It is true that most people will when I talk of our claim on the ground of human rights, blink like owls in the daylight; but they understand me at once, when I speak of my right to look after the dollars which I have paid as a tax. In short, they understand the worth of my dollars, and my right to look after them, but do not understand what above all I hold of worth – my personal self and my right to represent it.
Although women's history scholars have mentioned tax protests and refusals to pay in the woman suffrage movement, relatively little analysis has been devoted to these issues. Key to understanding both the dollars and the selves taxation arguments is an appreciation of the centrality of metaphor.
By trying to use familiar historical narratives of the Revolutionary era [e.g., no taxation without representation] as vehicles to explain or reveal something of women's tax protests and resistance in the 1870s, woman suffragists used a metaphor that was generative of later policy decisions and adverse consequences for the women's movement. The selves arguments were bottomed on metaphoric employment of taxation outside its familiar context of governmental exactions. In writings from the 1870s, taxation was critical to an understanding of gender within society. The selves taxation arguments used by woman suffragists in the 1870s were an attempt both to set forth a meaning for “taxation,” an important symbol in American political life, and to use “taxation” to “limit and contain the metaphoric possibilities” of other cultural constructs.
PERCEPTIONS OF WOMEN'S ROLES DURING THE 1940s
In the 1940s, there was considerable conflict and concern about the role of women in society. During the previous decade, the Depression combined with traditional views of gender roles to create a variety of disincentives or barriers to the employment of women. While the phenomenon of working single women seemed to be accepted, Americans were not convinced that women could or should combine careers with marriage and family.
America's involvement in World War II created tension between perceptions of traditional roles for women and ideas about their contributions to society. The wartime diversion of 12,000,000 men into the military service converged with a period of high industrial production and with business and government requirements to create an unprecedented demand for labor. Women constituted the largest reserve of potential workers. As a result, America's participation in World War II caused a dramatic increase in the employment of women outside the home. One of the most notable trends was the increase in the employment of married women. By the war's end, 23% of married women were employed. Women perceived as making a real contribution to the war effort were usually doing what had traditionally been men's work in factories and on farms. These new factory and farmworkers were celebrated as patriotic citizens, but they were not insulated from tensions created by traditional visions of gender roles. This tension was manifested in efforts to characterize the new women's work as domestic work, in hostility to women workers, in wage disparities, and in the continuing message that the new work was “for the duration” only.
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