The Invisible Women of the Great Depression

During the Great Depression, women made up 25% of the work force, but their jobs were more unstable, temporary or seasonal then men, and the unemployment rate was much greater. There was also a decided bias and cultural view that “women didn’t work” and in fact many who were employed full time often called themselves “homemakers.” Neither men in the workforce, the unions, nor any branch of government were ready to accept the reality of working women, and this bias caused females intense hardship during the Great Depression.

The 1930’s was particularly hard on single, divorced or widowed women, but it was harder still on women who weren’t White. Women of color had to overcome both sexual and racial stereotyping. Black women in the North suffered an astounding 42.9% unemployment, while 23.2%. of White women were without work according to the 1937 census. In the South, both Black and White women were equally unemployed at 26%. In contrast, the unemployment rate for Black and White men in the North (38.9%/18.1%) and South (18%/16% respectively) were also lower than female counterparts.

The financial situation in Harlem was bleak even before the Great Depression. But afterward, the emerging Black working class in the North was decimated by wholesale layoffs of Black industrial workers. To be Black and a woman alone, made keeping a job or finding another one nearly impossible. The racial work hierarchy replaced Black women in waitressing or domestic work, with White women, now desperate for work, and willing to take steep wage cuts.

Survival Entrepreneurs

At the start of the Depression, while one study found that homeless women were most likely factory and service workers, domestics, garment workers, waitresses and beauticians; another suggested that the beauty industry was a major source of income for Black women. These women, later known as “survivalist entrepreneurs,” became self-employed in response to a desperate need to find an independent means of livelihood.”

Replaced by White women in more traditional domestic work as cooks, maids, nurses, and laundresses, even skilled and educated Black women were so hopeless, ”that they actually offered their services at the so-called ‘slave markets’-street corners where Negro women congregated to await White housewives who came daily to take their pick and bid wages down” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:246). Moreover, the home domestic service was very difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate with family responsibilities, as the domestic servant was usually on call ”around the clock” and was subject to the ”arbitrary power of individual employers.”



Inn Keepers and Hairdressers


Two occupations were sought out by Black women, in order to address both the need for income (or barter items) and their domestic responsibilities in northern cities during the Great Depression: (1) boarding house and lodging house keeping; and (2) hairdressing and beauty culture.

During the “Great Migration” of 1915-1930, thousands of Blacks from the South, mostly young, single men, streamed into Northern cities, looking for places to stay temporarily while they searched for housing and jobs. Housing these migrants created opportunities for Black working-class women,-now unemployed-to pay their rent.

According to one estimate, ”at least one-third” of Black families in the urban North had lodgers or boarders during the Great Migration (Thomas, 1992:93, citing Henri, 1976). The need was so great, multiple boarders were housed, leading one survey of northern Black families to report that ”seventy-five percent of the Negro homes have so many lodgers that they are really hotels.”

Women were usually at the center of these webs of family and community networks within the Black community:

“They ”undertook the greatest part of the burden” of helping the newcomers find interim housing. Women played ”connective and leadership roles” in northern Black communities, not only because it was considered traditional “woman’s work,” but also because taking in boarders and lodgers helped Black women combine housework with an informal, income-producing activity (Grossman, 1989:133). In addition, boarding and lodging house keeping was often combined with other types of self-employment. Some of the Black women who kept boarders and lodgers also earned money by making artificial flowers and lamp shades at home.” (Boyd, 2000)

In addition from 1890 to 1940, ”barbers and hairdressers” were the largest segments of the Black business population, together comprising about one third of this population in 1940 (Boyd, 2000 citing Oak, 1949:48).

“Blacks tended to gravitate into these occupations because “White barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians were unwilling or unable to style the hair of Blacks or to provide the hair preparations and cosmetics used by them. Thus, Black barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians had a ”protected consumer market” based on Whites’ desires for social distance from Blacks and on the special demands of Black consumers. Accordingly, these Black entrepreneurs were sheltered from outside competitors and could monopolize the trades of beauty culture and hairdressing within their own communities.

Black women who were seeking jobs believed that one’s appearance was a crucial factor in finding employment. Black self-help organizations in northern cities, such as the Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women, stressed the importance of good grooming to the newly arrived Black women from the South, advising them to have neat hair and clean nails when searching for work. Above all, the women were told avoid wearing ”head rags” and ”dust caps” in public (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:247, 301; Grossman, 1989:150-151).

