For my second TWIL post, I’m shifting my gaze from the political side of things, to the social aspect of both the 1950’s. More specifically, I’ll be focusing on the role of women, and how important they are to a household in both these time periods.
Transcript of Podcast
What does 11th century Scotland have in common with post WW2 America? How have women’s roles changed over the centuries? Why can’t men do their own laundry? Podcast time!
Women’s roles during WW2 and post WW2 were drastically different. After working in factories for years while the men were away, manufacturing munitions and the like for the war, women were expected to go back to being house wives. And for the most part, they did. Only one third of the workforce in America were women. The rest were conforming to the ‘American dream’. This American dream, of 2.5 kids, a house in the ‘burbs, dominated the media. Society demanded this idea, and people, as they do, conformed.
Women needed a husband, a house, somewhere to become this thing, this housewife. Men also needed a wife. Being a bachelor in the 1950’s was not a good idea. Being seen as a homosexual, at this time, was really bad. Whispers of communism were everywhere. By being someone who could be blackmailed into communism, you were at risk. So by obtaining a wife, this suspicion was gone. Of course, that’s just one reason they got married.
In this American dream, the housewife literally held the house together. Cooking, cleaning, all of this was extremely important for the ‘successful man’. She was the support of the house, the support of the success.
In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth really is that supporting wife. Macbeth sees her as an equal, calling her in the play ‘my dearest partner of greatness’. And yet, it is still her who prepares the house for the king, ordering the servants about in preparation for the occasion. In the 11th century, women had roles akin to the ones in the 16th century, as in the 20th. Lady Macbeth’s status brings her above many tasks, but she still runs the household.
Lady Macbeth is also the support behind her husband, driving him forward alongside his ambition. Without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth wouldn’t be where he is in act 3 of the play. She supported his ideas, was counsel before the plot, created the plan for the murder. At each step Macbeth took forward, Lady Macbeth was right there with him.
In both times, women were seen as the weaker sex, only capable of housework and the like. Lady Macbeth has to perform witchcraft, ‘unsex’ herself, to be able to perform the deed of killing Duncan. Women were the ‘innocent flower’ then, as they were in the 50’s. Though society moves forwards, some stereotypes move as well. In any case, both timelines need the support of the women, them, working behind the scenes, keeping everything together.
For this TWL, my artifact is a podcast. I brought this together using my GarageBand and sound skills we’ve been learning over the past couple years. Sound is one of my favourite mediums to work with, so this was a blast!