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THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE 1950s
Transcript of THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE 1950s
How it started
During World War II, almost all the men were at war. women had to take over men's job to be able to support their families and to keep the country running. After WWII many men returned home and took their jobs back, women were able to retrn home to be house wifes.
Society held high standards for women, and they were expected to fulfill these standards at all cost.
Women were under great pressure to be what society thought of as "the perfect woman."
Woman "wanted to appeal to men and society and therefore they felt they had to be perfect and over working. They only felt sucure when they were praised for their house keeping or kids."
How Men Saw Women in the 1950's
Men saw women as housewife. they were to have dinner ready when they came home from work and please him in every way possible. "A wife was considered a "good" wife only if she carried out her man's every order and agreed with him on everything. In fact, even if she wanted to voice an opinon, he educated, or rather lack of thereof would not allow it. (Coob)."
Men feared intelligent women because that would mean that they would be able to make their own decisions and think for them selves and that could cause them to disagree with their husbands. When a woman learned something new she became a threat to his "manly hood" and pride.
Men loved thier wifes, they were also good husbands, and fathers
They expected wives to behave in a certain way. Women were not to engage in men's conversations; but stand near the men offereing them "heure d'heurves".
1950's Women social life
The kind of advertisement we see during the 1950's shows the pressure society put on women to be the perfect housewives. Here are some few examples:
"Ideal Woman"- perfect cook, efficient housekeeper, be able to keep her husband happy, take excellent care of the kids, and run errands.
"A woman's place is the home"- the most important role for a woman is that of "motherhood" and the ultimate goal of a woman's life is is the care of her husband, family and household.
"Women do not make important decisions"- woman never made any important purchased or decisions. the decisions they made were often under a male's supervision or "shadow". women were often portrayed as shoppers of clothing and grocery instead of in the workforce.
"Woman are dependent on and in need of a man's protection and acceptance"- woman should fit the social standard of what they should be in order to be happy, accepted and loved by a man. Women were dependent on a man for income and to be head of the household.
Woman's Role in Society
"The role of women in the 1950 was a society-endorsing template that all women had to fill. Women had to be prefect mothers, obedient wives and clever homemakers. This perfection was not n a personal level, but rather on societies standards. The raising of the new generation was extremely important at this time so women worked diligently and hard to fill the oversized shoes prepared for them. Many TV shows of the fifties portrays this angelic mother figure with not a care in the world except her children (Coob)."
It was not typical for women to get any education after high school. They would usually marry right after high school and those who did go to college would drop out and would get married soon after. In fact, "a common streotype was that women went to college to get a "Ms." (pronounced M.R.S.) degree, meaning a husband (Klotz)." Men were responsible for making the families' income and handling the money. Men did not trust their wives with money because they were not educated enough, which is ironic because women were discouraged from getting formal education (Coob 2005). Women who did attend college were not taught traditional subjects such as math and science like men were, they were taught subjects like home economics and cooking (Coob 2005).
Women in Everyday Life
Women in the 1950's were basically meant to keep the household running smoothly.
First and foremost keeping her husband happy, cooking, keeping the house clean, caring for the children, and running errands.
Her day consisted of waking up the children, making a satisfying breakfast for them and her husband then sending the children of to school, she would clean the house and do chores throughout the day. She would run errands, go grocery shopping and do the laundry and maybe if she had time she would join her friends for a match of tennis or have a cup of coffee with them. However, she would make sure she is back in time to be able to greet her children back home and feed them. She would then tidy herself up and have dinner ready and the house ready for her husbands arrival from work. Once he arrives she would do what ever she will greet him with a warm welcome and serve him dinner and do what ever she can to please him after his long day at work.
during the late 1950's women began to become unsettled with their role in society and that they were not able to achieve equality not only in the workforce but in education as well.
Woman began to work outside of their homes in the late 1950's
By 1957 "more than 70 percent, held clerical, assembly-line, or service jobs. Only 12 percent practiced a profession, and 6 percent held management positions"(Baughman).
Official Feminist movement didn't take off until 1960.
Women and the media
The media played a large role in making it clear how and what a woman should be.
Shows such as "I Love Lucy" portrayed a stereotypical view of a woman who was always in need and dependent of her husband to bail her out of situations she got herself into.
Movies also portrayed stereotypical women.
Advertisements were directed mostly to women as they were the ones who would do the shopping.
Adds began using persuasive messages that would persuade the woman to buy their products solely to please their husbands.
Beauty products began to advertise to housewives whose only objective was to meet and exceed the expectations of their husbands and children.
Excerpt from the essay How to be a Good Wife
How to be a Good Wife is an essay found in the 1950's American High School Home Economics textbook.
"Have dinner ready. Prepare yourself. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. Clear away the clutter...run a dust cloth over the tables."
"Some Don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Listen to him: You may have dozens of things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or other pleasant entertainments."
Beside their role as housewives,woman also engaged in "lady like" social activities such as playing an acceptable sport for ladies like tennis
Go for lunch or have a cup of coffee with some friends
Going to sowing or quilt making clubs.
Even when the women would go out their activities were in some way or another linked to home life or wanting to please their husband's desires.
By: Daniela Vargas