When WWII ended and men returned home in the late 1940s, women were fired and sent home. It was too late. Rosie the Riveter had already shown women there was more to life than diapers and baby talk.
Men were the bread winners of the household during the 1950s. If a woman worked, she was either a spinster, widow, childless, or just working for fun and a second income. Men were prioritized over women in the workplace due to societal expectations on them to provide for their families. They were automatically paid more for the same job if they were doing the same job as a woman. Not because they were better at it, but because they were feeding their family. Even when they were single with no kids. They were assumed to be saving for a house and kids someday. Women literally could not afford to have children outside of marriage. If their husband died, they had to find another one if they still had kids at home. Very few women went to college unless it was to become a school teacher or secretary. Women could not borrow money from a bank. They could not have credit cards or bank accounts without their husband’s signature as the owner of the account. They could not buy a car or a house. They were in most respects nothing more than property owned by their husbands. It was 1993 before all 50 states even had marital rape laws on their books. They were expected to have sex with their husband whenever and however he chose. Most courts rejected husbands claims to beat their wives by 1870. However, even through the 1980s the only way a woman could defend herself against her husband was by using a plea of insanity and claiming battered wives syndrome. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it became legal to use force such as a gun even if when a man was actively trying to murder his wife.
Women were expected to be completely fulfilled by raising children and taking care of their husband. Most women have never been fulfilled by just those two things if they are being honest. Being unable to have a conversation other than whose house is the cleanest, speaking to children on their level, what is the latest recipe, and asking her husband what he wants for dinner is all completely mindless. In short, women were not allowed to develop intellectually on any level. They were not allowed anything for themselves. Everything emotionally and intellectually was for their husband or children. They had no decision making ability on any level. They were servants. They were confined. In the 1940s, they had jobs, conversations, intellectual endeavors, goals, and dreams. The feminist movement of the early 1960s was a result of the 1950s.
I am not a fan of Rachel Maddow, but her diatribe about the hallway showing plaques of men’s accomplishments throughout history was dead on. Men on social media showed their true colors with comments about how women have done nothing and contributed nothing. The truth hurts. The truth is that men didn’t allow them to do anything. They didn’t have the financial means for education without their husband’s approval. The church didn’t approve. It was frowned upon for women to be doing any job that would have resulted in a plaque on that wall. That wall very much showed the truth about women’s history and it wasn’t a very good reflection on men.
My mother was born in 1937. She graduated from The University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK with a Bachelors Degree in Business Education. Very few women held bachelors degrees at that time. She then when to work for a vocational technology college in OKC, OK teaching typing. Later, she got married and taught high school English and History. My mother will NOT tell you the 1950s were great. She was 18 in 1955. She got to go to college because my grandfather was a teacher and believed in education for everyone.
The economy was booming in the 1950s but it was also the start of the Cold War. The religious right would have you believe that the 1950s were a magical time and we need to return to the 1950s. It was great if you were a woman married to a good man and you had no aspirations in life other than raising kids. It was great for men. Men had total financial control, emotional control, physical control, and were the absolute priority. Men could rape, abuse, and cheat on their wives with no fear of recourse or even divorces. Men could literally treat women however they chose to treat them. It was not always good. Hell will freeze over before I get onboard with a return to the 1950s. Yes, men are mad right now because of feminists. If it weren’t for feminists, I would not be able to own my home or pickup. Divorce is off the charts or people aren’t getting married at all. Well, a woman doesn’t have to get married or stay married unless you treat her like you are supposed to treat her. Apparently, that’s a problem for some men out there and they’re pretty angry about the whole idea of treating women decently. Women aren’t behaving well because now we don’t have to either. We have birth control now and women can’t even be controlled through pregnancy.
What we should all be doing is treating one another how we are supposed to treat each other instead of trying to control each other. With respect and kindness. The best relationships are voluntary between two people who both want to be with the other person. People are people. There are good ones and crappy ones. Most of us are both, depending on what day it is. The feminists are too far left right now and the religious right is too far right. As always, I’m here in the middle of the muddy road.