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The rise of the “American” women

There are many things that were impacted after the World War I and World War II. For instance, there was the “great migration” that changed the lives of an estimate of a half of a million African-Americans, which were given the opportunity to migrate from the South to the North. They were given the opportunity to find new jobs in the south as well as the north; they could now purchase their own homes. They began to have more and more political power and they were also finding more cultural authority, resulting in the rise from slavery to American middle class, (Firsthand, 169).

But in this short paper, the issue is focused on the impact that these wars had on American women, not just the white American woman, but the black American woman as well. One example of how the woman was taking advantage of her rights can be found in the article, Memories of College Days, which is about a woman by the name of Zora Neale Hurston. Zora was from a poor, black family and wanted to attend Howard University to further her education. In order for her to attend Howard, she had to get a summer job as a waitress at a downtown club and then as a manicurist to pull together enough money to pay for her tuition.

She kept her job as a manicurist throughout the year and arranged to work from 3:30 to 8:30 every afternoon, and averaged anywhere from twelve dollars to fifteen dollars a week, (Firsthand, 181). Not only did she hold down a job, she managed to perform very well in her overload of courses. One main point mentioned here is that Zora was a woman working outside of the house to get her through schooling. Not only was Zora a woman who was working, but she was a woman who was getting an education. Considering the fact that it was not too many years before when it would have been unheard of to have a woman in an institute of higher learning.

And, keep in mind that Zora was an African-American who was seeking to extend her knowledge at a University. Another example of how a woman’s life was affected due to the war is about a woman by the name of Fanny Christina Hill. It is said that in 1940, some 11. 5 women were employed outside of the home. These women ranged from single African American, to wives from poor families, to widows. Most women would be working in domestic type jobs such as cleaning other people’s homes or working with laundry and things such as these.

But one of the affects of the Second World War was the lack of men in the work force. As a result, women were replacing these men. After Hill was married, she was told that if she could jet a job working in the war plants she would not have to work in the hotels and motels doing domestic things, (Firsthand, 224). She was first trained to shoot and buck rivets. She decided she did not like this job and was moved to simply drilling holes, which is where she stayed for a year before she moved to the department of plastics until the she had her baby just before the end of the war.

Her pay ranged from sixteen dollars a week to a little more than thirty dollars a week. When the war was over, the many were laid off, due to the fact that the men were coming back and the large amount of women in the workforce was not needed. Many women went back to the home and continued to maintain the job as a housewife, (Firsthand, 226-227). But for some women, such as Hill, they desired to keep their jobs in the males’ work force. Women were learning to stand on their own two feet and become more independent even if they were still married after World War II.

The third impact that should be mentioned can be taken from the article, My Fight for Birth Control, written by Margaret Sanger. Margaret Sanger was a very important contributor in the movement to legalize birth control. Sanger, and her partners Fania Mindell and Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in 1916. They believed that a woman who had acceptable and honest reasons to abort a baby should have the right to terminate her pregnancy. There were many women who had suffered a great deal and many more that had even died after receiving abortions illegally due to inexperienced doctors.

The issues here is not that women were seeking to legalize abortion, but these women were beginning to initiate a few small steps towards there independence in making their own decisions. Even in today’s society, the issue of abortion is greatly argued from various aspects. The fact that women almost a century ago were willing to deal with this issue shows a great deal of independence, which would be one more major step towards reaching equality. After reading all of the articles in America Firsthand, volume II, there were many impacts that could have been addressed in this short essay.

But, it is interesting to see how far women have come over the past century due to the large impact of the wars. World War I stirred up the woman’s curiosity and she began to build a strong desire for equality. Throughout the next few decades, women would gradually take advantage of each opportunity she could possibly have to become stronger. First there was the issue of birth control and the idea that women would be able to choose between keeping a child or terminating a pregnancy for certain reasons.

There was also the increase of opportunity of the African-American woman to receive a higher education in a university or college. There was also the large amount of women who began to enter the working world outside of the home. As a result of World War II, they realized that there did not have to be such a gap in equality due to the fact that they were taking on the same jobs as their husbands. These are just a few impacts that two World Wars had on the new “American” woman in America.

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