Social Security Act of 1935

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Those busy in reforming the law made it clear that they were more interested in safeguarding what was, then, the classic American way of life, than safeguarding the rights of all. The reforms that were proposed sought to take contributions from all working people, yet it did not give back the money as Social Security to all who had contributed. Families of men, and then to those belonging to certain occupations, were entitled to the money in case of the death of the man. However, what is interesting is that widows who remarried or who did not have young children and had not reached the age of 65 yet were excluded. Moreover, the social security of a widow “was to be reduced or eliminated if her earnings exceeded fifteen dollars a month” (Kessler-Harris 2010, 439).
In order to win over the racists who were still present in Congress, the reformers also kept in hidden clauses that ensured that colored workers will not be entitled to the Social Security money. Fields of employment which were predominantly black, like agricultural workers, were excluded from the entitlement list. The reformers excluded household workers from the list of the entitled class of workers, and with 90% of the household working force being female and 45% of it being black (Kessler-Harris 2010), they not only excluded women but caused the black women a double jeopardy of sorts, as most of the men in their family were already excluded based on the racist reforms.
Of course, this clearly suggests that they thought a woman was to be subservient to a man and it was the duty of the man to provide and for a woman to take care of the home. Therefore, a widow who remarried or who had old children had someone else to look after her and so was not considered entitled. Moreover, racism was very much prevalent and that is why the reformers considered whites to be more entitled to the funds, as they thought blacks did not do enough work to be entitled or that they did not deserve it.
In the 1970s, with the advent of the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement, public opinion about matters of race and gender began to change, and that is why a law that was perfectly acceptable in the 1930s came under attack just forty years later.