American Women and the World Wars Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

History Of American Warfare

The end of the American warfare marked the beginning of the way women were treated in the public and the domestic sphere. Women movements largely lobbied for equal rights, new women organizations, and the emergence of a new era of women photographers, artists and professionals, modified the traditional patriarchal social framework across the world. These social changes, which had been set in motion at the dawn of the century, developed further as females were propelled into the labor force. As such, they were subjected to the previously male-dominated professional and political situations. By the mid of the 20th century, female's activities and issues were identified as a significant factor of the scientific, literary and cultural scenery of several nations, indicating a revolutionary change in the domestic and cultural positions.


As the warfare ended, various changes concerning various women's positions in the society had appeared. Typically, the women labor force contained young couples without kids, single women, or self- supporting widows and separated women. In the period between 1940 and 1944, married females outnumbered the single ones for the first time in the history of United States (Kiernan, 2014). The impressive increase of employed married women during the war triggered their long-lasting doubt between the dedication to marriage/family and their position in the paid labor force. Although many women in the U.S. began to work and had more money than ever before, they had to evolve to the interruptions created at the home front throughout the war. Since many raw materials were focused for use in the army, many women had to care for their families and use the available goods and products than before. Shortages in customer products affected and annoyed almost everyone.

In order to enhance production and maintain supplies for the military fighting in the war overseas, the Office of Price Administration (OPA) decided to launch the Food Rationing System in 1942 (Weatherford, 2008). This system was launched to limit the purchase of certain items and included ten major items, which were to be followed by others later. At first, women at home were requested to preserve as much food as possible and gather their rationing manuals and stamps. Each family was expected to register and claim for rationing coupons. The amount of tokens that individuals received relied mainly on the number of family members. The stamps or coupons, replacing cash, entitled the customer to buy different items that were limited. This also includes items like coffee, sugar, butter, tires, meat, and fuel oil and later even shoes and clothes.

Despite all the participation in the workforce, women maintained their conventional principles during the war - they were dedicated to their families. There was even a distinct rise in the number of weddings during the war. Partners usually desired to be married before they were separated by call-up. Initially, it was unpatriotic to invest significant amounts of cash on a big conventional wedding, but between 1940 and 1943, there were one million more weddings than usual. Weddings often had to be organized in a rush because it was challenging to get leave or a day off at the war. There was also a lack of wedding rings and most of the regular wedding cake ingredients- lard, eggs, dry fruits and many more, were rationed. No adverse results restricted the betrothed from planning a wedding. Individuals also began to be married at an early age, and females became mothers sooner. The number of kids at the age of five and below improved by 25% by the end of the war (Weatherford, 2008).

Even with this pattern, many women also began to question themselves whether being mothers would make them happy and satisfied. Quite various them held a limited perception of pregnancy and began to look for birth-control technology. In 1942, the Parenthood Federation of the United States came into being and began to promote contraception method. The federation expected to attract all classes besides focusing on the working class. Women also began to prefer professionally managed childbirth in medical centers to delivery from novice midwives. Although the common age of females planning a marriage for the first time was 22.0 before the war, the number had decreased to 20 as the war ended. Although early marriages were common, the number of marriages that ended in divorce increased also. While in the thirties, the percentage of separations was stable at about 1% of all married females, this pattern improved during the mid-forties to 2.4% (Yellin, 2010).

Regardless of the increase of family income, the number of poverty-stricken families improved, as well. Housing problem, starvation problems, lack of educational institutions, medical centers, and childcare facilities are believed to have contributed to the increase of divorce. Following the cost, some partners did not decide to be divorced, desertion improved even more. Increasing divorce and desertion prices were often attributed to be new working choices for females. There was even a wartime version of the United States women's cookbook. It was introduced to assist women in dealing with the inadequacy of ingredients and provided recipes tailored to resolve the food shortage (Weatherford, 2008).

In contrast, rationing would seem to have breached the conventional United States principles of individual choice, and thus it met with many adverse reactions and adverse responses. The serious one was the rise of the black market. The forecast that rationing, in the same way as prohibition in Twenties, would cause bootlegging came true (Sheldon, 2008). Although some items at the market were more costly, people could get what they desired even if they knew this way of getting access to limited products was unlawful.

Majority of single women who began to work during the war initially intended to work only for few years. Their aim was to generate some money for their weddings and houses and exit the workforce after marriage. A common wedded woman was still predicted to satisfy mainly the role of mother and wife, be accountable for the housework, looking after her kids and husband. Many people expected that a woman could be satisfied and happy only when bringing up her kids. She usually had her first kid in the first year of marriage and several other ones in the following decades. During the Forties, many females began to consider whether they are able to recognize with such anticipations introduced against them. Quite a lot of them took jobs when their first-born kid began to attend school. Even with this pattern, many younger moms still preferred staying at home and caring for their children. Those who made the decision of taking jobs were usually not viewed negatively anymore. More than half of women in higher education often chose not to take a job after the birth of their first kid. However, it depended on whether their spouse had sufficient earnings (Yellin, 2010).

Because America needed females to enter the labor force in record numbers, employed mothers seemed to dedicate shorter time to their kids than ever before. Not only new jobs and longer shifts but also lining up for rationed goods made housekeeping more challenging and time-consuming. There were many psychological studies released towards the end of the war declaring that the absence of mothers and not dedicating all times to their kids led to harmful repercussions. At this point, the government decided to get involved. Demand for a structured daycare program became serious. The Congress reacted by incorporating Community Facilities Act of 1941, which was commonly known as the Lanham Act that emphasized on the creation of facilities for childcare. The government allocated funds to set up federal day-care facilities for women employed in the defense agencies. As little as 10% of security workers' kids were approved to these facilities (Weatherford, 2008). As a result, employed mothers suspected the institutionalized daycare and preferred to leave kids with their family members.

Drawing from some significant opinions, the end of the warfare led to a renewed turnover in the sexual division of labor. As reconversion from wartime to peacetime, economic system generated large layoffs and then new hiring, the problem of female's position became doubtful. Female war employees had initially planned to take jobs only for the emergency, but by the end of warfare, in a study of significant defense industry areas, three out of four female employees who had taken jobs for the first time desired to hold them. Further, many females experienced conflicting pressures once the war had been over. Quite a huge number of them could not decide whether to continue working for pay on one hand or go back to housewifery and take care of their family and households (Sheldon, 2008).

Just as government officials and industrialists had campaigned previously to attract females into war plantations, they campaigned to motivate them to quit their jobs when the warfare ended. The government insisted that wartime jobs were short-term. There are various proves indicating that many organizations and plantations took the lead in discharging females out of 'men's jobs.' As…

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