(B-17 ‘Sally B’)
With the world having become so politically correct is the sexualised content of many a nose art piece still acceptable in the modern consciousness? Times have changed, it is no longer acceptable to describe a woman as the “little lady” or assume her place is in the home, after all woman burnt many a bra in the name of feminism. But should that mean that art from another decade, another way of thinking should be cast out as being degrading and demoralising to the so-called fairer sex? No one is suggesting that the voluptuous ladies painted in the 1600’s by Paul Rubens are sexist and degrading so why are the pin-up girls of the 1940’s? Is it just another example of the P.C brigade controlling our democratic right as individuals to express ourselves?
(Rubens ‘The Judgement of Paris’ http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/img/Rubens-judgement-paris-NG6379-r-half.jpg)
Some say that the RAF are planning to eradicate to the practice of displaying a high-heeled (and often not a lot else) clad painted lady on the side of their warbird to protect the feelings of the female staff. In 2007 it was decreed by the RAF that offence was being caused after receiving some 5,400 complaints from women within the RAF. Are they not just being a little over sensitive? Or is this an acceptable view to take? Surely the MoD have more pressing concerns than whether a shapely leg is going to cause a complaint? This came after a visit from modern pin-up or page 3 girl (though of course that has also now been eradicated) Lucy Pinder to the RAF detachment in Kandahar where she posed with and signed a painting of herself on the side of a harrier jet. Pinder described the sexualised art as “harmless fun”, (see an interview with Lucy in the link below) whereas an RAF spokesman described it as against equal opportunities and that “if you have women flying aircraft and working on them as engineers then these kinds of pictures are inappropriate…it’s crossed the line and that’s why they have been removed”. Surely if equal opportunities is the concern, then women should just add a few painted men to the mix? Preferably a few ripped, 6 packed and well endowed half-naked men sporting the slogan “Spunky Town”. Not sure that would get past the RAF bosses though.
Of course upsetting the delicate female is not a new thing, but then back in the 40’s surely it was even more sensational for a woman to be confronted with a risqué painting of a naked or near naked woman than it is today when we are assaulted by the naked form every time we switch on the TV. Often when the wife of the C.O would be visiting the barracks the crews would have to paint over their luscious ladies so as not to cause the genteel and probably well-heeled broad to reach for her smelling salts. However this didn’t deter them, they used a water based paint when covering the art work so that once she had departed they could simply soar through a rain storm to return to bird (and warbird) to its former beauty. Even during World War II the USAAF attempted to censor what was allowed and at times even attempted to ban it, generally though those in power would turn a blind eye. As documentary maker Gail Downey states “The crews were young. What else did those boys think about but girls and what good would it do to clamp down on it?”
(B-26 ‘Hard to Get!’)
Will this about turn eventuate a total removal of our historic art work as well? What a loss that would be, and surely if that were the case then half of the art in most museums should be removed and burnt as it may cause offence to 1% of the world-wide population. Thankfully an article in 2013 stated that the Air Force would make an exception for historic nose art and as such none would be removed from display. Col. Cassie Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing is quoted as stating “I think the tradition and history at the Air Force museum is just that…That’s our history. We’re not going to go back and change those because that’s part of our history and that’s an important part of our organisation… the museum will keep the displays that they have just as they are”.
If it is more about the modern use of the art form then shouldn’t the sensible shoe wearing anti nudity promoters concentrate their efforts on less artistic and uplifting art forms such as the top shelf of many a news agents?
(Lancaster ‘Sugar’s Blues’)
Shouldn’t women (and as I am one I feel I can make this statement) embrace the beauty of our female form and take it as a compliment that these pilots and their crews choose to lovingly adorn their beloved aircraft with representations of their loved ones, the ladies they left behind or even their dream girl? Is it the sexuality they abhor or is it in fact the unrealistic representation?
(B-25 ‘Heavenly Body’)
As Ernie Pyle once wrote “There are so many different ways to die…” surely if one has to die in the horror that is war then they should be afforded the honour of doing it with their choice of art work adorning their bird, no matter what the so-called do gooders think.
(B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sentimental Journey’ featuring Pin-up Betty Grable)
So whats next?
(PBY Catalina ‘Next Objective’)
What do you think?