In a large framed mirror behind him is a shadowy full-length reflection of the artist. She wears a long smock, holds her palette, and stands before a canvas bearing the image of her neighbor’s four-year-old son, Malcolm Stone, whose portrait she was painting at the time. This child’s reflected image, aligned along a vertical axis directly above the likeness of Page and similarly posed, suggests a generational relationship. In the chapters on the four artists, I place the Fourteenth Street works in each artist’s oeuvre of the twenties and thirties.
How are representations of new womanhood beginning in the 1890s pertinent to the Fourteenth Street images of women by four artists in the 1920s and 1930s? Historical and methodological considerations justify a broad introduction to the discourse of new womanhood. First, even though historians chart a perceptible shift to a post-franchise model of new womanhood more overtly “feminine” and individualized, ideological connections with earlier models remain. Because representational conventions and typologies of womanhood keep both the continuities and the changes in play in the Fourteenth Street works, it is important to chart them.
Despite the absence of an official support system for professional women that Nochlin identified, Neel consistently found the means to carefully protect her time to paint in the face of all the obligations entailed as a mother in charge of a household. This was especially true by her later years, when she had Carmen to help with the labor of keeping the apartment and devoted daughter-in-law in Nancy to act as her assistant. Indeed, Hoban reports that John Cheim, the director of the Robert Miller Gallery, observed that Neel treated her daughter-in-law Nancy as “you might expect a bossy husband to treat a wife that you’ve had for a long time. Mary’s adventures, like those of the dime novel heroine, revolve around her status as a woman worker. The constructed categories of honorable “worker” and honorable “woman” both largely excluded working women. Dime novel and serial narratives centered on the contradictions at the juncture of those exclusions. For example, What Happened to Mary raises the question of whether Mary can succeed in her work-place despite being female.
Kenneth Hayes Miller
Factories brought new forms of work discipline in which overseers replaced parents as supervisors of production, machines concentrated in large numbers determined the pace of work, production was split into many small stages, and work was not easily combined with domestic or agricultural tasks. All of these changes made it difficult for adult women to combine factory work with their family responsibilities, so that factory work was the province of men, younger unmarried women, and children. Existing wage scales and notions of the value of women’s work as compared to men’s meant that young women were often the first to be hired as factories opened, particularly in cloth production, because they could be hired more cheaply.
- Both the Art Students League and the Whitney Studio Club validated figurative realism in its various manifestations, patronized and publicized the Fourteenth Street School artists, and helped to launch their careers.
- Salespeople, as one store manager reported, “frequently speak and act in ways which do not commend them to people of refinement.” By the teens and 1920s, store executives decided that a cordial and well-informed sales staff might improve profits.
- The situation is worse in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, where the Kurds are a minority people subjected to ethnically targeted violations of human rights.
- By the end of 1930, 70 percent of the African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, and 75 percent of those in Memphis, Tennessee, were jobless.
- Let’s have a more nuanced conversation about how librarians position ourselves as collaborators in the digital humanities and accede that some of us might need to embrace the label of service—or, perhaps, might not be able to escape it.
So thoroughly did this traditional position permeate American culture that Charlotte Perkins Gilman, once the spokeswoman for women’s individuality and equality with men, modified her views. Appalled, like many suffragists of her generation, by the hedonistic excesses of the flapper, she wrote in 1923, “Wifehood and motherhood are the normal status of women, and whatever is right in women’s new position must not militate against these essentials.” For all the presence of a revised new womanhood, there were places within the radical artistic community frequented by the Soyers from which women were largely excluded and where feminism played a diminished role. Although Rebecca Soyer urged Raphael to join the John Reed Club and was herself an active member, the club at times made women feel unwelcome. One of the first times he attended a meeting, Soyer invited the model he had been working with to join him.
In the same year, the Sheppard-Towner Act allotted the first federal money for health care. Also called the Maternity and Infancy Act, it provided federal matching funds to states to improve prenatal care and infant health. (The program lapsed in 1929.) The Cable Act of 1922 gave married women independent citizenship; no longer would women who married foreigners lose their United States citizenship. And the Women’s Bureau of the federal government, created during the war to look after the interests of women workers, became a permanent part of the Department of Labor in 1920. In April 1919, the women of the New England Union of Telephone Operators went on strike. Postmaster General Albert Burleson, who still retained his temporary wartime control over the telephone industry, refused to negotiate.
