now in the military. Before some pompous know it all comments on females in combat. My daughter’s middle name is roza after roza shanina look her up then lets talk about women in combat.

  4. Rodger Says:
    September 19th, 2013 at 11:27 am

    We need more of this. Female military members need to be more feminine for sure! It helps keep up the morale of the troops.

  5. No Name Says:
    September 19th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I can’t believe some of you are mad about a dated video. You’re trying to hold a video of yesteryear to the standards of today. It doesn’t even make sense to argue about what it does or does not do. If anything you should reflect about where all services have come from that time to where we are now. Working side by side with every one of all races, sexes and creeds from all around the world. Get off your high horse feminists, there’s no need for you here. The whole point of someone bringing this video to light is for a laugh at how old and antiquated the information is. Get over yourselves and celebrate where you have broken through barriers that used to be considered taboo. Next time you want to complain about equality, think about this, women have a recognized history month, where is the men’s history month?

  6. Nancy Says:
    September 19th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I joined in 82, so I missed this level of BS, but my husband, who joined in 72 has told me many times that at his first duty station (Fort Benning) there was a sign outside the WAC barracks stating, ” Venereal Disease is rampant in Columbus, GA. If you must have sex, do it with a soldier.”

  7. Unearthed: 1970 Army video discussed female etiquette — OFFduty+ Says:
    September 19th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    [...] Read more, and view the video. [...]

  8. Chuck McTaint Says:
    September 20th, 2013 at 12:17 am

    What man has ever been on a date and had silverware selection on his mind instead of what men usually (ie. always) are thinking about?

    ‘Merica.

  9. Leasha Dixson Says:
    September 20th, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I was in basic training at Fort McClellan in 1974, and we were given an abbreviated version of this training. It was NOT sexist; it was tasteful training about how to apply makeup, speak to members of the opposite sex, and how to act as a professional soldier in social settings. Back in those days, if you were spending a lot of time hanging around men, they had a name for it, and it was not a nice one.
    Many of my fellow female soldiers had never been away from home (like me), and came from strict backgrounds where dating was not allowed. To be given an opportunity to be exposed to male soldiers in a manner that allowed us to be seen as their counterparts, NOT their playthings, was a positive, not a negative, and perhaps should be reinterated in today’s military for both sexes.
    By the way, I did not watch this video (my comments are based on the training given in 1974).

    Master Sergeant Dixson

  10. Sarah Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Still waiting on the sequel “How To Civilize Cavemen into the 21st Century”

  11. john Says:
    September 25th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Wow. BACK WHEN WOMEN ACTUALLY ACTED LIKE WOMEN AND MEN ACTED LIKE MEN. More children were born IN wedlock, less mass shootings, lower divorce rates, stronger families, and more individual responsibility.

  12. SP4 Phearless Says:
    September 27th, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Jeff Knox…. what the hell do you expect from military folks? Puppies, rainbows, and well-wishes? You’re lucky the group in question wasn’t a damn TAB. One of the few units where you’ll see 13F’s working alongside females.
    Your puritanical ears would bleed from the conversations we had.
    And, what? Because this female Soldier didn’t fit your personal standard of “ladylike conduct”, there’s something wrong with her? Because the male NCO didn’t “keep the woman in check”, he’s less of a leader?
    Go back to Sunday School, and pray to your Rick Santorum shrine, doucher.

    Sarah: Don’t counter sexism with sexism. It make you just as despicable as the people you hate.

    John: Just stop talking, forever.

    Rodger: That comment was nauseating. Bottom line. I hope you’re not an NCO. I’d expect that kind of blatant misogyny from an officer, though.

  13. GI Jane Says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I am the only female in an all male unit. I meet the same standards and carry the same work load. When it comes to making the mission happen, I pull my weight, and I don’t complain about it.

    However, I have rediscovered the value of femininity. To attack that, to degrade feminine traits is to be sexist as well. I let men open doors for me, because it invites them to be gentlemen and it makes them feel good for doing something nice. Small courtesies like that are not about what we are capable of, women, they are allowing another person to be selfless in what little ways they can be on a daily basis.

    Like Rodger said, military men appreciate the little things. Just a simple smile or a kind word of encouragement is a huge blessing, NOT a sign of weakness. We have a unique gift of inner beauty that we can share with the world in a very special way. If anything, it takes MORE strength to be a lady in a rigorous setting than it does to just give up and pretend to be a man. Keep in mind ladies, I could probably take you in combatives, outperform you in any physical event, and embarass many men when it comes to job performance, but because I already know that, I don’t need to prove myself by stepping on others to make myself feel better. If anything, that would be very selfish and hurtful to my fellow Soldiers. Instead I choose the more confident approach, seeking to take care of everyone else to the best of my ability, while enjoying pretty dresses and cordial interactions with others during my off time.

    I am probably one of the only women who has ever rucked in high heels and a skirt. Pretty sure that’s tougher than pulling on your man pants and wiping off that smile. And you know what it did for my unit? Without a word, it made them quit complaining about the pain they were in, because they knew mine was worse.