Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(26 January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 4, 26 January 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Lots of buncombe is being dished out regarding women in war industries.

We are, of course, assured that little strength is required to run big machines.

To convince us, many pictures are spread over the pages of the press. Women are shown operating lathes – with a smile; or, begoggled and serious, concentrating on welding torches.

According to S.F. Porter of the New York Post, we are even supposed to believe that women are .better able to man the machines than men. He tells us that while women’s strength is about 57 percent that of men and their physical stamina only about 68 per cent – whatever that means – still we have more of what it takes to run machines.

“The modern industrial plant demands patience and willingness to accept monotony and,” writes Mr. Porter, “women often are better able to accept these conditions than men.”

There is no need to heap insult on injury by pretending that women are designed by nature for long hours of monotonous drudgery at machines.

Labor Action takes for granted that masses of women will be doing the work of men during the war. Labor Action is concerned with the problem OF WHAT THESE WOMEN ARE GOING TO GET OUT OF THEIR LONG HOURS OF SWEAT AND TOIL.

A survey made by the United States Women’s Bureau covering 465,000 women in twenty-two large manufacturing industries, shows that women’s earnings are less than men’s in every industry reporting.

The New York State Labor Department found that in SELECTED industries where the weekly wage paid to men in 1941 was the unusually high average $35, women averaged only $19.75.

These and other recent surveys make it clear that while men’s wages far from keep pace with the rising cost of living, the wages of women lag much further behind.

If women replace me in industry and do not get equal pay, the bosses will be tickled silly. It means that for certain fixed war contracts, their labor bill will be much smaller. It means that their war profits – already hair-raising – will be even greater.

End all wage disparities! They benefit only the bosses.

Equal pay for equal work! This is in the interest of men and women workers alike.

And wage scales to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

At least this much women should get out of their labor. Never mind the buncombe!

The New York Dress Institute spends many thousands of dollars for full-page “ads” in the important papers of the metropolis, just to tell women to be lovely.

Yes, you must kiss your husband good-bye in the morning, send your children to school with a smile, be calm and steadfast, and give “your time and service to organized war work.”

But your main job is just to be lovely – so that “men may take courage from that loveliness.”

But wait a minute! Don’t think you can go about being lovely in your own sweet way! You must be “lovely in the clothes you wear” – or how will the high-priced dress manufacturers constituting the disinterested New York Dress Institute make profits commensurate with wartime profit standards!

In its full-age “ads” this boss outfit finds no room to tell the factory woman whose long working hours take all her time and energy, just when she will be lovely in lovely clothes which she can’t afford to buy anyway.

Neither is the working class housewife whose money is being cut in half between the pincers of rising prices and rising war taxes of every kind informed on what to use for money to buy the lovely clothes, in which to be lovely – and at the same time feed her family.

On Sunday, January 11, a pageant and revue was given in New York “as a tribute to Negroes serving with the armed forces,” as the newspapers put it.

The main speaker was – you, know who.

According to the press, Mrs. Roosevelt “expressed the hope that after this war minorities in this country will enjoy the same liberties that all other groups have.”

I wonder if there was an intelligent Negro in the hall or on the air listening to the democratic First Lady whose mind and heart did not shout:


I wonder if there was any Negro survivor of the last war listening to Mrs. Roosevelt’s speech who did not remember the unfulfilled promises for a better world made to his race DURING THAT WAR ALSO.

There is a saying – not originating with the Greeks – “He gives away ice in the winter.” That graphic linguistic tidbit must today be applied to the great Borden and Sheffield milk companies – the givers of phony gifts.

It was announced far and wide that Borden’s and Sheffield’s milk will be reduced three cents a quart in the stores. Maybe you thought that you would pay 11 cents for a container instead of 14 cents, or two quarts for 21 cents instead of two for 27 cents. But you went to the store the next day and paid the same unwarranted high price for your milk as before.

There was, however, a difference – in the name on the container. In the place of trade names, Interstate, Reid’s or Daily Sealed used on its own milk, was printed the mighty name of Borden’s. THE MILK IS THE SAME – THE PRICE IS THE SAME.

The price of milk – which has gone up 14 per cent since the war began – has to come down. But it will not be by the voluntary action of the food profiteers!

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 8 September 2014