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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(23 March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 12, 23 March 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Gallup Poll has conducted a survey and discovered that one half of the housewives of the country are willing to take jobs in plants doing war work.

In taking this poll, however, the Gallup people did not acquaint the women canvassed with one very pertinent fact – which undoubtedly would have influenced the vote.

How do you think women would react to a question about their willingness to take jobs in war production if at the same time they were told that in November 1941 the hourly wages of women in manufacturing plants were THIRTY-FIVE PER CENT LOWER than those of men? This is the figure of the National Industrial Conference Board.

Women intelligent enough to understand the relation between profits and wages would certainly not see why they should “contribute to the national emergency” if their “contribution” goes into the bursting pockets of the bosses.

Gallons of ink and tons of paper are being wasted in agitating women to go into war industries. Women will be forced into factories by the gastronomic and other needs of themselves and their families in the bitter times ahead.

The important thing is that these working women should not be exploited because of their sex.

How about agitating Congress – always so full of proposals to curb labor – to pass a law making the bosses pay equal wages for equal work regardless of the sex of the worker!

But don’t suppose for one minute the boss press will do this. The only agitation for equalization of wages will come from the unions. Every working man out of his swaddling clothes understands that as more women enter industry at lower wages, the wage levels of all workers are increasingly threatened.

Workers’ standards won by blood and sweat can be preserved only by an intensified drive to organize all women workers – and the unions must make the equalization of wages a reality.

The war has forced upon Americans a new glory. The masterminds of racketeering in this country are being emulated abroad.

According to sundry reports, the Black Market of England is run on the same lines as the booze racket here during prohibition days. Several writers declare that Black Market operators have learned many valuable lessons in business organization from our own racketeers. The result of their efficiency is that today in England there are no shortages and there is no rationing for those who can pay Black Market prices – just as in prohibition days the wealthy could guzzle excellent liquor to their hearts’ content.

It is a foregone conclusion that, as shortages and rationing become more and more felt in this country – the home of the masterminds of racketeering – the boys will get on the job. The methods of prohibition days will become as modernized as a flying fortress – but much more noiseless. As a result no dollar-a-year man, nor his kith and kin, will want for anything. The war profiteer and the war racketeer will be united in wedlock by the law of supply and demand.

As in England, the family of the American worker – who creates the wealth the war profiteer will partly share with the war racketeer – will, of course, lack many things.

There is an old tradition in England that an officer is more or less helpless without a servant. This is not exactly democratic, but a British officer is still waited on hand and foot. He is brought his tea in the morning, his shoes are shined, his uniform is kept trim, his buttons polished – he is even guided into his jacket.

All this used to be done for the big stiff by a man-servant. With the shortage of manpower, however, instead of shifting for himself, as most people do, girls from the various services have been assigned as “maids” to his royal highness, the officer.

Came a day when a big stink about this arrangement was let loose in the House of Commons. As reported by William D. Bayles in the Saturday Evening Post, a violent debate raged back and forth, in the course of which charges were made of universal immorality in the services, of the spread of disease, and of the constant increase of pregnancies. Many members became very indignant and shouted their denials of the charges.

Nevertheless matter-of-fact arrangements for the care arid confinement of girls who become pregnant in the services have been secretly made. A girl is granted leave from her contingent, and all details are easily and efficiently attended to. All, of course, on the quiet.

In Nazi Germany, a similar situation was jubilantly welcomed as a solution to the population problem. Every girl was urged, as a patriotic duty, to have a baby by a soldier – but preferably by an officer.

However, neither the secrecy of the British nor the blatancy of the Germans can hide a nasty fact. In every country alike, this useless imperialist war has broken down norms that civilization has found necessary and desirable.

There is already plenty of evidence to the same effect in our own country.

Have you noticed how the volunteer salesmen of Defense Savings Stamps combine business with pay-triotic duty?

The following advertisement is typical: “FANNIE HURST, Author of Lonely Parade, will sell Defense Savings Stamps from 4 to 5 p.m. this afternoon at BONWIT TELLER, Fifth Avenue, New York.”

What do you think happened to the sales of Lonely Parade in the book department of Bonwit Teller that afternoon?

Both Miss Hurst and the department store unquestionably found it pays to advertise – Defense Savings Stamps!

So also Miss Glamora, lovely star of A Kiss for Liberty, that amazing new film you just must not miss, will sell Defense Savings Stamps to you – but hold onto the price of admission to the movie.

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