From the retro vault: Yes, the Army once had a video series titled “Military Etiquette and Grooming” (something a few soldiers might think is still needed today), but instead of the film focusing on proper wear of the uniform, the Army wanted to teach female soldiers … proper dating etiquette?
Yes ladies, “The Pleasure of Your Company,” one of the films in the series, teaches you that if you have just joined the Army it is best you learn to let a man order dinner for you on a date. That part comes in at minute 6:01, but if you skip ahead you’ll miss the “groovy” 1970s fashion appropriate for off-duty wear.
The series was uncovered by the National Archives from a trove of military films handed over by the Defense Visual Information Center. Another handy tip from the 1970 video: Let him open the door, because the soldier in the film states “after 17:00 hours, this little pumpkin changes and becomes the lady.”
Indeed, the Women’s Army Corps at that time was concerned with its members behaving like proper ladies (something that comes in handy when at war) and produced the video to imbue the women with “… guidance in the important subjects of grooming…grace…manners…and social behaviour [sic],” according to a blog about the films at the National Archives.
The two other titles in the series are “Mind Your Military Manners” and “Look like a Winner,” in which the Army counsels female soldiers that if they want to get ahead in their Army career, please don’t walk like a man.
The Army is not the only service to put out etiquette videos, and other branches don’t single out the ladies. The Navy produced a video teaching sailors how to score with brunettes back in 1967. The etiquette film for officers had a sister film called “Blondes Prefer Gentlemen,” also produced by the Navy. Both films were nominated by 60 Minutes for wasteful spending “Oscars,” the National Archives points out.
There is at least one film produced by the military back then that has withstood the test of time: The Return of Count Spirochete. The 1973 Navy cartoon cautions sailors against sexually transmitted diseases.
TELL US: Most of us might agree that these videos are dated, but what would the modern version of a military etiquette video look like? Tell us your suggestions for the etiquette lessons soldiers need today.