Women in ContextYear 11 Booklet      2012                   1
The FiftiesBetty Friedans The Feminine Mystique became a bestseller in 1963. She arguedthat in the postwar period, rigid g...
Homophobia was apparent in the glorification of the "nuclear" family and inthe campaigns against lesbians and gays that li...
The action is aptly set in New Orleans (also known as “The Big Easy”) in theyears shortly after World War II. Blanche DuBo...
Stanley reveals Blanche’s true past to Mitch, who rejects Blanche as being afallen woman and unworthy to bring home to his...
One of his closest friends when he was at the University of Missouri wasHarold Mitchell. Tennessee was also very close to ...
for Blanche and the illusions she cherishes. He is a controlling anddomineering man; he demands subservience from his wife...
A Streetcar Named Desire                               Main ThemesFantasy/Illusion: Blanche dwells in illusion; fantasy is...
Loneliness: The companion theme to desire; between these two extremes,Blanche is lost. She desperately seeks companionship...
ostensible infiltration by Communists tore the industry apart. It was adismayingly uncertain world, and it even nurtured i...
into the hands of Martin Quigley, an informal but powerful intermediarybetween the film industry and the Catholic Legion o...
and non-support of families a felony and three states instituted the whippingpost where wife-beaters were punished with fl...
The late 1940s and 1950s witnessed a sharp reaction to the stresses of theDepression and war. If any decade has come to sy...
higher than in the past, fewer families suffer from the death of a parent or achild. Infants were four times more likely t...
Portrayal of Women 1970   1. "A Womans place is in the home." Even though there were 29 million      women in the labour f...
I Am Woman – Helen Reddy               Words and Music by Helen Reddy and Ray BurtonThis song became the “anthem” of the w...
Changing Verses Tell Tale in Song            Musical Study Shows Women’s Progression                                      ...
By the late 1980s, other themes such as inner strength and self-direction entered the top 40in songs such as Whitney Houst...
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Women in Context Booklet 2012

  1. 1. Women in ContextYear 11 Booklet 2012 1
  2. 2. The FiftiesBetty Friedans The Feminine Mystique became a bestseller in 1963. She arguedthat in the postwar period, rigid gender norms restricted middle-class,suburban white womens options and aspirations to full-time wifedom andmotherhood. The roles of women were contradictory: more middle-classwhite women than ever before had opportunities for education, work, andautonomy, but the culture punished the women who pursued them.Discrimination, scorn, and characterizations of professional women as oldmaids, unfeminine, or negligent mothers, functioned to keep women in thehome, literally and psychologically.The 1950s are best known as a time of prosperity and optimism; obsessiveanticommunism, which led to the cold war; narrow gender expectations forwomen; and a glorification of the "normal" nuclear family. In fact the 1950sare an aberrant decade in the twentieth century in that after the GreatDepression and World War II, most Americans wanted to settle down. Thenumber of young people who married rose precipitously; age at the time ofmarriage and childbearing dropped; and the birthrate increased significantly,a trend termed the baby boom. Premarital virginity for white women andtraditionally male-dominant heterosexual families (with men as thebreadwinner and head of the household and women at home) wereuniversally promoted. Institutions and goods expanded rapidly in postwarAmerica: corporations; the military; advertising and media; suburbs;highways; and consumerism and consumer products, particularly housing,automobiles, household appliances, and televisions. The decade is oftenremembered fondly as a time of abundance, optimism, and safety.At the same time currents of discontent and anxiety arose. Black people,especially in the South, were angry and the national struggle for civil rightsintensified. The 1950s are punctuated with important race-related events,such as the 1954 Supreme Court decision against segregated schools, theMontgomery Bus Boycott, the Emmett Till case, and the Little Rock CentralHigh School integration struggle. Many of the heroes of these events wereBlack women.Black music (and its imitators) was popular among teenagers, who formed ademographic category unto themselves, especially from a market perspective.Thousands of teenagers had money and time to spend on records, magazines,clothes, and makeup—they created a new youth culture. Parents worriedabout losing control of young people, most visible in the national concernover juvenile delinquency. The Beat writers, known for their rejection ofmainstream American values and their embrace of bohemian existence,attracted many young whites. 2
