Changing Roles of Men and Women

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Woman Pages: 7 (3609 words) Published: October 5, 2014
Changing Roles Of Men and Women

1950s

In the years that followed the second world war, a golden age in history was set out. There was a surge in business, and after mourning their lost ones, people had grown to accept this new life. However, this new age also led to the social hierarchy, placing men at the top and their women at their feet.

Men at the time were more than likely soldiers, adjusting to peace time once more. For most men, the idea was that they would start a family, get a job, and enjoy the benefits of being at the head of the household. The most common image of a man from this time was the typical business man, in a suit, going out and providing for his family. (Some of the most common occupations for men were drivers, secretaries and businessmen.) In return, it was expected for his wife, and all women, to be what was known as a “Good Wife”. A “good wife” would be expected to have a meal ready for her husband, to have perfect hair and make up, and to wait for the man to finish speaking before she spoke. It was socially acceptable for the man to punish his wife if he was displeased. Marital rape was commonplace, but often went unreported, due the expectations of a woman to please her husband. This often meant that the husband was allowed to abuse his wife for his own pleasure.

While it may have been seen as ideal to be the head of the household, the did come some downsides to being a provider. The main issue men faced would have been pressure to provide. It was up to the man and the man alone to provide for what was potentially an ever growing family. There would have been a number of factors that could have led a man to suffer from a great deal of stress. With the 50's came the civil rights movement, giving way to more minorities being allowed to work in the same profession as a white man. There was also an influx of immigrants at this time, who were seen as a cheap labour force by any big industrial power. This led to a number of men losing jobs, which then added to the stress. America at this time was at the height of the “Red Scare”, a period in which a mass hysteria gripped Americans, and a fear of communism was evident. People that failed to meet the American ideals were often classed as commies, and those that were, were unable to keep their jobs. Therefore, there were a number of factors that prove that despite the fact that they had supremacy, life for the 1950's man was not as easy as it seemed.

Women in the 50's had a difficult life. Many traditional women had no problem being subservient to men, it was an idea that had been in place since the birth of most modern nations. Women in the 50's strived to be the ideal wife. They spent an inordinate amount of time cooking and cleaning, ensuring that everything was perfect for when their husband came home. They would also ensure that they had perfect hair and make up, and would stand at the ready to greet their husband when he returned. Women would often suffer at the hands of their husbands if they were displeased, and the lack of equal rights laws meant that this was not only allowed, but in many cases, socially expected. Women were unlikely to have a career at this time, again relying more on their husbands to provide for the family. It was deemed as being disobedient if a woman went against her husbands will. In the 1960's, a new wave of feminist protests took place, inspired by the civil rights movement.

1960's

Inspired by the successes of the civil rights movement, women became bolder in their demands, and a new wave of feminism took hold. Women began to campaign for equality, and wanted to bring about an end to discrimination against women. A leading figure in women's feminism in the sixties was Betty Friedan. A leading figure in feminism, Friedan published a book in 1963, titled “The Feminine Mystique”. This was her term for a set if ideas that said that women's happiness came from being wives and mothers. Friedan...
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