Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.549639
Title: Venereal disease in the British military through conflict and reconstruction 1939-1950
Author: Harris, Andrea
Awarding Body: University of Winchester
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
Responses to venereal disease in the British army can only be understood if looked at in a wider context that takes in the attitudes of some of the most influential sectors of British society. Medical professionals, especially those advising and working with the British army, suggested that the problem would be better resolved ifVD was simply treated like any other disease; they called for treatment to be blame and stigma free. However, the British army found this impossible and resorted to an assortment of strategies that were relics of the past and were often at variance with each other. Troops lost pay and rights to leave if they contracted VD confirming that to become infected was a punitive offence; lectures confirmed to troops that to be celibate would not endanger health and to contract a venereal infection was letting down themselves, their comrades and the nation. At the same time the army provided military brothels and disinfectants to use after sex. This thesis examines the influences that obstructed a clear policy; it is only with a thorough investigation into the discourses that surrounded VD that we can appreciate the deficiency and ambiguity of the strategies adopted. The attitudes of the churches, the religious organisations, the voluntary groups and the popular press confirmed that certain groups were to blame and the result of these persistent and Ubiquitous views was that no clear course of action was ever universally accepted or implemented. VD like other social diseases generated responses that confirmed that VD was more than the 'common contagion' that some doctors would have preferred it to be. Strategies to combat it were complicated by the social construction of the disease, obscured by perceptions of who was most likely to catch it and fears over the repercussions for society and the nation, especially during a time when being different took on new meaning. Fears surrounding the infection of individual bodies metaphorically represented broader fears for the body ofthe nation and just as those from outside the nation were distrusted so were the 'infectors' within.
Supervisor: Aldous, Chris ; Haydon, Colin ; Lawson, Tom Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.549639  DOI: Not available
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