Gender Roles during the 1950s

During the early 1950s to late 1960s, the United States experienced a shift in culture. With the rise in marriage and birth rates, the United States experienced a change in Gender roles once again. Gone were the days of independence and women who worked, their roles shifted back towards more conservative tasks such as being good housewives and tending to their children. With the economic boom of post World War Two America, women were not needed in the workplace unlike during the Great Depression and the war. Many new wives were taught to tend for their family and to please their husbands and were not encouraged to go out and work. Men returned to their roles as well, spending all day at a monotonous job and returning home only to repeat the cycle the very next day. These new roles went hand in hand with the United States attempting to create a “classless” society. Where Socialist ideals are formed off the idea of social classes, the United States wanted to eliminate social classes in order to prevent the spread of Communism.

However, Americans did not want to conform to this monotonous society. A new sexually active movement swept the United States, led by Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. The United States government also attempted to purge homosexuals, however the constant mention of homosexuality in the American public made people become more open to Homosexuality. Phillip Wylie coined the term “momism” in his book Generation of Vipers where he stated that, the American male was losing his masculinity repeating the same task over and over again. This in turn, would cause these men to give up their masculinity and become more open to homosexuality and turning to socialist methods just to escape their monotonous lives. Women as well were more susceptible for these ideals as well. Tired of living in their homes and only providing for their families, they felt as if, they could not provide for themselves. Many Male anticommunists believed that women could not fill their role in the labor force because they were seen as too emotional and were not looked at as working class citizens. The idea of protecting the women from the harsh environment of the factories and workplaces prevented them from stepping outside the confines of the American household. However this prevention would limit their freedoms and would soon cause the Women of America to actively protest the government. These protests would cause massive amounts of social change in the coming decades for all Americans.

While Gender Roles still exist today, they are far more neutral compared to those that existed in the Cold War United States, gender roles still play a role in what sports we put our kids in, what we wear, what is socially acceptable for both women and men. What jobs are considered masculine and which are considered feminine. While women are encouraged to work, they are not as favored as men are due to many of these gender roles still playing a part in todays society.

One thought on “Gender Roles during the 1950s

  1. You have brought up very interesting points. It is important to link this social upheaval that revolved around gender norms under the communism sweep to current-day America. I think these events have motivated women to demand for their rights and equality. Today, in the United States, despite the fact it has established equality between the sexes, we can still see those same stereotypical views about women. Women are still considered a marginalized minority and are denied equal access to jobs.


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