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SOCY 122 (207)
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Lecture 2

Sociology Notes Week 24

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Queen's University
SOCY 122
Rob Beamish

Sociology Notes Week 24 The Women’s Movement o 1950’s and 1960’s were conservative times  Role of middle class women living in suburbia were to fill is embodied by the suburban housewife  Have dinner ready and ensure that the man is comfortable  Never complain and know your place  Praise the man’s superior strength and ability and revere him  Honour the man’s right to rule you and your children – he is the master of the house  Make sure the home is a place of tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit (LOL) o Kitchen debate between Nixon and Prime Minister Khrushchev centered around availability of appliances and the woman’s role in the household  American postwar domestic dream: Successful bread-winners supporting attractive homemakers in suburban homes o Both men and women supported the predominant themes of domestic containment in the 1950’s  Majority – with more women agreeing than men – felt that men should wear the proverbial pants in the family  Belief that women should devote the major art of their interests and energies to their homes and families o Popular culture suggested that the bedrock of North American values began in the home and informed young teens that girls must support the men  Songs reinforced and suggested the appropriate roles and relationships between teens as they became men and women  Possessive titles e.g. Bobby’s girl o Women should find fulfillment through their men rather than work and the development of their own talents out of the household The Beginning of Change o Mid 1960’s – attitudes and popular culture started to reflect changes underway in North American culture o For girls and women growing up in the 50s and 50s marriage provided illusions of security  Men would share their wages in exchange for housekeeping, cooking, sex and child care o By the 1950s the security of the marriage contract was eroding on several fronts  Popular culture began to appeal to men in a more systematic manner – Playboy  Men should enjoy a richer life in the midst of young, attractive women and tokens of financial success  Increasingly secular environment and worth was measured by income and material possessions  Appeal resonated with men at all levels of hierarchy – but particularly white collar workers o Playboy opened up an area of discussion that had always been suppressed – the overt display of masculine culture became under scrutiny in the 60s/70s o Popular culture definitions were important in creating change but the hard realties of making ends meet in Canadian household sparked change o Most women married to working-class men had to work outside the home  Paid work women undertook was passed over in silence because families wanted to appear successful  Desire to fulfill purported cultural norm of the male breadwinner  Refusal to acknowledge work undertaken by women was fundamental to family income (dubbed as ‘extras) o By the 1960s post-war economic expansion was slowing and real incomes started to plateau – forced more women to work outside household  Higher expectations in education and an increase in university enrolments made children more expensive o Tremendous stress on women in 50s and 60s because their roles had been so strongly define din terms of domestic support  Government resistance to subsidized childcare – children belong with their mothers o Childcare, volunteer work and controlling the household budget were expectations that had no status attached to them  Paid work for women was a burden / supplement and seldom acknowledged  ** Women in middle class suburbia felt isolated and undervalued  Exhaustion of the double burden of domestic work and paid labour o Men sought to keep women second class through reinforcing narrow definitions of gender identity  Made it seem as if existing gender roles and patterns of interaction were inevitable and unchanging Forces for Change o Liberal feminists sought a society in which there was equal opportunity for women and men – directed attention to legislation  Wanted women to have access to professions, presence in a political arena, and state support for family  Sought to strike down laws that discriminated against women and put in place laws guaranteeing gender equality o Changes arose form lived-experiences of women coming-of-age during that period o Isolation of suburban life led to coffee klatches – women would meet and express their frustrations and grievances o Era or raising consciousness about other movements e.g. nuclear, civil rights and Vietnam  Women began to focus on their own lives and recognized conscio
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