I’m not gonna lie: I have always had a healthy appreciation for the pinup art of the mid-twentieth century. Of course, the question of what is “healthy” never arose until recently: is it “healthy” to appreciate photos and paintings of women caught in embarrassing “whoops!” type situations which inevitably expose a stocking here, maybe some panties or a nipple there? The images range from voyeuristic to flat out bizarre: women going about their usual womanly business of cooking, grocery shopping, or gardening when their skirts inexplicably fly up to expose secret nether regions. Woman lounging in an intimate, private setting.

When I was young, I thought these paintings beautiful. But they also made me feel uncomfortable, and a bit unsafe. Is it sexy for a woman to be exposed against her will, even by accident?

I’ve only just begun to think about this this morning, as I drink my coffee over the morning perusal of Facebook. My partner, Joshua, posted some images of World War II planes decorated with pinup images of the 1940s, and it occurred to me that here was the juxtaposition of two things which have always made me feel uneasy: the pinup and the war machine. The hypersexualized, hapless, exposed 40s housewife and the machines responsible for the deadliest firebombings ever seen.

With names like “Flying Fortress” and “Liberator”, and emblazoned with images of beautiful women in vulnerable and compromised positions, these planes represent some of the ideas I am exploring with this blog: nostalgia for a time when women filled their proper roles and our country was still proud and great, merging sexuality with nationalism and war, and the apparent correlation between a culture of sexual aggression/force and the idea that this culture keeps our nation strong and safe. (Please see my entry on Tailhook and military rape for more on this.)

plane1

Salome is the prototypal femme fatale. In Christian tradition, she is famous for her seductive and mysterious “Dance of the Seven Veils” which led King Herod (inflamed with incestuous desire) to bring her the severed head of John the Baptist.

Like Jezebel, Salome is often held up as an example of the dangerous and evil power of feminine sexuality.

 

 

 

 

 

plane2Here is another image of some blonde, angelic, soft looking women delivering what look to be warheads made of delicious milk chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
plane3¬†“Surprise Attack”: attack the naked woman in the shower, or the children of Dresden? Collateral damage, both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
A woman in the crosshairs, a woman as wolf (enemy?) bait, and my favorite: a beautiful, naked, cheerful plane4woman serving as a grotesque war machine herself.

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