"It's a woman's war too! Join the WAVES" by John Falter USNR, from 1942, presents a poignant testament to the role of women during World War II, as the United States Naval Reserve sought to expand its ranks by enlisting women, defying previously held societal norms.
Within the backdrop of the 1940s, this poster demonstrates a transformative period in American history when the traditional roles of women were being upended. As the United States plunged into World War II, the demand for personnel within all sectors of the military intensified. Responding to this call, the US Naval Reserve established the Women's Reserve, more popularly known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The creation and promotion of the WAVES represented an essential shift in the recognition of women's capabilities and their vital contributions to the war effort.
John Falter's illustration effectively captures this critical juncture, with its striking visual portrayal of a woman in a role previously occupied solely by men. The boldness of the image, underscored by the dramatic lighting and serious tone, communicates a clear and empowering message: women were not merely spectators but active participants in the war. Falter's artwork not only served a pragmatic purpose of promoting recruitment but also embodied a broader social commentary, asserting the evolving role and importance of women in society.
"It's a woman's war too! Join the WAVES" is a powerful visual artifact of the time. It offers a valuable perspective into the cultural, social, and historical changes that occurred during the 1940s, making it not just a recruitment poster, but also a social document of an era that saw a significant shift in women's roles in the military and beyond.