These warnings were particularly relevant to those who were looking for secretarial or white-collar jobs, for Black women needed straight hair and light skin to have any chance of obtaining such positions. Despite the hard times, beauty parlors and barber shops were the most numerous and viable Black-owned enterprises in Black communities (e.g., Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:450-451).

Black women entrepreneurs in the urban North also opened stores and restaurants, with modest savings ”as a means of securing a living” (Boyd, 2000 citing Frazier, 1949:405). Called ”depression businesses,” these marginal enterprises were often classified as proprietorships, even though they tended to operate out of ”houses, basements, and old buildings” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:454).

“Food stores and eating and drinking places were the most common of these businesses, because, if they failed, their owners could still live off their stocks.”

“Protestant Whites Only”

These businesses were a necessity for Black women, as the preference for hiring Whites climbed steeply during the Depression. In the Philadelphia Public Employment Office in 1932 & 1933, 68% of job orders for women specified “Whites Only.” In New York City, Black women were forced to go to separate unemployment offices in Harlem to seek work. Black churches and church-related institutions, a traditional source of help to the Black community, were overwhelmed by the demand, during the 1930’s. Municipal shelters, required to “accept everyone,” still reported that Catholics and African American women were “particularly hard to place.”

No one knows the numbers of Black women left homeless in the early thirty’s, but it was no doubt substantial, and invisible to the mostly white investigators. Instead, the media chose to focus on, and publicize the plight of White, homeless, middle-class “white collar” workers, as, by 1931 and 1932, unemployment spread to this middle-class. White-collar and college-educated women, usually accustomed “to regular employment and stable domicile,” became the “New Poor.” We don’t know the homeless rates for these women, beyond an educated guess, but of all the homeless in urban centers, 10% were suggested to be women. We do know, however, that the demand for “female beds” in shelters climbed from a bit over 3,000 in 1920 to 56,808 by 1932 in one city and in another, from 1929 -1930, demand rose 270%.

“Having an Address is a Luxury Now…”

Even these beds, however, were the last stop on the path towards homelessness and were designed for “habitually destitute” women, and avoided at all cost by those who were homeless for the first time. Some number ended up in shelters, but even more were not registered with any agency. Resources were few. Emergency home relief was restricted to families with dependent children until 1934. “Having an address is a luxury just now” an unemployed college woman told a social worker in 1932.

These newly destitute urban women were the shocked and dazed who drifted from one unemployment office to the next, resting in Grand Central or Pennsylvania station, and who rode the subway all night (the “five cent room”), or slept in the park, and who ate in penny kitchens. Slow to seek assistance, and fearful and ashamed to ask for charity, these women were often on the verge of starvation before they sought help. They were, according to one report, often the “saddest and most difficult to help.” These women “starved slowly in furnished rooms. They sold their furniture, their clothes, and then their bodies.”

The Emancipated Woman and Gender Myths

If cultural myths were that women “didn’t work,” then those that did were invisible. Their political voice was mute. Gender role demanded that women remain “someone’s poor relation,” who returned back to the rural homestead during times of trouble, to help out around the home, and were given shelter. These idyllic nurturing, pre-industrial mythical family homes were large enough to accommodate everyone. The new reality was much bleaker. Urban apartments, no bigger than two or three rooms, required “maiden aunts” or “single cousins” to “shift for themselves.” What remained of the family was often a strained, overburdened, over-crowded household that often contained severe domestic troubles of its own.

In addition, few, other than African Americans, were with the rural roots to return to. And this assumed that a woman once emancipated and tasting past success would remain “malleable.” The female role was an out-of-date myth, but was nonetheless a potent one. The “new woman” of the roaring twenties was now left without a social face during the Great Depression. Without a home–the quintessential element of womanhood–she was, paradoxically, ignored and invisible.

“…Neighborliness has been Stretched Beyond Human Endurance.”

In reality, more than half of these employed women had never married, while others were divorced, deserted, separated or claimed to be widowed. We don’t know how many were lesbian women. Some had dependent parents and siblings who relied on them for support. Fewer had children who were living with extended family. Women’s wages were historically low for most female professions, and allowed little capacity for substantial “emergency” savings, but most of these women were financially independent. In Milwaukee, for example, 60% of those seeking help had been self-supporting in 1929. In New York, this figure was 85%. Their available work was often the most volatile and at risk. Some had been unemployed for months, while others for a year or more. With savings and insurance gone, they had tapped out their informal social networks. One social worker, in late 1931, testified to a Senate committee that “neighborliness has been stretched not only beyond its capacity but beyond human endurance.”

