Staight = not gay

Well they feed us lousy chow but we stay alive somehow
On dehydrated eggs and milk and stew. The rumour has it next
They’ll be dehydrating sex. That’s the day I tell the coach I’m through
For I’ve managed all the dangers. The shooting back at strangers
But when I get home late I want my woman straight, Buster

The innocent interpretation is that the man singing the song wants his woman ‘straight’ in the same way he likes his whiskey: Unadulterated (heh). That is, 100% woman. (Or he doesn’t want a woman who’s been dried out and re-moistened.) But the obvious, now, interpretation is that he wants a heterosexual woman.

This ditty was written in WWII. Did ‘straight’ mean ‘not gay’ in WWII? Or is it a later usage? If the former, when did ‘straight’ get that meaning?

I doubt it. WWII is about the time that “straight” and “gay” began to take on their current meaning, but it was probably not very mainstream at that time. Link.

“Gay” had homosexual connotations well before WW2 although, as you say, mainstream America wouldn’t have been very clued in.

Straight as in dope

One of the meanings is: without personal embellishments, additions, or put into proper form or condition.

So no dehydrated sex, he wants a girl the way she’s supposed to be.

The little deconstructionist in me screaming to get out wants to say that “when I get home late I want my woman straight” means that the male has certain prerogatives (what used to be called cattin’ around) that he is not about to grant the female (who had better stay loyal).

Of course, in the 1940s, the little deconstructionist in me would have been cruising for a beatdown, so YMMV.

The OED says it originally means “socially respectable.” By 1941, it meant “heterosexual.”

Judging by the definition here, it appears to be related to somone “going straight” that you’d hear in 30s movies concerning ex-gangsters (That use dates back to 1853). The idea was that a homosexual who went back to being heterosexual was similar to a criminal who went back to a conventional life.

Any chance he’s meaning it as short for “straightaway?”

I have a 1941 book in which a picture illustrating the story is captioned “ pretends to be gay.” Gay here means of course cheerful. It looks humorous from a modern perspective, but only the tiniest slice of the audience would have seen a double meaning in it at the time.

I think I’ve encountered “straight” as a synonym for “square” - someone who doesn’t enjoy the hip stuff in life like jazz or beat poetry or reefer. Basically, as short for “straightlaced”.

Not really, though. It seems to have meant pretending to be heterosexual or becoming heterosexual, but not necessarily being heterosexual form the get go.

Well, yes. The concept was that homosexuality was a choice, and you went straight when you decided to choose otherwise (like you went straight if you decided to give up a life of crime). But it’s clear that this transferred to mean heterosexuals in general, much like the slang “gay” transferred to mean homosexuals in general.

And I have to wonder if there was a time lag in using the terms “gay” and “straight” to describe women. Let’s not forget that the OP is talking about a reference to a woman.

That’s true, but I was actually wondering when ‘straight - not gay’ was first used, and when it became common. I had no thought about gender.

Non-heterosexual women, from my reading, referred to themselves largely interchangeably as “lesbian” or “gay” (or specifically “gay girls” in many references) through the 40s, 50s and 60s. The use of the word “lesbian” started becoming more exclusive with the rise of the women’s movement and lesbian separatism. Now I think we’re back to a lot more interchangeable or women preferring in some instances “gay” over “lesbian.” I think it was spurred in large measure by Ellen Degeneres’ famous “Yep, I’m Gay” Time magazine cover but of course I have no particular cite for that. But woe betide any person or organization who leaves the “L” out of “LGBT” in anything official or important!

I’m pretty sure it means “without anything else.” As in, “whiskey, straight up, please.” Or to put it another way, not with any male tendencies. During the war, many women learned they were called upon to (and could) do things that before were “unfeminine” and socially prohibited (essentially doing typically male jobs, like working in factories, construction, etc.).

It’s an anti-Rosie the Riveter statement. Not so much about sexuality as about “I want to return to the U.S. status quo I left before I was sent to the south Pacific, to kill or be killed by people I’d never even thought about before…”

As recently as 1977 “straight” still had the alternative meanings of:

• part of the “establishment”, aka “square”, not “hip”, not “countercultural”

• not a stoner; doesn’t smoke marijuana, doesn’t drop LSD

• not currently at this specific moment stoned, drunk, or tripping; sober
See for instance Hole, “Credit in the Straight World”. I don’t think Courtney Love meant the world of breeders had just issued her a Visa card.

Jeez. To me the lyric seems to pretty clearly be a riff on all the lousy food the GIs ate: eggs, milk, stew, etc.

When he gets home, he doesn’t want a reconstituted woman, too. He wants a woman without added water; c.f. straight whisky. I suppose that the rhyme scheme could have been altered to use neat instead, but that would open up a new set of double meanings.

Not to say that we can’t have a chuckle about the modern double meaning, but the previous lines keep referring to unpleasant dehydrated things, including dehydrated sex, which I’ve got to imagine is pretty crummy. He’s not complaining about how mannish the European women are, or anything like that.

Yes. I only included that because it is what made me wonder about the question. I could have phrased it better.

As AHunter3 notes, while the meanings of straight and gay have included references to sexuality since the 1930s and 1940s, they were very definitely not in the mainstream. And they took on addition meanings in the same order: gay came to mean homosexual within the gay community in the 1930s, generally, with a few earlier but uncommon references, then straight took on the meaning of “not gay” within the homosexual community in the 1940s.
Gay = homosexual did not make it into general society until the early 1970s (although there are references–probably confusing to the genreal public–a bit earlier, and then straight entered the general public as more gay speakers used the term in broader society.

A 1941 song associated with the military would not have used straight to mean heterosexual. Heterosexuality would have been the presumed situation in that context with homosexuality being identified with strong pejoratives such as queer, faggot, or dyke.