Week 5 Blog Post

The idea of domestic containment gained adherents during the 1950s for several reasons. The end of World War II brought about a desire for stability and normalcy after years of turmoil and uncertainty. The traditional nuclear family with a male breadwinner and female homemaker was seen as a way to achieve this stability and provide a sense of security for families. Next the rise of the Cold War and the fear of communism led many Americans to believe that the traditional family structure was necessary to protect American values and prevent the spread of communist ideology. The idea was that a strong, traditional family unit would create a sense of moral and social stability that would make it less likely for individuals to be attracted to communist ideas. Then the post-war era saw a shift in the American economy from wartime production to consumerism, which fueled a desire for material prosperity and a suburban lifestyle. The ideal of the nuclear family with a suburban home and white picket fence became the symbol of the American dream, and the domestic containment ideology reinforced this ideal. Lastly, the 1950s was also a time of significant gender role consolidation, where men were expected to work outside the home and provide for their families, while women were expected to stay at home and focus on domestic duties. The domestic containment ideology reinforced these gender roles and discouraged women from seeking careers outside the home. 

Anna Pauker, Muriel Draper, Jean Kerr, Margaret Chase Smith, and Doloris Bridges were all women who faced gendered beliefs and biases that were used against them in various ways.Anna Pauker was a Romanian communist and the first woman to hold a high-ranking position in a communist government. She faced criticism and suspicion in the United States during the early Cold War period because of her gender and political beliefs. Pauker was accused of being a “Red Queen” who used her femininity to manipulate men and advance her political agenda. Muriel Draper was a wealthy socialite and patron of the arts who was accused of being a communist sympathizer in the 1950s. Her activism and support for progressive causes were seen as unbecoming for a woman of her social status, and she was accused of using her wealth and connections to spread communist propaganda. Jean Kerr was a successful playwright and author who faced criticism and backlash for writing about the challenges of balancing a career and family life. Her work was dismissed as frivolous and unimportant, and she was accused of neglecting her duties as a wife and mother by pursuing her career. Margaret Chase Smith was a Republican senator from Maine who was the first woman to be elected to both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Despite her accomplishments, Smith faced gendered criticism and bias throughout her career, with her opponents often questioning her fitness for office because of her gender. Doloris Bridges was an African American woman who was the first female firefighter in the Los Angeles Fire Department. She faced discrimination and harassment from her male colleagues, who saw her as an outsider because of her gender and race. Bridges was also accused of being weak and incapable of performing the physical tasks required of a firefighter because of her gender and race.

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