Connie struggles throughout the film with her own body image. Due to her lack of self-esteem, she has trouble defending her self-respect to her peers and in relationships with men.
education “Wellesley girls who are married have become quite adept at balancing their obligations. One hears such comments, as - I'm able to baste the chicken with one hand and outline the paper with the other.” -Betty Warren; student in Mona Lisa Smile
Women were not expected to attend graduate school
Student, Joan, exhibited ambition to go to law school. When Ms. Watson asked her which law school she would like to attend, she deflected her response by saying “I’m getting married.”
While Joan had an interest in furthering her education, she could not overcome the societal pressures impressed upon her to choose marriage.
“What will future scholars see when they study us, a portrait of women today? There you are ladies: the perfect likeness of a Wellesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude, doing exactly what she was trained to do. Slide - a Rhodes Scholar, I wonder if she recites Chaucer while she presses her husband's shirts. Slide - hehe, now you physics majors can calculate the mass and volume of every meatloaf you make.” -Katherine Watson; Art history Professor in Mona Lisa Smile EDUCATION 3
Newspaper and magazines articles encouraged women to return to the home after the war
Betty’s story shows the negative consequences for women who often felt that they had no other choice for the direction of their lives. She tries to succeed in the “role she was born to fill” at the cost of her personal happiness, dignity, and self-respect. In spite of her husband’s infidelity, Betty suffered and attempted to maintain the façade of the perfect housewife.
Lesbian nurse, Amanda Armstrong
A longtime employee at Wellesley; grieving the death of her partner
gets dismissed by the college for providing contraception to students
Her sexuality is an open secret known by school staff and administration alike
Never jeopardized her career because it was never officially made public
This is a relatively accurate reflection of the environment at Wellesley and other colleges like it in the 50's, which tended to harbor progressive-thinkers but had to conceal that fact or risk jeopardizing enrollment.
Watson directly addresses the role of what women are “trained” to do.
She presents the class with media propaganda popular in the 1950s.
The slides were ads featuring women vacuuming while reading a book, measuring for an ironing board, and a girdle; “A girdle to set you free – what does that mean?!” Ms. Watson exclaimed.
Watson confronted the direct oppression placed by the media on women.
Her quote was right on in pinpointing the problem with society.