1942 Minneapolis Tribune, “WACs and WAVES and women welders… where is it all going to end?… Is it hard to foresee, after the boys come marching home and they marry these emancipated young women, who is going to tend the babies in the next generation?” “Let him know you are tired of living alone, that you want him now to take charge.”

Veterans want women to display “tenderness, admiration, or at least submissiveness.”

98% women surveyed wanted to continue work in shipyard or otherwise use skills;

June to Sept 1945, one out of every four women dropped from factory jobs.

Margaret Picket, college dean of women: women “lack the gift for teamwork… [and] corporate loyalty,” “unprofessional” and “do not age well. By middle age, when men are at their best, a devoted woman worker is apt to degenerate into a strained fussiness or worse.” “Marriage and sensible motherhood are probably the most useful and satisfying of all the jobs women can do.”

Electrician’s helper $48 a week - switch to saleswoman at $28 a week.

1945 poll, 57% of women & 63% of men said that married women whose husbands earned enough shouldn’t be allowed to hold jobs even if they wanted.



Bill Levitt – Levittown (Long Island);

17,000 houses holding 82,000 people;

advertisers: new appliances labor-saving;

1924 women 52 hours/week on housework - 1965 55 hours; 

for working women, "second shift"; housework physically easier, but still time-consuming;

rising expectations, less household help;

Result - "more work for mother."     

Advertising: "Prime rib roast, like peach ice cream, is a wonderful stimulant to family loyalty."

1950s NY psychiatrist, "You all know women who lack warmth and tenderness.  They do not want to be homemakers or mothers, but judges of the Supreme Court.  Such a woman could suffer total sexual frigidity or homosexuality by separating herself from all that is considered womanly such as cooking and making a home."

1947 The Modern Woman: The Lost Sex - psychoanalyst Marynia Farnham & sociologist Ferdinand Lundberg;

feminism "neurotic reaction to natural male dominance." 

Career women "penis envy";

Government should tax bachelors & subsidize mothers - therapy for feminists;


Ladies Home Journal & McCalls, "the two big steps that women must take are to help their husbands decide where they are going & use their pretty heads to help the men get there."

1946 birthrates skyrocket;

1957 – a record 4.3 million babies born;

“baby boom”;

Cold War – US vs. USSR, democracy vs. communism; 

1950 Educating Our Daughters - colleges should teach girls duty” to marry soon, bear at least three children, to fight world’s “drift toward totalitarianism”;

Atlantic Monthly, “It is for woman as mother to restore security in our insecure world.”


Mothers as community builder - church groups, PTA & women’s clubs;

less than 5% of public offices;

1952 Dems & GOP eliminate parties’ Women’s Division;

1952 The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet;

Leave it to Beaver - June Cleaver;

Father Knows Best - “Princess” dropping out of college to marry;

I Love Lucy – Lucille Ball;

Leave it to Beaver was not a documentary.”

25% below poverty line in 1950s;

20% of couples describe marriage as unhappy;

Teenage culture - girls should work hard to become “popular”, “going steady.” 

1944 Seventeen -

dating do’s & don’t: “Do point out Johnny’s best features. Say something like: ‘You have hands like a doctor’s, strong and efficient.’”“Don’t ever let your irritation show on your face. When you’re angry, sit still, be quiet, smile if you possibly can, and start [by saying] ‘I’m sorry.’”

40% of women at Barnard admitted sometimes “playing dumb”;

1959 Barbie doll;

“She’s engaged!  She’s lovely! She uses Pond’s!”

“Camay, for skin that says, ‘I do!’”

Christian Dior “New Look”, “I designed clothes for flowerlike women… full feminine busts and willowy waists above enormous spreading skirts.”


1953 Playboy -

Hugh Hefner “Playboy philosophy”: If you are a man between 18 and 80, Playboy is for you… If you’re somebody’s sister, wife, or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life & get back to Ladies’ Home Companion… [since this is] a pleasure-primer style to the masculine taste… We enjoy mixing up cocktails… putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion of Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex….”

nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe;

1955 “Playmates”: “It’s natural to think of the pulchritudinous Playmates as existing in a world apart.  Actually, potential Playmates are all around you: the new secretary at your office, the doe-eyed beauty who sat opposite you at lunch yesterday, the girl who sells your shirts and ties in your favorite store.  We found Miss July in our own circulation department, processing subscriptions….”


1949 Soviet Union atom bomb -

Defense Dept - 22 million copies The Family Fallout Shelter;

Life – gender division in shelter;


Alfred Kinsey-

1950 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male ("Kinsey Report");

1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female;

questionnaires to over 5000 white women;

gynecologist William Masters & psychologist Virginia Johnson -

1966 Human Sexual Response;



more white married women entering labor force after children entered school (often part-time);

1950s growing service sector;

second income to “help out” family;

1956, “She works rather casually, as a third of the US labor force, and less toward a big career than as a way of filling a hope chest or buying a new home freezer.  She gracefully concedes the top job rungs to men.”

1948 Ladies’ Home Journal - “bad housekeeping” and “poor cooking” were a “direct cause of divorce.” 

“latchkey kids” grow up juvenile delinquents;

“Momism” – overly obsessive;