  3. 3. Homophobia was apparent in the glorification of the "nuclear" family and inthe campaigns against lesbians and gays that linked them to crime andcommunist activities. In addition, anxiety over the atom bomb and nuclearwar permeated the culture.Unknown to most suburban whites, there were many poor people in thiscountry. In fact the United States was deeply divided by race and class, arealization that galvanized young Blacks and whites in the 1960s. The citieswere becoming underfunded sites of Black and Latino/Latina neighborhoodsas whites moved to the segregated suburbs. The migration of Blacks out of theSouth, and the influx of people from Puerto Rico and Mexico into the UnitedStates, changed racial and ethnic urban demographics. For Native Americanwomen and communities, the 1950s saw the emergence of two very damagingfederal policies—the era of termination of tribal life and the Bureau of IndianAffairs (BIA) Relocation Program. These policies were designed to"mainstream" Native Americans so they could be "just like everyone else" inthe 1950s. The policies added to Native American urban migration. In contrastto the upward mobility of many white women, women of color struggled tosurvive.The 1950s were a paradoxical time, then, when American society seemedstable and contained. Underneath the facade, however, African Americansand other people of color, youth, women, lesbians, and gays were gatheringforce to expose its contradictions. - Wini Breines A Streetcar Named Desire It is believed that Tennessee Williams expressed much of his troubled childhood through his plays and other writings. His first commercially successful play was A Glass Menagerie. A Streetcar Named Desire was the next play to be written. The play depicts all types of desire between human beings, culminating in betrayal, revenge, and madness. This 1951 movie, directed by Elia Kazan, is very faithfully adapted from the play. The all-star cast includes Marlon Brando asStanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as his wife Stella, Vivien Leigh as Stella’s sisterBlanche DuBois, and Karl Malden as Harold Mitchell (Mitch), a friend andpoker buddy of Stanley’s. 3
  4. 4. The action is aptly set in New Orleans (also known as “The Big Easy”) in theyears shortly after World War II. Blanche DuBois, a neurotic, rather frailwoman, brought up to be a genteel Southern lady, was raised with her sisteron Belle Reve (Beautiful Dream), the ancestral plantation in Laurel,Mississippi. Due to debaucheries of her father and his predecessors, and herown weaknesses, Blanche has lost Belle Reve.Blanche was married at a young age to an equally young man who wasbattling with his homosexuality and who committed suicide. Blanche relivesthis scene frequently, hearing in her mind the polka being played at the danceclub to which she and her husband had gone, and where she brutally rejectedhim on the dance floor, and then replaying in her mind the shot she heard ashe killed himself just afterward, after rushing off the dance floor.Blanche tries to support herself by teaching English but cannot maintain BelleReve on the salary. She also is attracted to young men and is ultimatelydischarged from her teaching position after being caught in a liaison with a17-year old student. She then attempts to support herself and to satisfy aproblem with nymphomania through prostitution. She is kicked out of thehotel where she was plying her trade.Desperate for a place to stay, she arrives in New Orleans and takes thestreetcar (named Desire) to seek refuge with her sister Stella, recently marriedto a factory worker, Stanley. Blanche is shocked and repelled by the slum areain which they live, and simultaneously attracted and repelled by her workingclass brother-in-law, who projects raw, muscle-bound sexuality.Blanche and Stanley are at odds from the start, she considering herself andher sister to be superior to him by education and breeding, he finding herpretentious and vapid. She is also beginning to teeter on the edge of madness.Stella is caught in the middle, wanting to be loyal to both her frail sister andher husband, who abuses her upon occasion but also holds her in sexualthrall. Stella is also pregnant, which she initially conceals from Blanche,knowing that this would upset her and add to her increasing frailty. Stanleyreveals Stella’s pregnancy during one of the confrontations with Blanche.Stanley regularly plays poker, and one of his poker buddies is HaroldMitchell (Mitch), a no longer young man who lives with and supports hisdying mother. Mitch is attracted by Blanche’s air of breeding and apparentpurity. He also does not realize that Blanche, at some indeterminate age past30, is no longer of “marriageable age”, which she conceals by refusing to beseen in well-lighted circumstances. They begin to date and he considersmarriage. Blanche is somewhat attracted to him as well, but also sees him asan escape from the intolerable situation of sharing a tawdry two-roomapartment with her sister and crude brother-in-law. 4
  5. 5. Stanley reveals Blanche’s true past to Mitch, who rejects Blanche as being afallen woman and unworthy to bring home to his mother, in a brutal scenewhere he kisses her violently and disrespectfully.In the next scene, Stella goes into labour and insists on going to the hospital.Stanley leaves her there, and comes home. He and Blanche are alone for thefirst time. He rapes Blanche, presumably to celebrate his impendingfatherhood and to use his superior strength to overcome this woman who hasbeen putting him down and attempting to separate his wife (property) fromhim since living with them.Blanche’s already tenuous grasp of reality cannot survive the rape and thefact that her sister, unable to face a life with a newborn babe, independent ofthe man whom she both loves and hates, refuses to admit the rape. Blanche isput into an institution. Stanley sees himself as having triumphed, but in themovie Stella leaves him, although in the play she returns to him, unable toresist the dark sexual urges he releases in her.The final scene shows Blanche being taken from the apartment to theinstitution. An elderly doctor offers her his arm in escort, and her last wordsare “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”.A Streetcar named Desire depicts all types of desire and love, mostly in aperverse way. Husband-wife, but in a dominance-submission relationship.Implications that Blanche was abused by her father. Nymphomania,prostitution, homosexuality. Excess attachment to mother by Mitch.In addition, there is the psychopathology of Blanche’s descent into madness.But there is a sort of redemption in the action of the kindly old physicianoffering his arm and solace.Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911 in Columbus,Mississippi. He took the name Tennessee (his father’s birthstate), when hemoved to New Orleans in 1938.His father, a shoe salesman for the International Shoe Company, was a rigidand domineering person who put Williams down for his literary aspirationsand talent and who forced him to leave the University of Missouri beforecompleting his degree in playwriting, to work in the shoe factory. His motherwas the daughter of a minister. Both parents fought frequently and bitterly.His sister, Rose, suffered lifelong depression, as did Tennessee. Rose wasinstitutionalised and lobotomised. She is considered to be reflected in many ofTennessee’s female characters, including Blanche. He also had a brother,Dakin, who was his father’s favourite and who apparently possessed themanly attributes desired by his father, unlike Tennessee, who in addition towishing to pursue an “unmanly” career, was also a homosexual. 5
  6. 6. One of his closest friends when he was at the University of Missouri wasHarold Mitchell. Tennessee was also very close to Harold’s wife. Whileworking at the shoe factory, Tennessee met a working class young man whoseemed virile, sure of himself, and popular with men and women alike,named Stanley Kowalski.Tennessee also reportedly had a love-hate relationship with physicians.Physicians figure in several of his plays and other works, usually ascharacters uselessly trying to save the lives of other characters. He alsobelieved, as reported in his Memoirs, that at least one physician tried to killhim.Gore Vidal, a close friend, said that Williams drank and took prescriptions todeal with his problems, becoming hooked on amphetamines prescribed byone doctor. A psychiatrist attempted to persuade him to give up both writingand sex.He was a prolific writer, with sixty plays, and many screenplays to his credit,two novels, a novella, more than 100 poems, and an autobiography. He diedin 1983, choking to death on a bottle cap. CharactersBlanche Dubois: No longer a young girl in her twenties, Blanche Dubois hassuffered through the deaths of all of her loved ones, save Stella, and the lossof her old way of life. When Blanche was a teenager, she married a young boywhom she worshipped; the boy turned out to be depressive and homosexual,and not long after their marriage he committed suicide. While Stella left BelleReve, the Dubois ancestral home, to try and make her own life, Blanchestayed behind and cared for a generation of dying relatives. She saw thedeaths of the elder generation and the end of the Dubois family fortune. Inher grief, Blanche looked for comfort in amorous encounters with near-strangers. Eventually, her reputation ruined and her job lost, she was forcedto leave the town of Laurel. She has come to the Kowalski apartment seekingprotection and shelter.Stella Kowalski: Blanches younger sister. About twenty-five years old andpregnant with her first child, Stella has made a new life for herself in NewOrleans. She is madly in love with her husband Stanley; their relationship isin part founded on the most direct and primitive kind of desire. She is close toBlanche, but in the end she will betray her sister horribly by refusing tobelieve the truth.Stanley Kowalski: Stellas husband. A man of solid, blue-colour stock,Stanley Kowalski is direct, passionate, and often violent. He has no patience 6
  7. 7. for Blanche and the illusions she cherishes. He is a controlling anddomineering man; he demands subservience from his wife and feels that hisauthority is threatened by Blanches arrival. He proves that he can be cold andcalculating; in the end, he moves mercilessly to ensure Blanches destruction.Harold "Mitch" Mitchell: One of Stanleys friends. Mitch is as tough and"unrefined" as Stanley. He is an imposing physical specimen, massively builtand powerful, but he is also a deeply sensitive and compassionate man. Hismother is dying, and this impending loss affects him profoundly. He isattracted to Blanche from the start, and Blanche hopes that he will ask her tomarry him. In the end, these hopes are dashed by Stanleys interference.Eunice Hubbel: The owner of the apartment building, and Steves wife. She isgenerally helpful, giving Stella and Blanche shelter after Stanley beats Stella.In the end, she advises Stella that in spite of Blanches tragedy, life has to goon. In effect, she is advising Stella not to look too hard for the truth.Steve Hubbel: Eunice’s husband. Owner of the apartment building. One ofthe poker players. Steve has the finally line of the play. As Blanche is cartedoff to the asylum, he coldly deals another hand.Pablo Gonzales: One of the poker players. He punctuates the poker gameswith dashes of Spanish.Negro Woman: The Negro Woman seems to be one of the non-naturalisticcharacters; it seems that the actor playing this role is in fact playing a numberof different Negro women, all minor characters. Emphasizing the non-naturalistic aspect of the character, in the original production of Streetcar, the"Negro Woman" was played by a male actor.A Strange Man (The Doctor): The Doctor arrives at the end to bring Blancheon her "vacation." After the Nurse has pinned her, the Doctor succeeds incalming Blanche. She latches onto him, depending, now and always, "on thekindness of strangers."A Strange Woman (The Nurse): The Nurse is a brutal and impersonalcharacter, institutional and severe in an almost stylised fashion. She wrestlesBlanche to the ground.A Young Collector: The Young Collector comes to collect money for thepaper. Blanche throws herself at him shamelessly.A Mexican Woman: Sells flowers for the dead. She sells these flowers duringthe powerful scene when Blanche recounts her fall(s) from grace. 7
