You’ve seen those corny 1950s advertisements with smiling, cartoon faces sporting unusually bright smiles.
Each shows the picture perfect household, a man with a gentle expression of admiration and a wife in (where else?) the kitchen. The misogyny is laid on rather thick, and when the ads don’t have a woman in the kitchen, she’s cleaning the house or shining her husband’s shoes.
It’s the happiest slavery arrangement you’ve ever seen, and in the 1950s, it was considered perfectly acceptable. After all, a woman’s place was in the home, pandering to her husband as the happy housewife. Here are just a few advertisement gems the 50s pumped out:
- An ad for Schill’s Beer, where a distraught women stands before the stove crying on her husband’s shoulder: “Don’t worry, darling! You didn’t burn the beer!”
- An ad for Mornidine, a pill for morning sickness: “Now she can cook breakfast again!”
- An ad for Van Heusen ties, where a woman kneels and holds a breakfast tray up to her husband, who is lounging in bed: “Show her it’s a man’s world!”
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s because of this era that being called a “housewife” is demeaning to women. It evokes images of a dominant male with a more than submissive wife, willing and ready to do anything to please her man, and heaven help her if she doesn’t!
The 1950s weren’t exactly friendly to women.
Sure, there were genuinely happy families with darling children and a loving husband and wife. It wasn’t all bad. There was, however, an attitude that women weren’t good for much else than sex and cooking. Oh, and laundry. The house was where the woman belonged. Her career was serving her husband and raising the children.
After a long day at work, the husband would slump into his armchair (going to meetings all day and sitting in comfy corporate chairs is tiring, you know) and be treated with ministrations of “Oh, you poor dear!” and “Let me rub your feet!” It was the wife’s duty to make him as comfortable as possible, even if she had spent the whole day scrubbing tubs and dishes and doing ten loads of laundry.
The wife was never to question her husband. She simply didn’t understand how difficult it was to be a man in the working world. “Real work” was something unfamiliar to her; all she did was what a woman was required to, nothing out of the ordinary. Keeping up with the children and the house was supposed to be a walk in the park for her.
Thankfully, the later years of the 20th century led to the feminist movement, and men began to feel a healthy respect for women. A career is no longer out of the question for a woman, and several have found successful positions in some of the world’s top companies. A large portion of women are able to hold down full-time jobs while still raising their kids, and a sizable number have also become the household’s breadwinners.
Now that things have evened out a bit, and sexism isn’t running quite as rampant in our society, men understand just how strong and powerful women are.
Expect to hear more titles like “Superwoman” spattered with a few choice phrases from one’s husband like “Yes, honey” and “Let me cook dinner tonight.”
I personally have no issues being called a housewife. I am a housewife, this is a personal choice and I consider my beloved one and me are a team, sometimes we switch some tasks depending on our schedule and mood. it is simply a question of balance and communication 🙂
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