Older women were often discriminated against because of their age, and their long history of living outside of traditional family systems. When work was available, it often specified, as did one job in Philadelphia, a demand for “white stenographers and clerks, under (age) 25.”

The Invisible Woman

The Great Depression’s effect on women, then, as it is now, was invisible to the eye. The tangible evidence of breadlines, Hoovervilles, and men selling apples on street corners, did not contain images of urban women. Unemployment, hunger and homelessness was considered a “man’s problem” and the distress and despair was measured in that way. In photographic images, and news reports, destitute urban women were overlooked or not apparent. It was considered unseemly to be a homeless woman, and they were often hidden from public view, ushered in through back door entrances, and fed in private.

Partly, the problem lay in expectations. While homelessness in men had swelled periodically during periods of economic crisis, since the depression of the 1890’s onward, large numbers of homeless women “on their own” were a new phenomenon. Public officials were unprepared: Without children, they were, early on, excluded from emergency shelters. One building with a capacity of 155 beds and six cribs, lodged over 56,000 “beds” during the third year of the depression. Still, these figures do not take account the number of women turned away, because they weren’t White or Protestant.

As the Great Depression wore on, wanting only a way to make money, these women were excluded from “New Deal” work programs set up to help the unemployed. Men were seen as “breadwinners,” holding greater claim to economic resources. While outreach and charitable agencies finally did emerge, they were often inadequate to meet the demand.

Whereas black women had particular hard times participating in the mainstream economy during the Great Depression, they did have some opportunity to find alternative employment within their own communities, because of unique migration patterns that had occurred during that period. White women, in contrast, had a keyhole opportunity, if they were young and of considerable skills, although their skin color alone offered them greater access to whatever traditional employment was still available.

The rejection of traditional female roles, and the desire for emancipation, however, put these women at profound risk once the economy collapsed. In any case, single women, with both black and white skin, fared worse and were invisible sufferers.

As we enter the Second Great Depression, who will be the new “invisible homeless” and will women, as a group, fare better this time?



References:

Abelson, E. (2003, Spring2003). Women Who Have No Men to Work for Them: Gender and Homelessness in the Great Depression, 1930-1934. Feminist Studies, 29(1), 104. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Boyd, R. (2000, December). Race, Labor Market Disadvantage, and Survivalist Entrepreneurship: Black Women in the Urban North During the Great Depression. Sociological Forum, 15(4), 647-670. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

How To Be Mindful

The majority of us do not practice being mindful yet it is the secret of many successful and famous people. As we mature from children (a time when mindfulness is our natural state) to adulthood we are programmed by family, school and peers. Our subconscious mind is not our own. In adulthood we are fed a constant feed of fear and negativity via our ever present news media making us stressful and anxious that stems from the subconscious.

When you become mindful you realise that these external stresses do not matter. It is just white noise that you need to retrain yourself to hear on a conscious level and immediately let go before it sets in your subconscious.

To be mindful is to be at peace. This can be achieved simply and with practice over time. Outlined here are some steps to assist you.

Step away from the activities that can be associated with worry either past or future. These reminders do not serve you well but manifest to debilitate and destroy. They manifest into imaginations that may not ever happen.

Meditate. Meditation has become one of the most amazing and simple ways to become mindful. You can take 5 minutes or an hour. You choose the amount of time you want to meditate. Start with 5 minutes and build up.

Using mind tools you can really speed things up. Meditation creates a peaceful mindful state that can last long periods of time. The more you meditate the longer the periods of mindfulness last as your re-train your subconscious mind. Meditation has been scientifically proven to assist people who suffer from depression. It is safe and non invasive.

If you feel anxious you can relieve this fast and become mindful in a snap. It does take a little practice but it is worth the results. Just close your eyes and take in a slow deep breath and then let it out. The increased intact of oxygen has been proven to relax and refocus the mind. Do this as much as you can. You don’t really need to close your eyes but I find it really speeds things up. However, if you are in a situation where closing your eyes is not safe or possible just take the slow deep breaths and feel the euphoria. You should find it difficult to recreate the anxiety you had a few minutes ago.

If this article has raised concerns about you or a loved ones anxiety levels or depression please contact your health service in your state or country.

Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction – The Essential Facts

When erectile dysfunction occurs, the causes can be either psychological, or physiological, or both. Either way, the effects of this disease can be devastating on sufferers (and their partners). Where the cause is psychological, the good news is that there are no underlying health concerns to worry about. And there are a number of treatment options available.