  8. 8. A Streetcar Named Desire Main ThemesFantasy/Illusion: Blanche dwells in illusion; fantasy is her primary means ofself-defence. Her deceits do not carry any trace of malice; rather, they comefrom her weakness and inability to confront the truth head-on. She tells thingsnot as they are, but as they ought to be. For her, fantasy has a liberating magicthat protects her from the tragedies she has had to endure. Unfortunately, thisdefence is frail and will be shattered by Stanley. In the end, Stanley and Stellawill also resort to a kind of illusion: Stella will force herself to believe thatBlanches accusations against Stanley are false.The Old South and the New South: Stella and Blanche come from a worldthat is rapidly dying. Belle Reve, their familys ancestral plantation, has beenlost. The two sisters, symbolically, are the last living members of their family.Stella will mingle her blood with a man of blue-collar stock, and Blanche willenter the world of madness. Stanley represents the new order of the South:chivalry is dead, replaced by a "rat race," to which Stanley makes severalproud illusions.Cruelty: The only unforgivable crime, according to Blanche, is deliberatecruelty. This sin is Stanleys specialty. His final assault against Blanche is amerciless attack against an already-beaten foe. On the other hand, thoughBlanche is dishonest, she never lies out of malice. Her cruelty is unintentional;often, she lies in a vain effort to please. Throughout Streetcar, we see the fullrange of cruelty, from Blanches well-intentioned deceits to Stella self-deceiving treachery to Stanleys deliberate and unchecked malice. In Williamsplays, there are many ways to hurt someone. And some are worse thanothers.The Primitive and the Primal: Blanche often speaks of Stanley as ape-like andprimitive. Stanley represents a very unrefined manhood, a romantic idea ofman untouched by civilization and its effeminising influences. His appeal isclear: Stella cannot resist him, and even Blanche, though repulsed, is on somelevel drawn to him. Stanleys unrefined nature also includes a terrifyingamorality. The service of his desire is central to who he is; he has no qualmsabout driving his sister-in-law to madness, or raping her.Desire: Closely related to the theme above, desire is the central theme of theplay. Blanche seeks to deny it, although we learn later in the play that desireis one of her driving motivations; her desires have caused her to be driven outof town. Desire, and not intellectual or spiritual intimacy, is the heart ofStella’s and Stanleys relationship. Desire is Blanches undoing, because shecannot find a healthy way of dealing with it: she is always either trying tosuppress it or pursuing it with abandon. 8
  9. 9. Loneliness: The companion theme to desire; between these two extremes,Blanche is lost. She desperately seeks companionship and protection in thearms of strangers. And she has never recovered from her tragic andconsuming love for her first husband. Blanche is in need of a defender. But inNew Orleans, she will find instead the predatory and merciless Stanley. A Streetcar Named Desire The Film (United States, 1951, 122 minutes, b&w, 16mm) Directed by Elia Kazan Cast: Marlon Brando . . . . . . . . . . Stanley Kowalski Kim Hunter . . . . . . . . . .Stella Kowalski Vivien Leigh . . . . . . . . . . Blanche Dubois Karl Malden . . . . . . . . . . Harold Mitch MitchellWhen Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway inDecember 1947, the American theatre was forever changed. But whereBroadway saw a revolutionary form of intimate drama, the Hollywood filmstudios saw what they liked to see - money. Streetcars popularity as a stageproduction, and, more important, its instant notoriety as a major event inAmerican culture, gave promise of a feast at the box office. And yet,Hollywood couldnt help feeling schizophrenic about the prospect ofadapting Streetcar to the screen.The drama of A Streetcar Named Desire rests on a bedrock of distinctlyAmerican sexual and social decadence. In the years 1945-1950, Hollywoodwas struggling with the question of how it really felt about the AmericanDream. Could it still endorse the Main Street world of Andy Hardys Carmel,or fantasies like The Wizard of Oz, where troubles seemed to melt like lemondrops? Or, had the war invalidated Hollywoods late 1930s optimism withhorrible truths about the dark capabilities of the human soul, with Auschwitzand Nanking and Katyn and the Chancellory Bunker?Those five years after World War II saw the ground under Hollywood shift.The ever-climbing audience graph for Hollywood films stalled in 1946, andthen headed rapidly downward, as television purchases grew exponentially.In 1947, the first of two tides of Congressional investigations into Hollywoods 9
