Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

Matters of Size: Vintage military humor

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | June 25, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment
Tags: humorous postcard, masculinity, military, vintage postcard

WWII era humorous postcards. Though these are light and silly on the surface, they address issues in masculinity and male image that are eternal. Did men always lie about (and care so much about) their size? I especially love the question of masculinity (the small slightly foppish officer v. the big wholesome farmboy) raised in the second card after the jump. These raise all kinds of tantalizing questions about masculine stereotyping.


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I think too much is being read into the first postcard, or maybe the wrong thing. What I see is a joke about the army never getting your size right. You're going to have an ill-fitting uniform, so your only choice is whether it is too small or too large for you.

I'm not quite sure what the second one is saying.

Oh, Veronique; I dissagree! :) As a tall man (though of modest physique) 'Size' really DOES matter in the sub-concious (at least) of every man's mind. Though I'm 6 ft tall, a 6'.4" man causes my blood to quicken; a reaction of both admiration and caution. Conversely; encountering a 5'.9" man imbues me with a tad more confidence and domination that has no basis in rational thought. These are all hallmarks of our Neanderthal years, and while this nonsense chomps at the heels of 'beast vs. intellect' they seem, at least for now, eternal - and even quaint in a rather endearing way. At least; I can claim that I take no note of artificial 'muscle' (via gym membership enslavement?) ...Evolution - and the hard-scrabble competition that humanity demanded of us for our survival - demands this. Within 5 seconds of meeting any man - gay or straight - I've noted his shoe size, his hands, and the strength of his handshake. I'm also noting the straightness of his spine and teeth, the narrowness of his eyes, and at least a hundred other factors. Though 2 generations behind us, I think these cartoonist were hip to a reality that is with us today inspite of our cerebral selves? And just to follow up? Here's a shout-out to all you guys who are 5.9" and under? In my eyes? You all are imbued with a 'cuteness' factor that I covet, and will never possess - as a tall, lanky, stretched out creature (like ivy? Or kudzu?). I do all this - and you all do it to me - as we march to the beat of a Neanderthal drum. And Gloria is kind to hint at this :)

I agree with Veronique about the first postcard, although I prefer to think that he's asking the guy about the size of something else.