20th Century Gender Roles Essay

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Gender Roles through Mid- 20th Century
Rewind to late 19th century/ early 20th century America. A woman’s identity was largely defined by religion and culture. At that time period, men were perceived as having the power. They were expected to be socially, politically, and financially dominant. Women were subservient. Dr. Graham Warder described men and women of this time being in two “separate spheres”. Expectations for men consisted of economic striving, political maneuvering, and social competition. Expectations for women’s behavior centered on privacy, family, and morality. (Warder, n.d.) Domesticity dominated a women’s life from housekeeping tasks to education the children. It was unheard of for a woman to hold a job outside the home. Moving
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Sexuality in the 1950’s had very definitive boundaries. There was no pre-marital sex. Dating consisted of a series of steps: friendship, courtship, marriage between a man and a woman, and then procreation. Sex education revolved around the idea that men were expected to be authoritarian in nature. Since men were the breadwinners of the family, they made the financial decisions and assumed the responsibility of supporting the family. Women were homemakers. Their responsibilities included cleaning/ cooking/ sewing/ etc., supporting their husbands in their endeavors, having children and teaching the children the same morals, values and gender roles that governed their lives. (Ardinger, 2012) Women were to behave morally when it came to sexuality. They were expected to dress conservatively, not to bring attention to themselves. It was believed that if they did draw any type of sexual attention, they would be ruining their reputation and it would be offensive to their …show more content…
Some of the issues that were fought for were access to equal educational opportunities, equal pay for equal work, awareness and protection from domestic violence, removing the glass ceiling when it comes to managerial positions in the work place, an end to sexual harassment, and equal distribution of household responsibilities including child rearing. (Walsh, 2010) It became common to see women in positions traditionally held by men, and men in the household assisting in childrearing and other household responsibilities. The more independence and confidence women gained, the more evident were shifts in gender roles and sexual behavior. More women went to college and therefore were getting married later in life. Society’s perception of beauty and sex also shifted. Whereas once fair skinned, curvy women were thought to be the epitome of beauty, today’s media features just the opposite. Women are influenced to be skinnier and darker skinned to feel beautiful. An increasing number of advertisements included scantily clad women using alcohol or tobacco

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