Contingent Women: Gender Rearticulation and the Australian Victory Contingent, 1946
Keywords:women's history, military history, australian history
This article examines women’s participation in the Australian Victory Contingent. The Contingent was formed to take part in the Victory Parade in London in 1946. The parade was to celebrate victory in the Second World War. In Australia, the war reconfigured society in many ways; economic, cultural, political, and so on. Part of this reconfiguration was a shift in gender relations across the country. During the war, women undertook work traditionally assigned to men and began to embrace new notions of femininity and sexuality. It was also the first major conflict in which they participated directly as members of the armed services. The following article investigates how women’s participation in the Australian Victory Contingent worked to confirm or deny these changing ideas about women’s role in Australian society. More broadly, it examines the military as a site where social gender norms are rearticulated and reinforced. In doing so, it argues that the Contingent’s organisers worked continually throughout the
episode to rearticulate traditional conservative notions of gender difference through the conduit of the Contingent’s men and women.