Ryan A. sent in this image of a letter (found at Letters of Note) sent to the Postmaster General in 1934, in which men ask for women to be fired so that men can have jobs:

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Notice that work is depicted as an oppressive burden for women (“…in place of making slaves of them let them be ladies”). Men, on the other hand, are entitled to take employment from women if they are in need of it to avoid being “bums” (and apparently it’s ok to make slaves of them).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I actually have sympathy for the psychological distress these and other men must have felt at the time. When manhood is highly associated with the ability to support a family on your income alone, job loss and poverty is not just embarrassing, it is a threat to your very identity as a man. The plea for jobs to help young men “make a name for themselves” is partly a call to let them become responsible adult men in good social standing, rather than bums (a term loaded with moral judgment).

So I have sympathy for the men struggling with the feeling of failure that came with joblessness. But it’s still noteworthy that the letter indicates a sense of entitlement to women’s jobs (much like veterans returning from World War II felt toward women who had taken jobs outside the home). Women, presumably, had a husband to support them and it was his duty to not be a bum so that she wouldn’t need to take a job from another man.

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