Women’s role in society is a constantly evolving and adapting one. It’s true that women are not where they want to be when it comes to issues such as equal pay, and we still have some way to go.
When looking at where we are going however, it’s also interesting to look at where we came from. Take a look at how women lived in the 1950’s. This was a time of flux. Advertising had truly came into force and women were pictured smiling in various kitchen-based scenarios, immaculately dressed and made up for when their husbands came home from work. They were targeted for all sorts of products relating to domestic bliss, because they stayed at home while the men went out to be breadwinners.
Interestingly however, this would have felt like a step back for many women, as women’s role in society had already evolved from householder to someone who also played an important role outside of the home. During the war years, when men were away fighting, someone had to run the factories and keep things going in their absence. Women were called upon to come out in droves and get into the workforce, and they did so willingly. They worked on assembly lines, became clerks, and even decoded military messages. Suddenly, when the war was over, and affluence was more widespread than ever, they were called upon to play the role of perfect housewife. This didn’t work out so well for a lot of women, and issues such as depression were more common than people spoke of at the time.
Funnily enough, a lot of the new products being advertised were designed to save women time in household pursuits. Washing machines, dryers and other items actually freed them from household chores, yet advertising kept them right at home in the kitchen. The number of girls starting college dropped during the 50s, as women were encouraged to prepare themselves for their roles at home, women’s role in society had fallen back.
Yet, women have continued to rise above the stereotypical housewife, and have never gone back to where we were before the war. This was a watershed for women, and it set us on the path to equal living. We have some way to go, but another generation or two from now, we will look back again and see how far we have come.