  10. 10. ostensible infiltration by Communists tore the industry apart. It was adismayingly uncertain world, and it even nurtured its own film genre: thefilm noir, stories of murderous deceit, lust, and criminality told in suitablydark, expressionist visual terms.A Streetcar Named Desire enfolded all the anxieties of the era in its story ofperverse gentility colliding with the earthy truths of the working class. Mostemblematic of these was sex, for Streetcar is not about "sexuality" - it is aboutsex. Hollywoods Breen Office, charged by the studios with policing theirprojects for what we now call "family values," let it be known that Streetcar, nomatter how potentially profitable, would be the diciest of properties to adaptto the screen. In choosing to make Streetcar against its own best wishes,Hollywood would be affirming its adulthood, and acknowledging itsresponsibility to portray society with warts intact. The story of StanleyKowalskis brutal conquest of brittle, tragic Blanche Dubois was a test to seewhether Hollywood had grown up with its audience.And so it was that the Hollywood studios struggled for three years withStreetcar, and the nations great theatrical hit remained stalled in the pipeline.Finally, in April of 1950, a first draft of a screenplay was ready; independentproducer Charles Feldman was producing the film for Warner Brothers. Still,the Breen Office fretted. The story still turned on rape, and the playsintimation of homosexuality remained prominent, and Blanche still seemedvaguely nymphomaniacal. Director Elia Kazan watered down Blancheslustful past and the remembered homosexuality of her first husband, but hewas adamant on Stanleys rape of Blanche. As Tennessee Williams put iteloquently in a letter to the Breen Office, any further changes would be crass,because A Streetcar Named Desire was already "an extremely and peculiarlymoral play, in the deepest and truest sense of the word." Williams announcedto Breen that he and director Elia Kazan would stand for no changes thattampered with the fact of Stanleys rape of Blanche, warning Breen that thesimplistic moralizing of prewar Hollywood was hypocritical in the wake ofnew realities:The rape of Blanche by Stanley is a pivotal, integral truth in the play, withoutwhich the play loses its meaning, which is the ravishment of the tender, thesensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society. It isa poetic plea for comprehension…In the end, the Breen Office capitulated. Geoffrey Shurlock, later to be head ofthe Breens Production Code office, remembered, "For the first time we wereconfronted with a picture that was obviously not family entertainment…Streetcar broke the barrier… [and] made us think things through… It beganwith Streetcar."The old order waged a rearguard action, however. According to film historianRudy Behlmers exceptional recounting of Streetcars production, the film got 10
  11. 11. into the hands of Martin Quigley, an informal but powerful intermediarybetween the film industry and the Catholic Legion of Decency, a religious"watchdog group" which had its own parallel censorship regime to that of theBreen Office. A "C" (for "condemned") rating from the Legion of Decencycould, it was believed, ruin a film at the box office, for Catholics would beurged not to see the film. Without consulting Williams or Kazan, WarnerBrothers ordered an editor to trim three or four minutes of footage fromvarious parts of the film, 12 cuts in all, including a crucial passage of musicwhich underscores the erotic nature of Stanleys hold over the women of thestory, and an exchange of glances between Stanley and his wife, Stella. Theeffect was to imply a kind of punishment for the act of rape which is central tothe plot. Kazan was bitter as he went on to his next project, Viva Zapata! atTwentieth Century-Fox. The cuts, he said, were "directly opposed toTennessee Williams thought. All his characters are a mixture of the qualitieswe label `good and `bad, and that is their humanity…"Still, everyone involved understood that a corner had been turned in thehistory of censorship. In the next decade a flood of intelligent foreign filmsfrom France, Sweden, and Italy would confirm Streetcars complex picture ofmorality. Hollywood would return to Williams work again and again, eachtime with a growing willingness to let his beautifully jaundiced view of thehuman condition express itself. There followed films like The Rose Tattoo andThe Fugitive Kind, and notoriously, Baby Doll, where the Legion of Decencywould at last be vanquished.Finally, Williams and Kazan would have their revenge, though Williamswould not live to see it. Those short but telling cuts in A Streetcar Named Desirecooked up to satisfy a powerful censorship agency have been restored, and AStreetcar Named Desire now speaks as eloquently about human frailty andpassion as it did more than fifty years ago. The censors are long dead, but agreat film lives. — Kevin Hagopian, Penn State UniversityExcerpt from: Does the American Family Have a History? Family Images and Realities Twentieth-Century FamiliesOver the past three centuries, Americans have gone through recurrent wavesof moral panic over the family. During the late nineteenth century, panicgripped the country over family violence and child neglect, declining middle-class birth rates, divorce, and infant mortality. Eleven states made desertion 11
