Popular Culture, And Gender Roles In The 1950s

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The 1950s was an important era in United States history as it welcomed new beliefs, perspectives, inventions and styles. It also marked the end of World War II shifting the country’s focus to the fight against communism and the Cold War. Domestically, the country’s gender roles stiffened as men tended to have jobs outside the house while women tended to work at home. Popular culture was also an important factor during the 1950s as it shaped how the decade would be perceived in the future. Depending on the topic or issue, popular culture either did or didn’t portray the reality of what was going on during the 1950s. Regarding foreign affairs and gender roles, popular culture accurately portrayed the reality of the 1950s because it truthfully …show more content…
When looking at television shows, specifically I Love Lucy, this is especially true. I Love Lucy was a famous show between 1951 and 1957 that was about a housewife, Lucy, and her husband Ricky, who had a job outside the house.9 Throughout the series, Lucy always ends up finding herself in crazy situations. In one episode, Lucy and her friend Ethel switch roles with Ricky and Fred as they go and try to work at a chocolate factory while Ricky and Fred try and do housework.10 It ends up being a disaster for both the men and women as the women struggle to complete the work at the factory and the men virtually destroy the kitchen.11 This show accurately represents gender roles in the 1950s because it’s sending the message that women usually do housework while men work outside the house. This was a reality because in 1950, wives only earned wages in 21.6 percent of families.12 In a 1953 advertisement about Del Monte, gender roles are also accurately portrayed (Appendix B).13 By saying, “You mean a woman can open it?”, this advertisement claims that women are inferior to men and also are dependent on them.14 Although this is fairly extreme and sexist, the general concept of the advertisement aligns with gender roles in the 1950s in that woman tended to work at home while men went and made money at their job. This also lines up with the reality of gender roles in the 1950s as only about one in three women were in the labor force in 1950 (approximately 34% of women were engaged in the labor force in 1950).15 This proves that women were actually somewhat reliant on men in terms of money, which is what the advertisement is portraying. Last, the movie Cinderella accurately portrayed gender roles in the 1950s. Released in 1950, Cinderella

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