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The Second World War: shaping the cultural, economic, and political lives of women and African-Americans - Essay Example

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The Second World War represents a pivotal period in the history of African-Americans and women, as it saw the status of these two groups change drastically. Prior to the Second World War, women and African-Americans were the most underrepresented groups of American citizens…
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The Second World War: shaping the cultural, economic, and political lives of women and African-Americans
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The Second World War: shaping the cultural, economic, and political lives of women and African-Americans

Download file to see previous pages... The emergence of a “consumer republic” led to the alteration of political and social statuses in both the public and private sphere. In order for America to finance the war, there was need to exercise a lot of caution in domestic spending patterns. Consequently, various controls had to be instituted to help regulate prices. As a result of these controls, all Americans were required to adhere to certain price regulatory measures that were neither gender nor racially discriminative. These measures, coupled with other cultural and political factors ended up favoring women and African Americans, causing them to attain equality with other Americans.
Starting from the progressive era to the end of the Second World War, women and African-Americans were unable to take part in political policies concerning equality. However, with a majority of the men joining the army and leaving the country, opportunities that had, hitherto, been denied to women came up and the women embraced them. Women joined the working force, thus shifting from their traditional roles as homemakers to chief providers for their families. In Cohen’s opinion, joining the workforce and becoming family providers was a reinforcement of the gender roles traditionally played by women (83). Most of these women either joined in the war or got employed as clerks or shop floor attendants. These jobs were traditionally held by men, thus the Second World War brought about a cultural shift in the lives of all Americans. Consequently, women were able to find some sort of financial independence from men, the latter who had customarily been the sole providers for their families....
This new found liberation gave women the spirit to form movements and lobby groups to champion for gender equality. As a result, Cohen writes that women were encouraged, in their traditional role as consumers, to be the pillars behind good citizenship and responsible consumerism (77-83). The consumer republic was born during and in the aftermath of the Second World War when Americans learnt that responsible consumerism was the only way to survive the effects of the war. Despite being discriminated against, African-Americans and women groups actively participated in issues concerning consumerism and the price of commodities. Women and African-Americans fought to keep the prices from sky-rocketing during the war. As for the African Americans, their main concern was being charged inflated prices by some racist merchants. On the other hand, responsible consumerism meant that women entered the public scene and became the chief consumers, and engaged in labor. As a result, women and African-Americans formed advocacy groups to address consumer issues. Prior to the war, the opinions of women never counted, until Uncle Sam asked for their opinion concerning the shortages caused by the war and the depression. This is because the customary role of women was to manage households, thus they knew more about the pricing of basic commodities than the men. If America was to survive economically after the war, then women had to be actively involved in the production of commodities and in the management of consumerism. In order to achieve this, as Cohen states, tasks that had traditionally been viewed as private became common practice in the public arena (67). Particularly, the role of women shifted from ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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