  12. 12. and non-support of families a felony and three states instituted the whippingpost where wife-beaters were punished with floggings. To combat the declinein middle-class birth rates, the Comstock Act restricted the interstatedistribution of birth control information and contraceptive devices, whilestate laws criminalized abortion. In a failed attempt to reduce the divorce rate,many states reduced the grounds for divorce and extended waiting periods.Mounting public anxiety led to increased government involvement in thefamily and the emergence of distinct groups offering expert advice aboutchildrearing, parenting, and social policy. To combat the exploitation andimprove the well being of children, reformers pressed for compulsory schoolattendance laws, child labour restrictions, playgrounds, pure milk laws, and"widows" pensions to permit poor children to remain with their mothers.There were also concerted efforts to eliminate male-only forms of recreation,campaigns that achieved success with the destruction of red-light districtsduring the 1910s and of saloons following adoption of Prohibition in 1918.To strengthen and stabilize families, marriage counsellors promoted a newideal: the companionate family. It held that husbands and wives were to be"friends and lovers" and that parents and children should be "pals." This newideal stressed the couple relationship and family togetherness as the primarysource of emotional satisfaction and personal happiness. Privacy was ahallmark of the new family ideal. Unlike the nineteenth century family, whichtook in boarders, lodgers, or aging and unmarried relatives, the companionatefamily was envisioned as a more isolated, and more important, unit, theprimary focus of emotional life.During the Depression, unemployment, lower wages, and the demands ofneedy relatives tore at the fabric of family life. Many Americans were forcedto share living quarter with relatives, delay marriage, and postpone havingchildren. The divorce rate fell, since fewer people could afford one, butdesertions soared. By 1940, 1.5 million married couples were living apart.Many families coped by returning to a cooperative family economy. Manychildren took part time jobs and many wives supplemented the family incomeby taking in sewing or laundry, setting up parlor groceries, or housinglodgers.World War II also subjected families to severe strain. During the war, familiesfaced a severe shortage of housing, a lack of schools and child-care facilities,and prolonged separation from loved ones. Five million "war widows" rantheir homes and cared for children alone, while millions of older, marriedwomen went to work in war industries. The stresses of wartime contribute toan upsurge in the divorce rate. Tens of thousands of young people becamelatchkey children, and rates of juvenile delinquency, unwed pregnancy, andtruancy all rose. 12
  13. 13. The late 1940s and 1950s witnessed a sharp reaction to the stresses of theDepression and war. If any decade has come to symbolize the traditionalfamily, it is the 1950s. The average age of marriage for women dropped totwenty; divorce rates stabilized; and the birth rate doubled. Yet the images offamily life that appeared on television were misleading; only sixty percent ofchildren spent their childhood in a male-breadwinner, female homemakerhousehold. The democratisation of the family ideals reflected social andeconomic circumstances that are unlikely to be duplicated: a reaction againstDepression hardships and the upheavals of World War II; the affordability ofsingle-family track homes in the booming suburbs; and rapidly rising realincomes.The post-war family was envisioned not simply a haven in a heartless world,like the Victorian family, but as an alternative world of satisfaction andintimacy. But this family, like its Victorian counterpart, had its owncontradictions and latent tensions. Youthful marriages, especially amongwomen who cut short their education, contributed to a rising divorce rate inthe 1960s. The compression of childbearing into the first years of marriagemeant that many wives were free of the most intense childrearingresponsibilities by their early or mid-thirties. Combined with the ever risingcosts of maintaining a middle-class standard of living, this encouraged agrowing number of married women to enter the workplace; as early as 1960, athird of married middle-class women were working part- or full-time. Theexpansion of schooling, combined with growing affluence, contributed to theemergence of a separate youth culture, separate and apart from the family.The seeds of radical familial changes were planted in the 1950s.Contemporary FamiliesSince the 1960s, families have grown smaller, less stable, and more diverse. Atthe same time, more adults live outside a family, as single young adults,divorced singles, or as older people who have lost a spouse. As recently as1960, seventy percent of the households in the United States consisted of abreadwinner father, a homemaker mother, and two or more kids. Today, themale breadwinner, female homemaker family makes up only a smallproportion of American households. More common are two-earner families,where both the husband and wife work; single-parent families, usuallyheaded by a mother; reconstituted families, formed after a divorce; andempty-nest families, created after a children have left home. Declining birthand marriage rates, the rapid entry of married women into the work force, arising divorce rate, and an aging population all contributed to this domesticrevolution.Despite the changes that have taken place, the family is not a dyinginstitution. About ninety percent of Americans marry and bear children, andmost Americans who divorce eventually remarry. In many respects, familylife is actually stronger today than it was in the past. While divorce rates are 13