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Low self esteem – lack of self-confidence can contribute to erectile dysfunction
  • Anxiety – worrying about sexual performance is a major factor in psychological erectile dysfunction. Once a man has experienced ED, the fear of continued failure causes further anxiety, and can further exacerbate the condition
  • Depression – this is a common cause of ED, and while some medications can be helpful for depression, certain anti-depressants are known to cause ED
  • Relationship issues – being in a tense, non-supportive relationship, or in a relationship with unresolved conflicts, can cause ED
  • Financial or work related stress
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Reaction to physiological ED – where erectile dysfunction has physical or physiological causes, this in itself can cause performance anxiety, and can therefore contribute to physiological ED.

Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction from Psychological Causes

Counseling: Depending on the specific causes, there are a number of different types of qualified counselors or therapists available (ie psychologists, psychiatrists, relationship counselors, and specialized sex therapists). All of these specialists have a variety of techniques for dealing with, managing and overcoming psychological problems.

Stress Management: Besides counseling, any other activity that acts to reduce stress can be useful in overcoming psychological ED. Exercise is one of the best ways of alleviating stress. Besides the physical benefits, exercise also results in the release of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are the body’s “feel good” chemical, and they are responsible for feelings of wellbeing, the release of sex hormones, for increasing our pain threshold, and for reducing the negative effects of stress.

Physiological causes of erectile dysfunction relate to the physical conditions that prevent blood from flowing to the penis. For an erection to occur, strong blood flow to the penis is required. This results in the blood vessels in the penis becoming engorged, thus producing an erection. Anything that interferes with this process is a physiological cause, and these include:

  • Heart disease – the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher in men who have ED, as these men are more likely to have blocked arteries, or Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) – this can cause reduced blood flow to the penis and can affect a man’s ability to achieve an erection
  • Diabetes – men with diabetes are more likely to develop ED, if the diabetes is not controlled. Excessive blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage, which can affect circulation and blood flow to the penis
  • Low testosterone levels – sex drive and the ability to achieve an erection are both affected by the levels of testosterone in the body
  • Certain types of surgery – abdominal or pelvic surgery (specifically to the prostate, colon or bladder) may result in damage to the nerves and blood vessels involved in getting an erection.
  • Certain medications – some anti-depressant medications, and certain cardiovascular drugs used to treat high blood pressure, are known to cause erectile dysfunction.

Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction from Physiological Causes

Due to the risk of serious underlying health issues, it is always recommended to see a medical doctor for a thorough examination. Treatments that a doctor may prescribe for ED include:

Medication: Oral medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra can be used to achieve erections, and these are effective for most men. However they do come with unpleasant side effects, and they do not offer a long term solution to ED

Testosterone Replacement Therapy: If tests indicate low testosterone levels, then testosterone treatment can help with achieving erections

Non-medical treatments: Vacuum pump devices and rubber rings can be used to increase blood flow to the penis. These are not always effective, and need to be used in consultation with a doctor.

Penile injection therapy: This involves injecting one or more drugs into the side of the penis, and can cause the penis to become hard almost immediately. However long term use of injections can cause scarring, and another possible side-effect is that the medication may produce a painful, prolonged erection known as priapism.

Penile implants: These are devices that are surgically implanted into the penis, and are used by squeezing a specific part of the device. They are expensive, and should only be used as last resort, if other treatment options have failed.

Vascular surgery: This targets the veins and arteries that supply blood to the penis. It should only be used for men who have vascular damage due to trauma in the area, as it is a major surgical procedure.

Natural Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

The most common reasons for physiological ED are poor blood flow, bad circulation, and clogged arteries. This is usually the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and overuse of alcohol and tobacco, are all major contributors to heart disease. And heart disease increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. The good news is that the risk of ED can be significantly reversed, by adopting a healthy lifestyle, and making the following changes:

Improved nutrition: For healthy erections, your diet should contain lean protein, fibre, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and nuts and grains. You should avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol (specifically LDL, the bad cholesterol).

Plenty of exercise: Cardiovascular exercise will significantly improve circulation (and therefore increase blood flow to the penis), by helping to reduce cholesterol, and unclogging the arteries. Strength training (particularly in the large muscle groups) will increase levels of testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which are essential for achieving healthy erections.

Reduced intake of alcohol and tobacco: Both these substances have been shown to contribute to erectile dysfunction if consumed in large quantities, and should be avoided if possible.

