~Sugar and Spice~

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“Women belong in the kitchen” that is stereotype that a women’s role is to feed her family and take care of the home. During the 1950s the idea that a woman should live for her husband and family became a dominant image. Television, radio, and magazines bombarded them with the assurance that the kitchen was their way to fulfill their role as a mother. Advertisements often targeted women, depicting them in the kitchen, serving dinner, cleaning or rather enjoying cleaning the home.
          As time past, more women would steer away from the stepford wife role. Women left their role in the kitchen to go to college and pursue a career outside the home. Women are making up almost 47 % of the workforce in the United States up from 30 percent in 1950s. Due to the economy many jobs have disappeared from industries dominated by male workers such as, manufacturing and jobs that are majority ran by females like healthcare are flourishing. Employers started giving opportunities to women employees making them financially stable. However, gender discrimination is still a very real issue, it is now being recognized as a problem. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn. It gets worse as women work longer hours  women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn. Federal law protects women and other minorities from discrimination in the work place. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 ended the practice of paying men more than women when performing the same jobs and duties. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act extended this protection to other minorities. Despite these protections, many women still feel gender-based discrimination is a problem in some businesses
Even though, more women are joining the workforce the stereotype still exists that their role is still to cook, take care of the children and keep the house clean.
           I have a few friends that are stay at home mothers and enjoy taking care of the children and the housework. If possible, I would love to be a stay at home mom. Yet, with the economy today its almost next to impossible.

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4 Responses to ~Sugar and Spice~

  1. I think these ideas and images that place women in the home are much older than the 1950s. Check out this Wikipedia entry on the Cult of True Womanhood which references the work of historian Barbara Welter.

    Great slideshow by the way. How did you do that?

  2. lumosliz says:

    I was just about to ask about the slideshow as well, I love it!

    But yeah, I feel like this stereotype just reached it peak in the mass media during the ’50s. I really don’t understand how some people can seriously still think this way. I mean, sometimes I crack those jokes about women in the kitchen making sandwiches but I never mean them… it’s just a joke. I can see how it developed, since with men gone off to work women had to be the ones to take care of kids or whatever, but times have changed a lot. It really does bother me that women are paid less on average than men. My dad recently lost his job so my mom is the only one left providing money for our family, and she’s been working two jobs for as long as I remember, even back when my dad had a job. Because of this, she’s not home often to cook and clean, but that’s still what she does when she comes home. My dad has always been home more often so he does a lot of housework, so in my [nuclear] family we don’t recognize anything as “your job” when it comes to that.

    It’s totally different with my paternal grandparents, though. They were born in the ’40s and grew up seeing their parents in these “traditional” roles. My great-grandmother did have a job, but it was only part-time to supply extra money because she had five children to take care of. This meant that my grandma, the middle child, took care of her four brothers and shared a large load of the housework from an early age. In her family they saw this as the duty of the female to take care of the males… something I still see in her today. My mom went back to work shortly after she had me so my grandma became my allomother, which meant that she quit her job, and now that I’m grown up, she still stays at home.

    It bothers me sometimes how subordinate my grandmother is to my grandfather, though. She does whatever he asks and always serves him. I’m always like “Why can’t he get up during a commercial and get his own beer?” But she tells me that it’s her duty as his wife to do menial tasks for him. I think this comes not only from her on rearing, but also from the fact that my grandparents are extremely devoted evangelical Christians. The religion is very patriarchal and teaches its followers these ridiculous gender roles. It seems that that America in the ’50s was also very overtly religious and that a lot of these ideas of female subordination stemmed from religiosity, as well tradition (and our Western tradition was influenced by Christianity).

    • lumosliz says:

      Also, personally I don’t like the idea of being a stay at home mom. I want to have two children but I don’t want them to get in the way of my career goals. I’m still working out in my mind how to balance the two. I’ve seen it happen a lot but at what cost to the children?

  3. Thanks for posting this, Steph. There is no doubt that traditional ideas about what women should do with their lives have changed some. In addition, a woman working outside the home is commonplace now but women continue to be the primary caregivers to children if they choose to have any. I like the cartoon depiction of a woman taking on all these demands from her boss but he still expects her to fetch his coffee. In my own work experience, I have dealt with some sexism but, my current supervisor makes me realize that there are some men that want 100% equality for women even more so than some women want it. As far as relationships, what I find with my married friends is that husbands are taking on more domestic duties in the household and seem to be much more attentive to children.
    Overall, our society is improving in many ways in regards to women but there is much more that needs to be done. There is still the “glass ceiling” where women are passed over for the top jobs and unequal pay is still very much a reality. Societal change takes time and what women need to do is go after positions of power. I would like to live to see the day when 50% of our Senators & Congresspersons are women or The POTUS is finally a woman. Not sure if this can occur in my lifetime but a girl can dream, can’t she?

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