  14. 14. higher than in the past, fewer families suffer from the death of a parent or achild. Infants were four times more likely to die in the 1950s than today andolder children were three times more likely. Because of declining death rates,couples are more likely to grow into old age together than in the past andchildren are more likely to have living grandparents. Meanwhile, parents aremaking greater emotional and economic investment their children. Lowerbirth rates mean that parents can devote more attention and greater financialresources to each child. Fathers have become more actively involved in theirchildrearing.Nevertheless, the profound changes--such as the integration of marriedwomen into the paid labour force--have taken place in the late twentiethcentury resulted in a "crisis of caregiving." As the proportion of single parentand two-worker families has increased, many parents have found itincreasingly difficult to balance the demands of work and family life.Working parents not only had to care for their young children, but, because ofincreasing life spans, aging parents as well. In an attempt to deal with theseneeds, the United States adopted the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act,entitling eligible employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a twelve-month period for specified family and medicalreasons. Yet despite widespread rhetoric about promoting family values,many "reforms," such as welfare reform, weakened social supports forfamilies. Whether the early twenty-first century will witness a wave of family-related reforms comparable to the Progressive Era remains to be seen. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/familyhistory.cfm The Portrayal of Women in MagazinesOne of the earliest studies of womens portrayal in magazines wasundertaken by Courtney and Lockeretz (1971). This is what their researchconcluded:Portrayal of Women 1950 1. "Women as unemployed." Most women were shown in non-working roles and often at home. 2. "Women as low-income earners." Most working women were shown in secretarial, clerical, or blue collar positions. 3. "Non-working women in decorative roles and in idle situations." Often, the presence of women was not substantially related to the product advertised. 4. "Women have limited purchasing power." This reflects the observation that females were depicted as decision makers only for small-ticket items for the home. 14
  15. 15. Portrayal of Women 1970 1. "A Womans place is in the home." Even though there were 29 million women in the labour force at that time. 2. "Women do not make important decisions or do important things." Women were shown as independent only when inexpensive items or simple decisions were involved. 3. "Women are dependent and need mens protection." Women were generally isolated from their sex within the ads."Men regard women primarily as sexual objects: they are not interested inwomen as people." Women were often found in decorative roles having littlerelationship to the product (Courtney and Lockeretz, 1971) Sexist Advertisements How to see through the soft sellEveryone has seen blatantly offensive advertisements that portray women assexual toys or victims of violence. Such irresponsible advertising has rightlytouched off cries of protest and organized action. The following are some ofthe more subtle ways advertising reinforces cultural values of subservience, domination and inequality between the sexes. 1. Superiority. Three common tactics used to establish superiority are size, attention and positioning. 2. Dismemberment. Womens bodies are often dismembered and treated as separate parts, perpetuating the concept that a womans body is not connected to her mind and emotions. The hidden message: If a woman has great legs, who cares who she is? 3. Clowning. Shown alone in ads, men are often portrayed as secure, powerful and serious. By contrast, women are pictured as playful clowns, perpetuating the attitude that women are childish and cannot be taken seriously. 4. Canting. People in control of their lives stand upright, alert and ready to meet the world. In contrast, the bending of body parts conveys unpreparedness, submissiveness and appeasement.Dominance/Violence. The tragic abuse-affection cycle that many women aretrapped in is too often glorified in advertising. 15
  16. 16. I Am Woman – Helen Reddy Words and Music by Helen Reddy and Ray BurtonThis song became the “anthem” of the women’s movement / feminists of the 1970’s. I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an pretend cause Ive heard it all before And Ive been down there on the floor No ones ever gonna keep me down again CHORUS Oh yes I am wise But its wisdom born of pain Yes, Ive paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman You can bend but never break me cause it only serves to make me More determined to achieve my final goal And I come back even stronger Not a novice any longer cause youve deepened the conviction in my soul CHORUS I am woman watch me grow See me standing toe to toe As I spread my lovin arms across the land But Im still an embryo With a long long way to go Until I make my brother understand Oh yes I am wise But its wisdom born of pain Yes, Ive paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to I can face anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman Oh, I am woman I am invincible I am strong FADE I am woman I am invincible I am strong I am woman 16
