The Image of Women in the Navy

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How did people perceive the WRNS?

WRNS recruitment poster, 1970
WRNS recruitment poster, 1970 (RNM)

A perception existed amongst the public that the Women's Royal Naval Service was the most 'glamorous' of the female auxiliary services.

This idea stemmed partly from the WRNS association with the Royal Navy, regarded as the 'Senior Service'. Those in charge of the WRNS believed in the importance of maintaining high standards and there was a sense of elitism in WRNS recruitment.

The manner in which the WRNS presented itself also encouraged this image. Official photographs and recruitment material portrayed the Wrens as ladies, with an air of refinement and elegance.

The idea of women in uniform, however, has simultaneously created a sense of controversy as women adopted a non typical female role. This enforced a contrasting public perception of the Wrens.

A threatening image developed around the women, with naval personnel concerned about retaining their jobs or naval wives who pictured voracious husband snatchers.

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To find out why people saw the WRNS as glamorous, select Next


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