Katherine Watson Film Analysis

1137 Words 5 Pages
Set in the 1950’s, the film follows Katherine Watson, a socially progressive and unmarried 30 year old college graduate, who takes a position teaching “The History of Art” at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private college in Massachusetts, and her struggles to make a difference, both in the lives of her students and generations to come. In this paper I will examine how the film challenges gender stereotypes, investigates the sexist values of society at the time, and how it illustrates that certain expectations for women have changed over time, and some have remained the same

The film shows the ideal 1950s woman as a pretty and multi-talented wife: a mother, a cook, a maid, a trophy, and perhaps most important of all -- a homemaker. Marriage is prioritized over most things, including education, careers, personal goals, and happiness. Women are expected to sacrifice whatever is necessary in order to become a wife, and women who do not are widely regarded as unfulfilled, having failed their sole purpose in life. Katherine is considered an oddity for being thirty and unmarried, and apparently without the desire to marry. She does not subscribe to the typical values of a 1950s woman, and is thus considered deviant.
Similarly, the school nurse and Katherine’s roommate,
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The advertisements depict women as pretty, shallow, perfect housewives -- a perfect representation of gender stereotypes and how they permeated the culture at the time. She sardonically suggests that Wellesley college is merely training women to be better wives. “Now, you physics majors,” she says emphatically, “can calculate the mass and volume of every meatloaf you make!” Her students are visibly affected, but Katherine continues. “I didn’t realize that by demanding excellence, I would be challenging ... the roles you were born to

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