In the 1950s and 1960s the idea of the nuclear family and the female being the homemaker was emphasized. During the war, women entered the workforce and took over the roles that were male dominated. However after the war ended, men wanted women to go back to the household. For many women, being a housewife was something they were proud of, but for others they felt that they were missing out on something. Betty Friedan describes this feeling of unfullment in her book The Feminine Mystique. The book gained much attention and it helped spark the feminist movement. The feminist movement went against the idea of the nuclear family and domestic containment, and it caused many men and even some women to protest against it. Literature also transformed during this time, and novels, movies, magazines etc., began to focus on issues that were not discussed before. From Playboy bunnies to the novel Peyton Place, sex and gender became a topic that the middle class did not want to discuss. Many would argue that if a person cared about their country, they should believe that women “were submissive to their husbands” (Brennan, 116) and “anticommunists warned that free love instead of marriage would follow a communist takeover of society” (Brennan, 116). Men did not understand why women were suddenly wanting to get out of their role of homemakers, and believed that if women were to leave that position that they would be more likely to fall to communism.
Muriel Draper and Anna Pauker are primary examples of women breaking the traditional role of housewives and leaned towards communism. Pauker was an intelligent women and defined the gender roles by leaving her children in a state run home to pursue her ambitions. Draper did not have a husband or children to care for and many would believed that if she had a family or children that she would not have fallen to communism. Anticommunists would argue that “communism turned women such as Pauker and Draper into manly, unfeminine women” (Brennan, 125) because they went against the gender norms. While Draper and Pauker were women who were not afraid of going against the traditional gender roles, other women such as Jean Kerr walked a fine line between politics and the role of being a wife and mother. Kerr played the role of being submissive to McCarthy and advocated against communism. Kerr is an example of a woman who had a career other than being a housewife, however, I believe that if she did have other activities such as taking care of her children or her husband that people would have started rumors that she was a communist. I believe this because she was an intelligent woman and was involved in politics and I feel some men probably would have felt almost threatened by her. Overall, the idea of the nuclear family and gender roles played a huge role in society, and if a woman defied the gender norms it was suspected that they would fall to communism.