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Women in the USA and New York City in 1930s

Women have been fighting for their rights almost from the beginning of the times. At the beginning of the 20s century, they finally achieved some results. The women of 1920s appeared and were treated as “new woman”. They had a right to vote, study in the university, work both in blue- and white-collar jobs, took place in politics and live by themselves in city apartments. A lot of those changes disappear with a new decade. The 1930s came to the USA with the Great Depression and ended by the start of the World War II. Started from the New York Stock Exchange crash on Black Thursday (October, 1929), America’s economy turned into chaos. It was very difficult time for all people, because as banks crashed, the level of unemployment raised, and almost all families struggled to survive.

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All those rights that were permited for female in 1920s were forgotten in 1930s. For instance, women voted, but their voices did not influence in making decisions. Almost all women returned under the influence of discrimination again. A good example of this is the relations toward women in the sphere of work. Before the 1930, women were working as secretaries, nurses, switchboard operators, social workers, teachers, and librarians. Moreover, they worked in journalism, laundries, factories, libraries and restaurants. Large numbers of black women worked in domestic service. At the beginning of the decade, women were freely working and substituting men as there were not enough sources, because a lot of men died on the war. When the Depression came, women were displaced from the business world by men, who become struggling for positions. As a result, the rate of unemployment and homelessness between female rapidly increased. A lot of organizations, committees, and agencies were created, especially in New York, to prevent or somehow help people during the Depression. It was decided that women who had children and husbands should quit the job in order to free the position for men. These females had to stay at home and take care of family doing domestic tasks, and they should not go further, but stay at home. According to Edward C. Rybicki, the director of Free Employment Agency, “women at work resulted in a weakening of the city’s home life” (Bell & Yans, 2010). Those women who were single could work to the moment when they get married, later they supposed to quit, because it was used to think that men should be breadwinners, and only they should maintain the family. Consequently, women accepted low wages, so that they could compete with men. Some time later, females claimed equal pay for equal work, but this was not met.

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The similar situation occurred in literature. Charlotte Nekola and Paula Rabinowitz point out that “1930s radicalism appears to be masculine preserve and is peopled with questioning, caring, socially committed women writers” (Nekola & Rabinowitz, 1987). Women’s writing seems to hold a secondary place. As Josephine Herbst later wrote that the writings of 1930s addressed the political instability of the working class that was in the struggle for the industrial unionism and against fascism (Nekola & Rabinowitz, 1987). Some writers wrote about the devastation of the Depression on the women lives and their families. Others decided include portraits of revolutions in Cuba, China, the Soviet Union and USA. At the same time, black women authors pay attention to the themes of sexual inequality, racial prejudice and class differentials with the black community and black writers.

New York fashion industry underwent a lot of changes during the Depression. It was very expensive to go to Paris for shopping, and American designers decided create their own fashion lines. The designers, such as Clare Potter, Tina Leser, and Claire McCardell created an active, modern woman who was wearing a sportswear. These clothes were appropriate for everybody: people could wear it in the city and rural areas, at home and work. Furthermore, it was not expensive, and almost everybody could afford to buy it.

The most famous women of the decade, who lived in modern New York City, were Frances Perkins who had served as Secretary of Labor of the Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration and was the first woman-member of U. S. Presidential Cabinet. Amelia Earhart was the first women who made a solo Atlantic flight. Katherine Dunham was choreograph who produced first full-length ballet called L'Ag'Ya. Zora Neale Hurston, an African American writer, who became popular by a novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God". Another famous woman is a photographer Berenice Abbott with her set of photographs called “Changing New York”.

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To conclude, it should be said that women have been trying to change their lives and positions in the society through many centuries. Sometimes, they manage to do it straight away, sometimes, it takes a lot of time and efforts, but they never give up. At the beginning of the previous century, female were struggling for the right to vote, get education, go into politics, and they achieved it. Moreover, during the 1930s, women managed to create a new fashion line in New York City, which is popular even nowadays. During that decade, first women appeared who become politicians, pilots, singers, photographers, choreographers, and others; whom we recollect now with a pride, because they started a creation of a modern world where we live.

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