Women's Studies 2161A/B Chapter Notes -Redstockings

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American Dreams, Stifled Realities, and Pop culture in the 1940s, ‘50s,
and ‘60s
Even the best movies, tv series, ad campaigns speak of what women can and should – or
shouldn’t – be.
Consuming Passions: Women in Advertising
Advertising’s chief aim: to make a consumer want to buy a product by any means
necessary. Female consumers are made to feel insecure in order to sell more products. In
its bids for consumers, advertising sets standards of how our society sees the role of
women. Why aren’t men portrayed in this way though?
Beginning in late 1800s:
Ads aimed at men were focused on sex (featured women as sexy pinups alongside
manly products)
Ads aimed at women:
owere more about romance than sex (“loveliness”, “femininity”)
owhen making them insecure, it was about cursed loneliness to make their
pitches heard (ie. Often a bridesmaid but never a bride)
owomen alone were responsible for mothering their children and husbands
Women in these ads were white and middle class until about the 1960s because
they were responsible for the household purchasing. The linking of purchasing
power with social power would become more present in pop culture aimed at
During WWII:
US Office of War Information teamed up with womens magazines/radio/movie
producers to create ads convincing women to enter the workforce b/c men were
going off to war (something frowned upon in the 1930s – “every women who
entered the workforce was taking a job away from a man”)
This shift demanded US acknowledge its own hypocrisy and sexism – President
Roosevelt in 1942 addressed this: “we can no longer afford to indulge such
Women were positioned as both the reason men should keep fighting the war and
the fuel behind their country’s efforts to do so [6 million women entered
A time when images of women in advertising literally dictated to them their roles
in society [head of household, glamourpuss, sassy workers]
These images changed once the war was over
Sacrificing Mothers and Femmes Fatales: Women on Screen
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