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Ever question what it was like to live in the 1950's? The roles of men and women gradually changed over time. Television shows and films generated show-related toys and books. "Gender Roles, I'm homeeeeee "

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Divorce in 1950

Divorce was not a common thing. Why? Societal pressure for many reason. You were supposed to get married and stay married, regardless of how miserable you were. Divorce carried a HUGE stigma.

Besides the fact, that women who want to get divorced carried a stigma, they had no where to go. Women couldn't get a decent job to take care of themselves ( and children). A woman's best chance at employment would probably be a secretary, teacher, or nurse. So, there was an economic incentive to stay married.

Here's a scenario, the affairs that the husband carried. The wives would expect it, but will never confront because there only reason was to stay together, happy.

However, the statistics have changed. From not being common thing to now which is divorce is acceptable. I am not a fan of divorce, but no one should be against their will to stay together.


Since the 1950s, American women have been less respected in the society. The image of a typical 50s woman was a happy housewife who cooked the food, cleaned the house, and watched the children. It is sad to say that, few women received a higher-level education. After high school, many of girls stayed home while their husbands worked to support the family.

Through my eyes, in the 1950s education was the fundamental part of gender construction. The ratio of men to women going to college was 9:1.

Here is a quote that I've found from a woman who lived through 1950 unfair education policy.

"Women who failed to conform to the June Cleaver/Margaret Anderson role of housewife and mother were severely criticized. A 1947 bestselling book, The Modern Woman, called feminism a "deep illness," labeled the idea of an independent woman a "contradiction in terms," and explained that women who wanted equal pay and equal educational opportunities were engaged in a "ritualistic castration" of men."

It is proven that women did not have the opportunities they have today and no, I'm not a feminist at heart, but detest unfairness. Thank God, that the ideas about the mental, economic, and social purposes of women in America are no longer the same as they were four decades ago.

Friday, December 12, 2008



Barbies in the 1950s TOTALLY reflect Gender Roles. The barbies became a young girl's best friend. Most of the toys constructed young girls how to become a " good mommy." It would help them imagine their life.

And, then we had the boy toys like the GI Joe. This toy represented that men were strong, had courage, and was "America's Movable Fighting Man." This was new territory in imaginative play for boys - G.I. Joe was not a "doll" he was an "action figure."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Color Television!

From the end of the 1940s to the beginning of the 1950s, color television was starting to be introduced to the general public. In 1953, the fist live color commercial and  TV program were broadcast on NBC. This is an extremely impacting event in the history of advertising and television, in general. With color television, advertisements are able to convey different ideas through this added element. They can portray different feelings with the colors during regular television programs. Also, during commercials, the product being sold can be made to look more appealing if they are shown in color. This new advancement makes television more popular and children watched on an average of six hours of it each day. This is the same amount of time they spent in school. Also, since it was more widely utilized, information was able to be spread more quickly and easily. This time was one of major technological growth and the innovation of color TV was only one of them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elvis Presley

In the 1950's the type of music that was listened was rhythm and blues, jazz, and musicals. But the main genre that came to mind and is said to have been born in the 1950's, was Rock n' Roll. This music was most popular amongst teenagers trying to free themselves from the conservative and typical American stereotypes of this time. Rock n' Roll was a mix of southern blues and gospel music with the additional strong background beat. A lot of this music reflected the mood on post WWII and provided a sense of vitality. In 1956, Elvis Presley became the first "rock star", and would quickly influence the nation and change the music industry. It was said that although the girls swooned over his physical appearance and provocative music, some teenage boys displayed a sense of disdain and jealousy towards him.

Elvis became a sensual icon and was said to be the first man that would express the idea of sex in his performances. The way he danced and moved his hips led people to believe that he would wrongly influence teenagers. Due to the the conservative nation that swept across America in the 1950's some girls were banned from even listening to his music. Elvis's newly found style appealed to his audience and made them want to see more. He wore bright colored and designed suits and made others try to imitate his style he used a visual rhetoric to gain popularity. Because of his innovative style, It would jump start America into new trends amongst males and females. Rock and Roll led teenagers to break out of their shells and rebel.

However, Elvis would remain the first notorious Rock n' Roller.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Famous people that influenced gender roles.


