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Women and social change - To what extent did World War One effect womens labour market position.

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Introduction

Women and social change To what extent did World War One effect womens labour market position _________________________________________________ In the years leading up to the Boar war in the late 18 hundreds, women's role in society was clearly defined. The ideology of the time was that a woman's place was in the home, there was no better or more fulfilling way for a woman to spend her time than staying in the home to cook clean and raise children. Women were only educated as a means of enabling them to acquire skills that could use in the home and with there family, as this would higher there standard of living, Darwin, Sharpe (1976). Moreover, attitudes towards women's position within the labour market were defined by such beliefs. Putting the beliefs of the time into context shows that they were interlined with class and the idea of the British race. The "ideology of domesticity" prominent in the 18hundres was as relevant to the middle class women as it was to working class women, Purvis (1987). However as June purvis has said "what was considered appropriate, relevant and unattainable for the middle classes was inappropriate, irrelevant and unobtainable for working class women, Purvis (1987). As it was, not working was economically obtainable for women in the middle classes and seen as appropriate and relevant to a woman's social standing. However, physically exhausting jobs in poor working conditions for low pay returning to over crowded houses with little heat and no sanitation was the bleak prospect for the majority of the population. Awareness and concern grew about health among the middle classes and government alike who saw poor people as unhealthy. It was believed that keeping women at home would improve health. Women who stayed at home would be healthier as a result of not working women could have healthier babies and could cook and clean and be attentive to child rearing duties. ...read more.

Middle

"Despite the general expectation that women would return to their home after the war, female laborers did not simply drop their wrenches and pick up frying pans" (310). After the war many women continued to work outside the home primarily to help support their families. After the war 28% of the labor force was female compared to the 24% prior to the war. When the war was over nearly one million women were laid off and another 2.25 million voluntarily left. These female losses in the work force were offset by the gain of 2.75 million women into the work force. "When women who had been laid off managed to return to work, they often lost their seniority and had to accept reduced pay in lower job categories" (310). Due to the severe segregation by gender, the postwar economic life for women was appalling. Postwar American life became organized around marriage and family. As men came back from the war they merged with the peacetime economy, taking jobs away from women and sending them back to the home. With the demise of Mary and Rosie came new role models whose ideas and beliefs were focused around the home and not the workplace. This was due to the fact that during the war many writers were female and supported involvement in the labor force and after the war many of these women's jobs were taken by men with the desire of a "cozy domestic life" (312). "Almost overnight, television became the preeminent mass medium, carrying imaging--feminine or otherwise-of American culture into the home" (313). Television shows displayed the personification of what a husband thought a wife should be. An example of this was the show "Ozzie and Harriet" which showed a warm-hearted, attractive, submissive woman who was only competent within the confines of her own home. Children who grew up seeing this behavior in their own home as well as on television tended to use that lifestyle as a model. ...read more.

Conclusion

All these feelings were given an additional jolt of violence and anger by the horrors of the wartime experience. During the war there was a loss of illusions as described in All Quiet on the Western Front. Poets, like others, had gone to war in 1914 believing in heroism and nobility. Trench warfare hardened and embittered many. Freud said of disillusionment: When I speak of disillusionment, everyone will know at once what i mean. One need not be a sentimentalist; one may perceive the biological and psychological necessity for surrering in the economy of human life, and yet condemn war both in its means and ends and long for the cessation of all wars. British poet, Wilfred Own, who was killed in 1918 was transformed from a young romantic into a powerful denouncer of those who had sent young men off to war. In "Dulce et Decorum Est" he mocked "the old lie" that it was good to die for one's country, after giving a searing description of a gassed soldier coughing out his lungs. The anger of the soldier-poets was directed against those who had sent them to the war, not their enemy. The war experience did not produce new art forms or styles. It acted largely to make the harshest themes and the grimmest or most mocking forms of expression of prewar intellectual life seem more appropriate, and to fost experiments in opposition to the dominant values of contemporary europe. The Dada movement, which mocked old values and ridiculed stuffy bourgeois culture, was one of these movements. A mood of desolation and emptiness prevailed at the end of a war where great sacrifice had brought little gain. It was not clear where post-war anger would be focused, but it would definately be in antibourgeois politics. The echoes of a world shattering were heard throughout the world as Europe collapsed into total war. These echoes were the sound of change as Europe was transformed socially, politicaly, economically, and intellectualy into a machine of complete destruction. Europe would never be the same again. ...read more.

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