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Southern Women of the 1930sThe ’30s proved to be a decade devoid Essay
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Nov 19th, 2019

Southern Women of the 1930sThe ’30s proved to be a decade devoid Essay

Southern Women of the 1930sThe ’30s proved to be a decade devoid of equal rights support. After the 1920s fervor of change, the struggle for egalitarian ideals faltered. Some were satisfied with the effects of the 19th Amendment, some turned their attention to other matters of social justice, some felt women could be better aided by protective legislation, but most still believed that women belonged at home. Without making a concentrated push for equal rights, women were forced to accept specialized roles in the domestic sphere or reduced status in the “man’s world.

”(Moran 1988-89) The American women of the ’30s returned to their homes or accepted their low-status jobs with the unsettling notion that they were abandoning their proper responsibilities. Southern women of the 30s were believed to be dainty and fragile, have good manners, be a servant to their husbands and children, and be modest and poise during difficult situations. (Lee 1960) With the 1929 market crash and the onset of the Great Depression, the 1930s were quite different for women.

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With fewer jobs available, employers generally preferred to give them to men, in the name of men’s traditional role as family breadwinners. Fewer women were able to find jobs (Smith 2008). The culture pendulum swung away from more freedom for women to portraying the domestic role as the proper and fulfilling role for women. The 30s were the ultimate speed bump for the advancement of women’s rights. The 1930s were years of fierce class struggle and great advances for the working class. Probably no decade before or since has witnessed such an expansion of labor’s influence and strength in the U.S.During the Great Depression Women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. Employers were reluctant to hire women for jobs traditionally held by men, so women’s options were mostly limited to stereotypical female jobs like cleaning, cooking, child care, retail and food service. Women with postsecondary education worked as nurses, teachers or secretaries until they found a husband. People favored blaming women for men’s unemployment, claiming that the women were stealing men’s jobs. The number of women in college increased in the 1930s due to women’s growing interest in acquiring skills to support themselves. A poll in Fortune magazine asked, “Do you believe that women should have a full time job outside the home?” Only 15 percent of the respondents approved. Traditionalists believed the woman’s place was in the home, and that children needed a mother at home 24/7. Later on, both private companies and the government began to dismiss large numbers of married women and made it difficult for married women to get high-paying professional or clerical jobs. Section 213 of the 1932 Federal Economy Act prohibited more than one family member from working for the government, barring many married women from federal employment(“Working Women in the 1930s”, 2019). Even positions that were traditionally held by women, such as teacher and librarian, were affected. In 1930, 81 percent of teachers had been women; in 1940, 76 percent were women; the percentage of women librarians fell from 91 in 1930 to 86 in 1940(“Working Women in the 1930s”, 2019). Despite these restrictions, the Depression pushed many married women into the workforce. Married women sought jobs out of economic necessity, when their husbands lost their jobs, or when the husbands’ wages were too low to support their families. Women activists continued to push for equality and gender representation in the political process. Although the 1930s feminist movement was never as strong as it was in the 1920s, progress continued through the work of strong women leaders and progressive thinkers. In particular, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt championed feminism and expanded opportunities for women in the workforce. Further, she advocated for children, social welfare and racial equality. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s diversity adviser, Mary McLeod Bethune, formed national organizations for civil rights and African-American women. Countless other women also played a big role in advancing women’s political engagement through the League of Women Voters.Feminism was a big movement during the Great Depression. But as many women started working they were seen as “un-American money grubbers”. Men saw women working as a threat, stealing jobs that they needed to support families of their own. But feminists kept gaining power. They demanded protective work legislative and pushed equal treatment. The fight for women’s rights ended with the 19th amendment. The amendment stated that citizens were allowed to vote no matter what gender they were. While women gained the right to vote they still were uninformed on current issues. Politics were viewed as the man’s concern and many women didn’t want to challenge this. They then turned their attention to women’s suffrage. Issues such as welfare, the peace movement, and equal rights were being fought by the feminists now. During the presidential race of 1940 the amendment became an election issue. The Republican Party supported the cause, but opposition to equality vastly outweighed the support. After a decade of decline segregation of the genders gained strength. In conclusion, feminism gained some support, but was still a rejected idea.As many women started working they were seen as “un-American money grubbers”. Men saw women working as a threat, stealing jobs that they needed to support families of their own. But feminists kept gaining power. They demanded protective work legislative and pushed equal treatment. The fight for women’s rights ended with the 19th amendment. The amendment stated that citizens were allowed to vote no matter what gender they were. While women gained the right to vote they still were uninformed on current issues. Politics were viewed as the man’s concern and many women didn’t want to challenge this. They then turned their attention to women’s suffrage. Issues such as welfare, the peace movement, and equal rights were being fought by the feminists now. During the presidential race of 1940 the amendment became an election issue. The Republican Party supported the cause, but opposition to equality vastly outweighed the support. After a decade of decline segregation of the genders gained strength. In conclusion, feminism gained some support, but was still a rejected idea.From the 30s to now, a lot has changed. Women have more rights especially in more developed countries, whereas many women are still fighting for their rights in the lesser developed countries. In the U.S. today, women and men are equal for the most part, and have equal job opportunities. There are an increasing number of women in the workforce and also involved in politics. Without the perseverance and hardships of women who have come before us, many opportunities for women today would not be possible.

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