Before 1905, motion picture producers supplied a variety of narratives to the new theaters, including “actuality” films, comedies or jokes rooted in vaudeville traditions, lantern-slide shows, and comic strips. Directors shot these early narratives in presentational style; that is, the camera viewed the action as though it were on a stage, mimicking the live theater experience. In response to this problem, producers layered an increased number of camera shots to create depth and point of view, effectively bringing the spectator’s view into the frame of action. Spectators now viewed scenes as invisible participants rather than as a removed audience. Closer shots accentuated this sense of intimacy, as spectators could see subtle shifts in emotion in actors’ faces and postures.
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In Street Orator Laning applies the contemporary classical realism of his more generalized Fourteenth Street (Fig. 2.3) to a political protest (1931; Fig. 3.33). In this work a soapbox orator stands amid a cash flow relaxed crowd that includes matronly shoppers, businessmen, and workers. A policeman, at the right, converses in friendly fashion with one of the spectators, using his nightstick only to make his points.
Women without toilets or sinks, without running water in their homes, who nevertheless preserved fifteen hundred quarts of food a year, were advised to try wearing powder and rouge to please their husbands. During the depression, women increased the size of their gardens and the number of their hens. They cut up the sacks that held large amounts of flour and sewed them into underwear. In the previous decade, they had proudly begun to participate in a culture of store-bought goods. Government agents dragged huge canning kettles across the mountains of northern New Mexico and eastern Tennessee so that women in remote farming villages could preserve their food.
While there is pleasure in observing the dynamic crowds, compositionally the figures are uncomfortably close. The brushwork and chiaroscuro make a lively surface, but everything in the crowd seems agitated and confusing. Through its iconographic and stylistic mechanisms Marsh’s painting simultaneously calls into question advertising’s view of its audience and makes a position for the viewer concerned about the working-class consumer in a capitalist society. That Orozco’s image of urban women is far more oppressive and pessimistic than Miller’s not only reaffirms the uncritical nature of Miller’s art, but suggests that his matron QuickBooks is a reassuring image in troubled times. For those who argued in the early 1930s that economic recovery would occur only with continued buying, a woman consuming effectively was performing a patriotic duty. On Fourteenth Street, beginning in January 1933, Hearn’s department store regularly advertised that a percentage of its daily receipts would be contributed to various agencies to help the poor. Through this program, staffed by volunteers, supported by celebrities who made guest appearances, and praised by Mrs. Roosevelt, Hearn’s contributed to the Red Cross and the Emergency Unemployment Relief committee, to name only two.
Both craft and journeymen’s guilds supported prohibitions on female labor, as maintaining an all-male shop became a matter of honor and status as well as a way to limit competition for jobs. Women were also excluded from certain occupations because they were barred from attending universities or professional academies. Occupations seeking to improve recording transactions their status regularly banned women as a mark of growing professionalism. The decline of women in the crafts was a major development on the eve of industrialization. Individual wages did not mean equal wages; women’s wages for agricultural or manufacturing tasks were generally about one-half to two-thirds those of men for the same or similar tasks.
Extreme though it may have been, Grant’s thinking reflected the growing anxiety in the conservative native-born circles to which Miller belonged that the massive influx of immigrants from eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries would bring about unwanted cultural and political change. This thinking also fueled the xenophobia underlying the Red scare and Palmer raids of the early 1920s and promoted the chauvinism behind the practices of debunking and cultural stereotyping throughout the decade.
In 1925, only 3.4 percent of all Puerto Rican women in New York, and about 15 percent of the women who worked outside the home held clerical positions. The new attitudes were reflected in the rulings of the courts, as they consistently overturned two decades of reform legislation aimed at regulating business, such as laws setting maximum hours or minimum wages for women. There was no federal minimum-wage or maximum-hour law; workers simply struck the best bargain they could with their employers. Often they worked twelve-hour days, six or seven days a week, and earned only enough to provide them with food and shelter. Most unions, however, organized only skilled workers, and even among those unions, few organized women workers.
The Suffragists Who Opposed Birth Control
Marsh’s pictures of crowds often combined references to ethnic appearance and practices with more characteristically American behavior, so that his crowd scenes reveal the ongoing existence of—and occasional antagonism between—Old and New World cultural traditions. Marsh reduced them to urban and ethnic stereotypes, a strategy of simplification often used in advertising to short-circuit the buyer’s reasoning process. In their coarseness, many are like caricatures who contrast strongly with the beautiful isolated Sirens. Plump dark-haired women shoppers can be identified as Lower East Side immigrants from eastern Europe or the Mediterranean.
