Course Kit # 25
Why Women Left Home
By: Marvin Harris
• After millenniums of oppression,American women finally decided to take a stand and protest
for their rights in the late 1960's.
• Theoretically, they believed that many social changes and the fight for rights was brought up by
chain reactions (they inspired each other). Civil rights may have lead to antiwar, to women
liberation to gay rights. Many things that were once looked down upon have become a norm in
our society. This idea was later discarded.
• So, why did feminism rise?
• During World War II, men were forced to join the army and women had to leave home in order
to financially support their family.
• After World War II, the men returned and took over the work forces and women were sent back
to being housewives and taking care of the family.
• Propaganda was used to glamorize housewives and show women that it was their duty to take
care of family and please their husbands.
• Doctors feared that working women would hard their children and husband
• Psychiatrists diagnosed women careerists as suffering from “penis envy”
• Anthropologists claimed. “I put it down as an axiom that no woman with a husband and small
children can hold a full-time job and and be a good homemaker at one and the same time.” (pg.
• Majority of the women agreed with these claims and were against married women working.
Believed women who had jobs were nervous, unloving, inferior mates, and insufficient
• 1940-1950 post World War II was when the “baby boom” occurred and birthrate increased.
• In the 1920's (roaring twenties) birthrate declined by 25%, so what caused this decline?
• The change was due to the change from a rural farming way of life to an urban, industrial way
• The change in the balance of economic costs and benefits of raising children caused birthrate to
• Children in industrialized cities cost more due to all the expenses towards them and are
economically less valuable to their parents.
• Children reared in a rural farming environment were considered blessed because they had all
the necessities of life present to them. They could grow their food, build shelter, make clothes,
work on the farm and pass on farming job from generation to generation and earn money. = less
expensive way of life.
• Children in the city had to pay for everything they needed and they had to pay to go to school,
as well as medical costs, etc... = more expensive way of life.
• What caused the “baby boom?”
• After World War II, America gained contro