Society has had this concept of what women’s role in life should be since the beginning of time. For as long as anyone can remember, humanity expected women to stay at home, attend the men’s needs, and take care of household duties. Since society has evolved, women have more freedom, rights, and respect from others. However, there is still a small percentage who think women have a distinct place in life and shouldn’t drift from their “path”. In Twin Peaks and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, women were treated as if they were irrelevant and melodramatic.
America in the 19th century was, as for most of its history, divided sharply between rural and urban environments. Women on farms in Indiana and working in factories in the cities were expected to behave in fairly different manners. But while there lives were different, the struggle for equality became important for both. For so many women in history, being equal was something of value and of importance to them, but every time “equality” was brought up, it was just ignored.
Looking in from the outside, the journey of Women’s rights was a lengthy one, and it has come a significant way from what it began as. It was a long road to freedom that started with just a few women protesting together for change in the mid 1800’s to the large movement it is today. What started only as an effort to put women on equal footing with men in the voting realm blossomed into a full on fight against gender norms and independence through protesting, speeches, and gatherings. Gender norms or ‘roles’ are (as defined by Webster’s dictionary) “a set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex” and they are one thing that modern feminist have set their sights on to change for the better. Traditional gender roles have continued to exist for hundreds of years through perpetrators such as religion, government and society, and its effects have been felt by every woman, whether they realize it or not.
Gender roles are becoming a thing of the past. Today, more and more people are ignoring the ancient order of gender roles. Women are becoming doctors and men are getting their nails done. There is no question that things have been changing drastically in the past years. Gender roles in the past are much different from the new gender roles that are forming.
Throughout decades the roles of women in society constantly evolves. However, society continues to limit the natural progression of women, who want more for themselves. In “Why Women Smile” by Amy Cunningham and in “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, both discuss how the majority of time, women are always expected to act on the role given to them by society. Due to these notions that are set by society, the social roles of women have not progressed to their full potential.
The 1960s clearly illustrated gender formation for women. At this time, the master narrative contained ideologies which described what an ideal woman was. One part of the ideology for women was how women were suppose to look. Beauty standards set up by men were to be conformed to, otherwise a woman who did not conform would be seen as undesirable. Thus, a restriction is placed on something simple as appearance.
In the recent years there has been a greater amount of attention brought to the gender roles in america. This is prevalent in many different forms in are society including advertisements and articles. In the Article “The men America left behind” by Kirsten Weir we take a look at many roles that men take on compared to the women in are current american society. These attributes are often the effects of women finding these characteristics attractive in men. We will notice the effects that these rolls have on men including stress and disconnection that men may feel.
In America mostly men were the ones, who worked as advertisers in the time before 1950. The majority of costumers, however, were female. So the role of men was being advertisers while the one of women were being costumers. In the 1970s women began to play a more active role in advertising and to hold more important jobs in the advertising industry.
The 1950’s introduced a new generation that had a significant impact on mainly the middle class. New jobs and an economic boost allowed for sixty percent of America to be middle class. The post-war dream created a new suburban life and the hope for a healthy family. The G.I. bill granted low-interest mortgages which made it easy for families to purchase new homes. New homes would be essential for the large increase in children born known as the “Baby Boom”.
During the 1950s, women were highly encouraged to stay at home to focus and care for their families. Women were more like restricted to stay at home and become a “housewife-mother” (Feminine Mystique, 1963). They had no freedom to do anything else other then care for their families; whereas, the husbands could do just about anything they want. Husbands can go to saloons and get flat out drunk, but they are still the head of the house. During the 50s, women felt like they had no purpose in life.