Boy you straight married guys had it made in the 50's

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. earllogjam

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  2. nudeyorker

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  3. jason_els

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  4. earllogjam

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    And I think the downturn of the economy in the 70's put a nail in that coffin when most women had to work and no longer had the luxury of being stay at home housewives anymore.

    I wonder nonetheless if men and women actually lived this kind of life in the 50's or if it's some kind of romanticised nostalgia.
     
  5. vince

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    Yeah? Tell that to my Dad!

    What a Ronald Reagan/GE moment.

    "You have no right to question him." LOL.
     
  6. jason_els

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    Oooooooh, what a chauvinistic reply!:wink: "...luxury of being stay at home housewives..." As IF being a housewife is a, "luxury," afforded a woman and "...had to work...," as if a housewife didn't work inside the home. What do you think housewives do all day? Sit around eating bon-bons?

    Given that the article in question never existed but similar media did, we have to look for other sources. A Date With Your Family, is an exceptional piece of WASPy instruction in emotional repression, patriarchal dominance, feminine subservience, and bourgeoise values:
    Advises children to do whatever is necessary -- even lie -- to achieve harmonious family relations. This portrait of manners among the affluent places a premium on pleasant, unemotional behavior, and contains some interesting do's and don'ts sequences. Key line: "These boys treat their dad as though they were genuinely glad to see him, as though they really missed him..."

    This brain-deadening film seems to go on forever, but it's well worth repeated viewing. It's probably one of the last to reflect pre-war social behavior; the great classless society of the fifties was just emerging and "formality" had not yet become a dirty word. -shaggylocks at YouTube.
    If Daughter doesn't end-up a bullemic wreck by the time she's 18, I'd be surprised.

    Sometimes it's difficult to assess what societal norms were in a time period without multiple sources. Media such as the film above are perhaps more propaganda than any reflection of actual societal behaviors.

    I think the true nail in the coffin of traditional family roles lies in a few different places. American women have a tradition of, "pioneer spirit," reflected in the mythical frontier woman who could manage a home and do hard labor while taking care of children and wielding a shotgun against bloodthirsty injuns. We admire a take-charge (to a point) woman like Molly Pitcher, Dolley Madison, Amelia Earhardt, Carrie Nation, Nelly Bly, etc.

    The nation had gone through numerous economic downturns, a few more severe than the 1970s recession yet none of these resulted in women significantly changing their roles in society. What did spark two major feminist revolutions were the two world wars. In the aftermath of WW I, women dropped the heavy gowns, cut their hair, and began to shed the Victorian moral restrictions which had lasted for nearly a century. Independent women began to make themselves known and we begin to see the rise of feminist writing. World War II took women out of the home and put them in positions of authority in commerce and the military. It seems to me that much of the rest of the 1940s and 50s were an attempt to put the genie back in the bottle. "Thanks ladies, time for you to go back into the kitchen," just didn't wash entirely. With this small taste of freedom, which was celebrated in films like Kitty Foyle and Mrs. Miniver, many women grudgingly went back to their former roles as housewives. What I think happened though was that the younger generation of women in the 1940s who went on to marry and have children, began to think outside of the box. Even if they returned to their traditional role, they saw the advantages of education in the work place and, as a result, their female children started attending college in very large numbers. Economic prosperity didn't make this as much of a hardship as it used to when many families could only afford to send sons to college. Upper class women always had access to higher education though many of the women's colleges were finishing schools without rigourous academics. The 50s saw these schools become far less popular with women demanding equal educational opportunities and attending what were once male-only schools or large state institutions where they shared course work with men. By the time these first women with educations on par with men were graduating, they understood that they could not go back to being working at home as their mothers had. They did not necessarily accept the patriarchal authority of their husbands or even believed they needed to be married. With a solid education, they could work and be economically independent.

