Feminism in the 1950s.

The 1950s for me represent a time when feminism and femininity were beginning to ‘cross boundaries’ in a way. This was a time where women were beginning to exercise their rights and question gender stereotypes and roles.  Women were able to work, however views towards them as housewives had not changed, despite the roles women played in during the Second World War.

During the 1950s it was more acceptable for women to wear shorts and ‘pedal pushers’ in public.  Trousers were also seen as ‘okay’.  Many women still wore dresses.  The circle skirt was a very popular style and many women from that time chose circle skirts as their desired shape.  I think that although women were still ‘feminine’ (I’m talking purely in the way that they dressed and did their hair/makeup etc), there were more steps towards giving women a ‘voice’ in society.

For example, in the 1950s, sending information about birth control through the mail was no longer seen as a Federal Offence (in the USA).   In the 50s, more women were advocating to have the right to have access to birth control pills.  Katharine McCormick and Margaret Sanger were among the first women to organise research about the birth control pill and show that it was safe for women to use.  In 1960 the first pill became widely available for women.

After WWII, many women were being pressured into becoming housewives again (as many were working in previously male dominated jobs during the war).

This game box shows women in their rightful place – the kitchen.                                                  Image: https://comm3300.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/sexism-in-the-1950s/
Because women don’t know how to open bottles. (Image courtesy of http://theglobalfilipina.com)

Image from Pinterest

Although some became housewives again, a lot of other women continued to work.  This started to pave the way for equal pay (however, this is something that many are still working towards).  Many women wanted to have successes in life, other than just childcare and housework.  For example, working, attending college etc.

Image from: https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/tag/rosie-the-riveter/


Image from Emily’s Blog

Typically, Rosie the Riveter was an icon during WWII in America.  She represented the women working in shipyards and factories.  Rosie the Riveter was used as a tool for feminism (and still is used to this day).  Countries, such as Britain, had advertisements showing ‘strong’ women as well.  They were used by Governments to encourage women to work in factories during the War.  However, the above picture clearly shows that Rosie the Riveter was taken out of context and used as an advertisement for cleaning materials.  Emily from Emily’s Blog explained it:

…Rosie the Riveter was a common feminist rallying tool during the 1950’s to encourage women. However, this advertisement twists the original Rosie the Riveter and depicts women gaining power through new and more effective cleaning products. It’s no longer about earning a living and supporting the troops during the war, it’s about being able to keep your house spotlessly clean. This advertisement undermines what many second wave feminists tried very hard to diminish.

So many amazing things happened in the 1950s that have shaped the world as we know it today.  Women now have the ability (or should have the ability) to wear what they want, to be able to work in jobs that were previously male-dominated, to be able to go to University and to be something other than a housewife.  However, in saying that, just because someone wants to be a housewife or ‘stay at home mum’ does not mean they are anti-feminist.  My mum was a ‘stay at home mum’ and it was the best thing she ever did (I plan to be a ‘stay at home mum’).

I found this on Amy’s Comm 3300 Blog

Are you able to be a feminist but feminine?


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