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Development of Women during the 1920's to the 1930's - Essay Example

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The focal point of Women's suffrage is considered by historians to be 1920-1930. This is the time when Agriculture gave way to the industrial era and the dawn of prohibition, and The Great Depression, called for Women to take on a new role in the United States…
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Development of Women during the 1920s to the 1930s
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Download file to see previous pages She says, "No change had a greater impact on women's roles than the transition from primarily an agricultural economy to a corporate, commercial, industrial one, a change that took slowly over decades Harrison (1997)."
She goes on to note that this was particularly true of the African American woman's movement in that, "Urban working-class mothers, especially African-Americans, themselves engaged in industrial production or domestic work for pay; by 1920, about 9 percent of married women worked outside the home for wages (Harrison, 1997)." Harrison goes on to note the complex way in which The Great Depression effected the transition of women being housewives to contributing to the working class. During The Great Depression unemployment rates rose to 25 percent and with many men out of work, their wives were subject to do remedial jobs that men wouldn't take like house cleaning, nursing, dry cleaning and secretary jobs, as Harrison notes "in fact most women worked only at jobs that men did not do and so by the start of World War II, almost 15 percent of wives were working, up from 12 percent at the beginning of 1930. The remedial work women suffered through during 1920 to 1930 eventually escalated during World War I when men were sent off to war. There was a void in the working class and women were needed to take on jobs that were traditionally reserved just for men.
The image of the hardworking American woman became personified in the billboard plastering's of the "Rosie the Riveter" image. Millions of women gained access to government and non-military factory jobs and as Harrison notes during World War I, "The percentage of women in the work force went from pre-war figures of 25 percent to a wartime peak of 38 percent (Harrison, 1997)." These work figures are significant because it was through employment women could establish self-worth and liberate themselves from a dependence on men for personal survival. These higher paying positions were temporary though, and as soldiers returned from war women were quickly weeded out of industry positions and this began a trend of women leaving the labor force and focusing on raising families leading into the late 1940's on through to the 60's.
Despite the transition for equal rights during the 1920's and 30's, women still had slim to no authority over their identity or future as it applied to their place in society in the United States. During this period there were excessive reports of domestic violence, and in the medical world women were habitually over-diagnosed with having psychological disorders and in many cases sent away to medical facilities. No work better captures the complexities of this issue and time in American history than Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar." In her article, "A Ritual For Being Born Twice" Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, Marjorie G. Perloff analyzes the popular appeal the novel holds among young women. The concept of the emotional distress that comes from illness conflicting with the psychological and social boundaries, used to confine women during the 1930's, is interpreted as a major contribution to the books growing fan base. The major draw the book has is the complex nature of Esther's dysfunctions. She is mentally ill in a way that leaves her situation ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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