Gender roles in the fifties? What were they like, and how have they changed. As I have talked about in my 2 previous posts, we’ve (in class) been talking a lot about the fifties. And a topic we recently touched on in class was gender roles, being a woman myself I was particularly interested in these said roles. The only thing I really know about gender roles in the fifties is from the musical hairspray (was that even set in the fifties???). So this is my little experience learning about gender roles in the fifties.

Coming out if the war was a very strange time for gender roles. During the war women had filled the traditional men’s roles in order to keep life going during war years. However once the soldiers returned home, women were obligated (kind of pressured) to return to their previous roles a carers of the home. This was pretty much the attitude towards women in the 50’s. The  biggest expectation was for women to bear children and run the family. Women in the fifties were often called selfish for taking up a job, as it supposedly showed they didn’t prioritize their family.

The other thing that I found interesting was that advertising campaigns in the fifties began to target women of the home. As part of a propaganda campaign advertisers contrasted a communist home VS a capitalist home. They showed a communist woman working in a factory and abandoning her children in a daycare, whereas the capitalist American women was at home cooking and spending time with her family. This was the creation of the idea that the family life and structure of America made it far superior to communist Russia. But this idea also put women in a very specific box, a box that women spent many years trying to break out of.

In the end I found this topic of gender roles interesting for one big reason, in the 50s almost went backwards. During wartime women had been treated much more fairly, and they’ve been the least pressure for women to do exactly what a “woman’s role” was. But in the 50s Women all of a sudden just went back to what they did before. In America the rate of women going to university was 47% in 1920 and by 1958 it had dropped to 38%, despite the fact that in general America was wealthier and education is more accessible. The postwar years were a ton of growth for almost everything, but somehow in a time of massive change, gender roles somehow managed to go backwards. From what I’ve read not many people really have no idea why so I’ll throw out mine, I think in the 50s people were sort of done with fighting, after war great depression and More war, people are very happy to settle for a time of peace. And women being obedient and not really fighting for themselves was part of that peace. It makes me very thankful for the world I live in today (and the place I live), because opportunities aren’t denied or frowned upon (for the most part) because I’m a woman.

Thanks for reading, (also this was supposed to be about gender roles but I really just talked about women’s roles, I apologize)