Marylin Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Lucille Ball are just a few of the names that really stood out during the 50s. These three, very popular, ladies influenced 50s housewives in a tremendous way. Marylin Monroe was one of the biggest sex symbols in America at the time and women all around the U.S. watched her every move trying to, in a way, imitate her and her ways in order to grab their husband's attention. Grace Kelly influenced women and young women of all ages in the United States by being a fashion icon. The women would always keep their eyes peeled for any new fashion tips or any new outfits or trends. Lucille Ball was the typical 50s housewife, in the show "I Love Lucy." In this program she was the main character, Lucy. Although Lucy was a housewife to her loving husband Ricky Ricardo, Lucy stood up for herself and did not let anyone tell her what to do or push her around. her character stood for what women should be like, independent and not pushed around by their husbands or men in general. 

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan posed as a major influence in the 1950's. She was an American feminist, writer, and activist. Her motivational outlook on gender roles allowed women to be inspired to take on a new role. She encouraged women to break out of the gender roles they were assigned by making speeches and writing books. As a wife and mother herself, she felt that she wasn't doing any good for anyone and that she would be able to achieve a lot more by doing other things. 
She was one of the women that founded the National Organization for Women and the Nation Abortion Rights Action League. This group felt that women should have the right to an abortion if they wanted. This empowers women to take control of their bodies which was a new concept for them because they were so overshadowed by the men in their lives. Betty Friedan was an innovative thinker that helped women to evolve to the way they are today, independent and respected. Without her strong motivational style, our society may not be the way it is today, full of equality between everyone, no matter their gender.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fashion in the 1950s

Fashion in the 1950s revolved around Gender Roles. Gender Roles affected all ages from youths to adults.

During this era, many of the youths had expectations for being a "real man or woman." The youths conformed to be like the expected one. Guys had to be "macho" and girls had to be 
"feminine." Their wasn't any middle between them. The attire they wore helped them to conform or fit in to their gender roles. 

Men Fashion:

The attire:
The guys wore leather jackets to help them attract girls. The collar of the black leather jacket must be turned up to be a “hep”. But one thing that the guys back in the 50's wont let go of was his Leather Jacket and his comb!

elvis Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket

The hair:
The haircut would be called the “ducktail” or more commonly known as the DA. To accomplish this look you would need a lot of grease or hairspray! Only guys that had a cause ( rebels ) did this style.

Then we had the "Good-Guy look"
Not all the boys wore leather. Some boys liked innocent look. This was considered 'clean cut'. Most of these boys wore a letter sweater and penny loafers.

Women Fashion:

Poodle skirts were very popular. Young teenagers and women wore them. It is a wide swing skirt with a fabric poodle placed on the bottom part of the skirt. Another type of skirt was the pencil skirt ( Yes, we brought it back) ! No wardrobe was complete without a pencil skirt. Pencil skirts are long below the knee and not wide as the poodle skirts are. They're very tight together to your legs. None the less the girls looked great.

Black Pencil Skirt Pictures, Images and Photos <------( Transition to today )
50s fashion Pictures, Images and Photos <------ ( Actual Attire)


Nothing was more poplar then the saddle shoes. Even though they were very heavy and rather stiff. They were black and white and looked like a sneaker. They were huge heels that looked like dancing shoes. They were really pretty! Another fashion shoe was the ballet slipper. It was the popular choice and was often worn with cutie white socks!

None the less..... Styles in the 50's were like no other. The girls dressed to impress the boys and the boys tried to impress the girls.

Gender Roles Throughout the Years

Gender roles play a large part on the effects of society. They define where a person's expected place in the community lies. Fortunately, they have changed greatly since the 1950s. At this time, men and women had drastically differing responsibilities. The woman was expected to cook and clean whereas the man was supposed to be the breadwinner. Anything outside of these strict places was looked down upon for either gender. If a man had to stay home with the children while the wife went to work, this would be seen as a negative circumstance. However, today, this is more accepted. This isn't to say that there still isn't a stereotypical "housewife", but it is nowhere near as common as it used to be. Women are more independent and it's not socially unacceptable for a man to have less power over his wife. Overall, gender roles have become more flexible to for today's society as a whole.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World War II Ends!

During WWII, the roles of men and women changed drastically. With husbands and Sons away from home and fighting for their country, women had to take their place. Women were sent to work to build planes, tanks, and ships for WWII. They not only had to maintain life at home, but they had to go out and make the money for their family as well. Propaganda was used to attract women into the work force and promote the idea that it was their duty to help out with the war. Some ads attempted to make war work glamorous, and used a Pathos appeal and linked it with patriotism. Slogans like "We can do it!" and "Women, the war needs you!" caused women to take pride in their roles and convinced them of importance to work for their country. By the closing of World War II, the lives of men and women were about to change once again. Men came home from wars and the number one priority became family.