Changes in Feminism in the United States
By Sarah Rolfes
Have you ever wondered what it would be like back in the day? I always wished I lived back in the time of the poodle skirts and Grease where they had “no care in the world.” But researching the time in the 1940s and 50s in the United States, I found out that women did not have many rights and they had certain roles and expectations. Women had to stay home and men were always superior. Now in the United States, women can choose what they would want to do and be independent. The roles of women and the meaning of feminism has definitely changed since the 1940s and 1950s in the US.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the image a husband pictured about his wife was, “The happy, pretty, homemaker wife is one of the first images that comes to mind when we think about the 1950s” (BGSU). The roles of a woman included chores like doing the laundry, making dinner, cleaning the house, etc. A man thought that women were supposed to be happy because of everything the man provides. Women in the 1940s must always have a smile on her face and treat the men like royalty. A woman must aid the man’s side at all times and respond to his every need; she must keep the children in mint condition just as she does with the house. Men were considered to have a job while the women stayed home. During World War II, this was not the case; many women took over jobs because the men were gone at war. In the BGSU article it states, “In 1945 women were urged to leave the JOBS they held during World War II so returning soldiers could have them.” Once some of the women didn’t have jobs, they went back to the normal housewife and did their duties. Men thought of women incapable of maintaining a job and doing anything that doesn’t involve the housework. Women were upset about the way they were treated—they wanted equality—so that was soon changed by certain laws that were passed.
Even though many men think our society is still the same as it was before, it has definitely changed for the better. Women still have some of the expectations they had back in the 1940s. Some of them include preparing dinner for the husband coming home after work, doing the laundry, sweeping the house, grocery shopping, etc. Nowadays women have the choice to do whatever they please and have the freedom of an education and a job. Rothenburg, in the blog Feminism Then and Now, explains the modern version of feminism:
Empowerment, we are now asked to believe, it is not about getting an education, not about becoming economically independent, not about taking control of our bodies, not about saving the environment, not about working toward social justice, but dressing a certain way and wearing the newest version of whatever t-shirt or body piercing we choose.
Feminism changed into the way women expose their body, the clothing they choose to wear, and the piercings and tattoos they have.
Feminism has changed from one matter to another. Feminism is not much of a hot topic than it was back in the 1940s since women now have rights and are treated equally to men. Now, feminism is about the clothes women wear rather than rights and roles of women. The roles of women and the meaning of feminism has significantly changed since the 1940s and 1950s in the US.
“American Memory of the 1950s Housewife: An Introduction.” BGSU Wiki. BGSU, 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Ameehan@rollins.edu. “Support Troops: The Role of the Housewife in the 1950s.” ThirdSight History. WordPress and Hatch, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
Rothenberg. “Feminism Then and Now.” CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names. Counter Punch, 2007. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
“Stereotypes.” BGSU Wiki. BGSU, 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.