The cold war era had been marked in the United States as a period of social turmoil. The main social issues were highly centered around gender roles and mainly women’s roles. The role of American women post-war era was incredibly critical and controversial.
The idea of “domestic containment”, derived from the containment policy under the Truman Doctrine, concerned women and their position in American society. Women were pressured to stay in their houses and perform their “domestic duties”. The conservative anti-communist ideas about women justify that the vitality of women’s role as housewives and mothers can emphasize family values and stability. Their role does affect not only their families but also the American society and way of life.
The article “Wives, Mothers, and Red menaces” by Brennan brought up the concept of “Momism” which was the anti-communist psychological justification that mothers are primarily responsible for preventing their children from developing a weak and passive personality. Thus, a mother is relatively in charge of protecting her children from the threat imposed by communists and homosexuals. Anticommunist activists had already made it common knowledge that homosexuality is a result of vulnerability and weakness such as communism. They have also acknowledged that they both can be contagious.
Even single women were targeted as a threat to the moral fiber of the nation and a primary cause of moral decay. The Wives should guarantee that their husbands reach sexual fulfillment so they are not tempted by external threats such as pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, or communist views. Married women who fail to preserve their families can lead their husbands to communist subversion.
The article also points out that “marriage” can prevent “the communist takeover of society”. These Conservative ideas are used by anticommunists as a tactic to target women and assert further pressure on them. They also advocate for strengthening “American masculinity” in face of homosexuals and communists.
There are many women in American history that were subject to these discriminatory anticommunist views. Anna Pauker, who is the foreign minister of Rumania, is depicted by the Time’s editors as “the most powerful woman alive”. She was portrayed by the anti-communists as having a masculine nature to emphasize their belief that communism defeminizes women. They also imply that strong political female figures are generally cruel and cold. Anna’s personality is compared to the fierce characteristics of “American masculinity”. This idea is also brought up by the idea that women should perform their “proper roles” as “homemakers”. Therefore, they should be kept away from the anti-communist cause. Jean Kerr, an example of an anti-communist American activist, whose engagement in the “public sphere” made her fail to fulfill her family and her husband’s needs as portrayed by other anti-communist males. The rumors that spread concerning her husband Senator McCarthy’s sexuality were blamed on her powerful political position. The case of Muriel Draper, an American woman, can emphasize how women’s roles were relatively limited to preserving the family only. Her incapability of keeping her marriage made her and her family members exposed to the threats of communism.
It is kind of obvious that some discriminatory practices either against women or homosexuals are justified on political ends. The anti-communist would take advantage of these minorities and target them under the name of fighting the communist crusade.