    I think that women gaining and getting educational opportunities did not work out the way most people envisioned. Rather than stick to nursing, teaching, library science or other traditionally feminine occupations, women used their economic freedom to be whatever they wanted. Along the way though, someone forgot to tell men. Very frequently, from speaking to men of the era and in media, we see the independent woman as being a delightful novelty suited for comedy or drama right up until she finds the right man and submits to his authority, thus happily surrendering her independence. Look at Bewitched!, The Dick VanDyke Show, Bell, Book, and Candle, Desk Set, and many other movies and TV shows, even the Jacqueline Kennedy myth as told to Americans -- are patriarhcal fantasties of powerful and/or educated women surrendering to masculine authority once they discover their true feminine calling: being a housewife and mother.

    It was OK to indulge young independent women in a patronizing manner, but if they stayed single too long or worked at their job too hard, they were seen as a bit odd, possibly lesbian (Miss Hathaway anybody?). Men saw their mothers, not their sisters, as exemplars for feminine behavior and their fathers for masculine behaviors. While in school they probably loved having greater and freer access to women, they did not understand that these schools were training women to be just as competitive and independent as men. After all, schools did not begin adjusting their studies and curricula for women until after feminism had taken root in academia.

    The 60s introduced the final straw that broke the camel's back: The Pill. With The Pill, women had their final freedom denied to them by biology and chauvinistic thinking in men who tended to refuse to use condoms. Sexual freedom immediately gave women in our society, which does not depend upon physical strength to be competitive in most economic and social opportunities, an equality which many men found difficult to accept.

    With a new generation of educated, liberated, sexually free women, society underwent an enormous upheaval that reverberated through the western world. Note that the, "hippie," values of peace, love, understanding, equality, and happiness are traditionally feminine virtues. The 60s social revolution was the introduction of femininist ideals into male-dominated culture and truly, it was not easy. If war is the most masculine of pursuits, by the time Vietnam ended, feminist values had won just as much as masculine values had lost. By the mid-70s, women were in the professions, working as managers, and doing everything else including, "...bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man." Either men had to accept that women had equal footng in the world, or else they would be left behind. Indeed, such men became unfashionable enough to be parodied by the early 70s in such TV shows as All In the Family. Perhaps more interestingly, powerful women were getting heavy media representation from the mid-60s onward in shows like That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude, Phyllis, Rhoda, Good Times, Hart to Hart, and even Charlie's Angels. Books too, perhaps beginning with Bonjour Tristesse and continuing on through books like Looking For Mr. Goodbar and Fear of Flying gave literary legitimacy to powerful women characters. Unlike their TV counterparts, literary female characters could be overtly sexual and even predatory.

    For the most part, I see Populuxe mental hygiene films and media as reactionary propaganda developed by patriarchal conservatives (of both sexes) who realized that society was undergoing radical changes and wanted to put a stop to it for fear of upsetting the societal applecart. America was prosperous, there was a dire threat by Communism, there were nuclear bombs about to rain down on us all, and Europe was in tatters. America could not undergo a social revolution from uppity beatniks, (and later) hippies, and repressed lesbians who thought themselves to be men. America had to be a monolith of strength if we were to progress, spread American idealism and Protestant values, defeat Communism, and rebuild the world in our image while simultaneously economically and politically enslaving as much of it as possible. Like the British Empire before, ridgid social discipline had to be enforced if America was to remain America, as imagined by patriarchal conservatives.
     
    #6 jason_els, Jul 22, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  7. nudeyorker

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    I don't have any hard data on this, but my memory tells me that the divorce rates spiked in the 60's and 70's which was another reason many woman entered or reentered the workforce. Based on the rise in divorce at the time and the changing social climate; it would seem that life in the burbs were not always as happy as portrayed by the media and advertisers.
     
  8. earllogjam

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    Maybe life in the burbs were so boring that they needed a bit of shaking up - swinging, free sex, addictive prescription drugs, birth control pills, mini skirts, and rock and roll - all came about in the 60's and 70's too.
     
  9. earllogjam

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    Thanks Jason for that long but good read, interesting as usual. :smile:
     
  10. HazelGod

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    Ah, the good old days when women knew their place... :sigh:

    Fuck you, Susan B. Anthony!
     
  11. BBuford

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    Some of us still have it. I had three kids and changed exactly two diapers. Also for the last thirty years my wife has got up fixed me a cheese omelet with bacon or sausage toast and jelly and coffee then came back upstairs to wake me up for work.
     
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