Famous People with Bipolar

History is strewn with great people who were and are supposedly bipolar – from ancient time to the present.

Not only are there many creative and gifted individuals who were or are bipolar, many were major players in forming Western History as we know it.

You can focus your mind on such world conquerors as Alexander the Great and Napoleon who impacted world geography. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the evil and bipolar Hitler gained much power and left his stamp on the Jewish Experience, for eternity. He met his match with the great bipolar English Statesman, Winston Churchill.

Our western way of thinking is influenced particularly by three Greek Philosophers – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who ere and are rumored to be bipolar. So whether you are an idealist or realist, you are in great debt to bipolar men.

Aristotle was considered by many to be the Father of Science by many. We also owe a great deal in our thinking scientifically to the British thinker, Sir Isaac Newton, who was another genius bipolar.

If you are into drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture, probably you idealize a master of all 4 -the magnificent Michelangelo. In the 1800’s the Dutch impressionist, van Gogh not only created great paintings while bipolar, unfortunately ending his life in suicide, but so was his great French friend and fellow artist, Paul Gauguin. Pablo Picasso, who help invent Cubism, and Jackson Pollock, who invented

Abstract Expressionism, were two gifted 20th century bipolar artists. There were many others.

If you are into the beauty of word architecture, there are many gifted poets and writers. Whether you enjoy the poems of Keats, Shelly, Lord Byron, or Sylvia Plath, or such novels as Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; The Sun also Rises. By Ernest Hemingway; or The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald; you are reading the works of bipolar artists. If you prefer the writings of Virginia Woolf, you are again reading the works of a genius with bipolar. Some say that F. Scott Fitzgerald wife from Montgomery, Alabama was also just as gifted, and happened also to be bipolar.

World news is important to many people, and the business maverick, Ted Turner brought news into your home 24 hours a day. Why yes, he is bipolar? Who say bipolar disorder can keep you from becoming a billionaire?

Perhaps Movies are a past time of yours. You can watch the beautiful 20th century icon, Marilyn Monroe

In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, or Some Like it Hot. Another beautiful bipolar life cut short by suicide.

If you are a Robin Williams or Jim Carrey fan, you have numerous choices in what movies to watch.

These bipolar comic geniuses have portrayed many characters.

Now even the music icon and pop star, Britney Spears is rumored to be bipolar. Of course the list could go on and on, ad inifinitum. For, it’s a bipolar world, after all.

Social Wellness is Making the Elderly Lead a Healthy, Peaceful and Long Life

Social wellness is one of the eight dimensions of wellness, which also consist of physical, intellectual, emotional, environmental, professional, financial, as well as spiritual. All these dimensions are very important for our overall health as well as welfare; but still social wellness offers diverse benefits, particularly to elders.

Social wellness refers precisely to the relations we have and how we interact with others. It consists of building supportive, healthy as well as fostering relationships and connecting with those around you. It’s vital for people of all ages to stay active on a social basis, as it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining good relations, particularly as you age, will have a substantial impact on all the other dimensions of wellness. As a matter of fact, an elderly who is involved in social interactions might even be able to live longer.

Health Benefits of being Social in the society

· Lessening the possibility of infecting diseases. Socially active elderly have a lesser risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some kind of cancers.

· Lessening signs of depression. Isolation is one of the most important causes of depression in elderly; therefore those who maintain as well as continue to build new relationships are at a low risk of suffering with depression.

· Strengthening the immune system. The immune system is likely to be stronger in senior citizens who are active socially; many studies have shown that isolated seniors had high levels of proteins related to inflammation and poor immune system.

· Improving heart health. Lonely elders are likely to have higher BP, and several studies demonstrate that a lack of social links can result in a higher risk for heart disease.

· More life expectancy. In General, elderly who remain socially active are in good health and live longer than those who are lonely.

Today’s senior citizen homes make social wellness a top priority. The destitute elderly who come to live here are able to find various activities as well as events to keep them busy with others and their minds and bodies active. It’s important to be social to live a stress-free life, as we cannot deny the fact that when we listen to the sufferings of others or when we talk about our pain, we feel light, less stressed and more at peace.

Senior citizens’ homes are run through substantial contributions from individuals like you, as well as corporates. You can make donations and offer help for the elderly and make their life worthwhile.

You are also welcome to celebrate special occasions with the elders residing in these homes spreading happiness and love they so desire. This can be done by getting in touch with the care-taker of the old age home.