Many colleges carefully controlled the number of Jewish students on campus, and only at Oberlin did black students constitute even 4 percent of the student body. Black women found black colleges more receptive; by 1929, women formed the majority at some coeducational black colleges. It was not only in the “girlishness” of telephone operators that they typified some aspects of the 1920s. Part of the appeal of telephone work undoubtedly lay in the well-appointed lounge. At the turn of the century, young working women had most often lived at home or as boarders with other families. Now, between school and marriage they lived in their own apartments, which they often shared with other young working women.
One national advice columnist claimed that the question she was asked most frequently was, “Should a woman work outside the home after marriage? By 1930, 40 percent of white and black working women were wives, one-third with children under age thirteen, but they still constituted only 11.7 percent of all wives. Though the percentage of married women teachers doubled, the majority of school boards refused to hire them. The dawn of the twentieth century witnessed changes in almost every aspect of the day-today lives of women, from the domestic sphere to the public. The women’s movement, with its emphasis on advocacy of equal rights, newly formed women’s organizations, and the rise of a new generation of female artists, photographers, and professionals, transformed the traditional patriarchal social structure across the globe. Followed closely by the advent of World War I, these social shifts, which had been set in motion at the beginning of the century, developed further as women were propelled into the workforce, exposing them to previously male-dominated professional and political situations.
Miller’s lady, with a graceful gesture, raises her arm and rearranges her hair with her elegant fingers; the elevated arm reveals the gentle curve made by her breast, waist, and hip. The ease and grace of her pose make her a welcoming figure—the hostess for the guests at her counter as well as an attractive female figure for the viewer—and suggest that her elegance and femininity will accrue to the women who purchase her gloves. Similarly, Soyer’s milliner arranges her wares in the otherwise bare setting to make them more attractive. With a vase of flowers instead of the mannequin, this young woman could just as easily be engaged in a traditional domestic task—arranging flowers before the arrival of guests. As workers, both women make things pleasant, comfortable, efficient, or attractive for the shopper.
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Hochschild was interested in the personal costs for workers who were paid to provide “service with a smile” and how those costs affected workers’ off-duty emotional lives. Emotion work and related terms have resurfaced with the post-manufacturing economy . In the digital sphere, service work is conducted by community facilitators, comment moderators, or social media managers who field the complaints, comments, and harassment that is endemic to online spaces.
In 1928 the new governor, Franklin Roosevelt, appointed Perkins Industrial Commissioner, a promotion. After he was elected President, Roosevelt agreed to nominate Perkins as secretary of labor, and Dewson launched a nationwide campaign in her support.
Women moved from clerical to managerial jobs and became slightly more likely than men to be union members. Both of these changes helped improve wage parity, Ms. Blau’s and Mr. Kahn’s research said. Over all, in fields where men are the majority, the median pay is $962 a week — 21 percent higher than in occupations with a majority of women, according to another new study, published Friday by Third Way, a research group that aims to advance centrist policy ideas. That sounds like a truism, but the academic work behind it helps explain the pay gap’s persistence even as the factors long thought to cause it have disappeared. Women, for example, are now better educated than men, have nearly as much work experience and are equally likely to pursue many high-paying careers.
The “new Woman” Revised
Mead was not alone in her rebellion against the 1920s formula of man-centered woman. When New York lawyer Crystal Eastman and her husband had to move out of their apartment because the building was to be torn down, they moved into two places instead of one. But according to an article she wrote for Cosmopolitan in 1923, she had replied staunchly, “No I’m not. I’m jobs that have been feminized, such as teaching or secretarial work, are also referred to as trying to hold it together.” She took a small apartment for herself and her children, and her husband moved to a rooming house near his office. “Every morning,” she told her readers, “like lovers, we telephone to exchange the day’s greetings and make plans for the evenings…. It is wonderful sometimes to be alone in the night and just know that someone loves you.
Paul drew a distinction between racial and gender-based injustice that African-American women could not make in their daily lives. Women streamed into public office in the 1920s, the largest single increase in women’s officeholding to that date, leveling off only after 1930.