  17. 17. Changing Verses Tell Tale in Song Musical Study Shows Women’s Progression by Barbara Hey Tuesday, September 24, 2002“He isn’t good. He isn’t true. He beats me, too. What can I do?” - “My Man,” sung by FannyBrice, circa 1922“I was in love wit ya. But the hell wit ya cuz you didn’t wanna treat me right.” - Pink, 2002From powerless to powerful, women have come a long way baby, in lyrics and in life.Put Fanny Brice in the front row of a Pink concert, and she would likely be more than a bitverklempt. Times they are a-changin’ and, author Dorothy Marcic said, one way to trackthose shifts is through a close look at the top 40 songs of each decade.Marcic, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, did acontent analysis of the lyrics sung by women over the century and found the themesdominating the hits mirrored the women’s roles of each era. She published the results in“Respect: Women and Popular Music” (Texere, $26.95).“Music tells the whole story of women’s empowerment,” said Marcic, a managementconsultant who speaks to corporations and business leaders about gender diversity in theworkplace, illustrating her points by belting out relevant songs. “Merely speaking isn’t alwaysenough to make my point. Listening to the songs helps people reflect on how they wereshaped by the music.”Music is not only the soundtrack of our lives; sometimes it’s the script as well. “The popularsongs of each decade are indicative of our values, our longings, what we relate to,” she said.Music also provides clues about how men and women relate to one another and how womenrelate to themselves, she says. And those attitudes have gotten rawer with time.Today we have Alanis Morissette singing about 21 things she wants in a lover, a starkcontrast to 1956, when “Que Sera, Sera” was big. That song was about a woman asking hermother and her sweetheart for advice and being told she has no control and should justaccept what comes her way.Marcic might say what a long, strange trip it has been.Songs in the first half of the century were about dependent women, with lyrics aboutvictimization, neediness and rigid gender roles. The songs were all about compliance, Marcicsaid, “I will follow him, I’ll do anything for you; just be my baby; even if you’re no good andtreat me bad; just love me and I’ll stand by my man.”By the 1960s, songs were about women who rebelled and demanded respect. Women wereangry and vented that vocally in such songs as Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” Anothercase in point: Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking.” Their anger was aimed atmen, but as women entered the workforce in greater numbers, their anger was joined by thefrustration and guilt that came with shifting roles and unequal pay, says Marcic.The next two decades were replete with cynicism -- Madonna’s “Material Girl” and TinaTurner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with it?” And about toughness, in songs like Gloria Gaynor’s“I Will Survive” and Helen Reddy’s anthem, “I Am Woman.” 17
  18. 18. By the late 1980s, other themes such as inner strength and self-direction entered the top 40in songs such as Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love.” That theme perseveres to this day,along with lyrics that speak of self confidence and wisdom, like Alanis Morissette’s “YouLearn” and Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboy’s Gone.” Love’s still going bad, butwomen are at least learning from their misery.Along the way, men have had their own favorite tunes as well, something that Marcic hasrecently been investigating. “The themes fit together like Lincoln Logs,” she says. Whilewomen were into deference and submission, men were men, in the driver’s seat of their ownlives and those of their women.The prevailing themes for men have been vision (“Dream the Impossible Dream”),domination (“I’m Sitting on Top of the World”) and control (“My Way”). By the 1980s, men’sroles also were in flux, and lyrics began to be less testosterone-driven. Other themesemerged: regret (Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”) and collaboration (John Lennon’s“Imagine”).Women sang with acceptance about their abusive men in the first half of the century, too.Now that theme has all but disappeared from popular radio play. Although male singers havehad hits with such topics - Sting’s “I’ll Be Watching You,” is one example, warning that he willbe observing “every move you make.” For the most part, the message has shifted. “Rapmusic is filled with these messages as well,” says Marcic, “but they don’t appear in the top40.”“When women were coming out of their co-dependent phase, men were sung about asinsensitive, abusive creeps. But as women got more strength men weren’t as creepyanymore,” says Marcic.But what about the female singers of today, swaggering down the VIP carpet at the MTVMusic Video Awards in outfits that would make Kate Smith weep, singing songs that wouldmake Doris Day blush?“Women want to feel power, and what better way than to wield power sexually?” Marcicsays. “As women get more equality, we’ll see less of that.”But, she says, don’t overlook the other faces in contemporary women’s music.“There is a crop of strong independent women who are not doing sexually explicit music,”she says. Included are such artists as Alicia Keys, India.Arie, Sheryl Crow and SarahMcLachlan.Marcic, 53, started investigating her musical side after leaving a position as a FulbrightScholar at the University of Economics in Prague and moving to Music City - Nashville.”Music speaks not only about where we are in our lives”, says Marcic, “but of how far we’vecome.” 18

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