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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(31 March 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 13, 31 March 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In Britain girls of 20 and 21 have been conscripted for compulsory labor.

To properly mark the event, the capitalist press featured numerous pictures of British women at work.

Women were shown making Army boots, doing carpenters’ work, riveting ovens and boilers and making guns and other armaments. One picture was of two young women lugging tremendous crates that looked as if they would be something even for longshoremen to handle.

The news item described how typists would be taught to use their facile fingersi making machine tools – how barmaids fresh from serving ale and being chucked under the chin would work on bombs and battleships.

All these girls will be torn from their homes, their friends, their customary ways of life to do men’s work and thus release men for military service in this war between the international bosses.

Nowhere in the capitalist press is there a peep of protest against women being thus uprooted and compelled to work on jobs beyond the normal strength of most women.

But there, was a time when every boss paper in every country in the world, in every language on earth, screamed out its dishonest protest against. Women doing men’s work. That was in the early days of the Russian Revolution – before Stalin and his reactionary gang betrayed the masses.

The young workers’ and peasants’ government was fighting the capitalist interventionists on all fronts – among them those outstanding “democrats” who are today so loudly defending the self-determination of nations. Every able-bodied man was needed for military service. The Russian women willingly went to work on the railroads, in armament plants and wherever they were needed.

Then the voices of British and American capitalism united with the voice of German capitalism in a choral performance, the theme song of which was: “Bolshevism is destroying womanhood!”

You would think from what the capitalist supporters were saying then that women are sweet, fragile creatures to be clothed in frills and feathers and protected from the harsher circumstances of existence. But today women are supposed to be as tough as nails and must make every inhuman sacrifice the governments of all the warring countries demand.

The explanation for this contradiction is very simple.When the Russian women were setting an example to the working women of the world on how to vanquish the bosses and put all power into the hands of the working people, the capitalists naturally wanted to wrap women up in bolts of lace – to make them powerless.

Today when the bloody bosses, competing for world domination, are waging this war which is annihilating all civilized life, they just as naturally want women to be regarded as Amazons in overalls, capable of doing the dirtiest, heaviest, most harmful work FOR THEIR FILTHY WAR.

Have you noticed how Hollywood stars are shining at Washington social functions. Perhaps you recently saw, in the newsreel or in the photogravure section of some paper, pictures of Deanna Durbin dancing with William S. Knudsen at one of the President’s birthday parties. She was smiling prettily and he was, very naturally, tremendously pleased with his partner.

For the past several months of frantic preparation for the imperialist war, movie stars have been invited to this and that Washington affair where only the very “best” people were guests. Mrs. Roosevelt has been especially instrumental in bringing together the stars of the political and entertainment worlds.

This hobnobbing of Hollywood and Washington is of particular interest to working women who didn’t raise their boys to be soldiers and don’t want them to be killed in a bosses war. It gives a glimpse of how propaganda for war is manufactured.

Movie stars – like most people in America and every other country – may be far from enthusiastic about the country going to war, but —

Wasn’t the president scintillating at that delightful dinner! Wasn’t the great $l-a-year Mr. Knudsen clever, attentive and flattering! And Hul1 is quite charming when you get to know him.

So when the very “best” people say America needs a total war, why it is very easy for the ladies and gentlemen of the screen to oblige thirr dancing partners with a bit of “patriotic” service. Before they know it, they are part and parcel of the war propaganda machine.

Their particular job is to bamboozle the movie-going public – which is practically everybody.

The suckers who are fascinated by a pretty face are supposed to go right home, get those $2 put away under the mattress and buy government war stamps because one of the charmers of the screen says so.

And the poor mother whose heart is heavy because her son has been drafted into the machinery of war and death is supposed to feel elated about the whole thing when a handsome screen hero makes a super-colossal appeal to mothers to be “patriotic.”

Clever propaganda on the part of the warmakers! But —


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