Creating an Ideal: Companionate Marriage & the Reality of 1950s
I. The early 20th-century: social forces that helped create an ideal of love-based, companionate marriage
◦ A family with father the bread winner and mother the stay-at-home worker was seen as normal.
Married couples must have babies and marital sexual activity is the primary goal.
A. Social changes and resulting concerns about preserving marriage and “the family”
1) Anxiety about the “new day” for women, women‟s rights and images of gender equality
▫ Family was threatened by the social changes. Changing status of women- control of property,
working with income and the „new day‟ (women equal to men)
▫ Evidence of the anxiety
i. Home economics was developed
ii. Organizations only foe men e.g. boy scout
iii. Group of identified gay men- people became self-identified as gay
2) A fear of weakening masculinity, given men‟s increased employment in white-collar jobs.
▫ Men were used to do manual jobs where these jobs identified them as manly and manual
3) Worries about “the family,” given declining birth rates (for white middle-class women) and rising
▫ The flow of immigrants into Canada and US. People were afraid of losing the white supremacy
B. The development of mass-consumer culture: the glorification of heterosexual romance and the promise
of happiness e.g. advertising
C. The gradual achievement of the “family wage”
◦ In the 1930s (Depression) gender roles turned upside down and men were depressed because female
were more easy to be employed and they can make money and feed the children
- In the past, family in Canada needed second income, women to work, because men‟s incomes were
unable to support the whole family. In the50s, as income increases, women were able to stay home and
children were able to go to school. At that period of time nearly 95%-99% people get married. Half
women get married when they were 19-20, men: early 20s. People felt secure economically and they
have the pressure to get marry and have children. Being married is a sign of normality and responsibility
- The Kinsey reports and the sexual climate: reaction to the female volume was significantly more
negative and tended to focus on the morality of the findings and on the moral basis of the project itself.
Kinsey had id