Evolution of the American Woman

By: Makayla Mullins

Victorian

  • The only purpose or goals a woman had during the Victorian Era was to find a husband, and be invested in his interest and his likes.
  • Before marriage they learned housewife skills such as cooking, cleaning, washing, and weaving. (Unless they come from a wealthy family.)
  • Were not allowed to be educated outside of the home, because it was a "man's world".
  • Women were considered inferior to men in every way except for femininity.
  • Women were limited to doing feminine activities such as taking care of the home, or sewing.
  • Women had to maintain innocence, otherwise they would be seen as unfit for marriage, and therefore have a horrible life.
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1920s

  • In the 1920s the Flapper mentality was adopted amongst many young women. They decided to dedicate themselves to having fun and enjoying life rather than prep for marriage.
  • Flapper women often partook in what was previously considered bad activities such as drinking, smoking, and dancing.
  • Jazz music became a big influence in the flapper lifestyle.
  • Women stopped wearing corsets. This was considered an "evil" action.
  • Women would bind their chest and loosen their clothing to look more like a boy.

Post WWII

  • During WWII women realized that they too could preform the high paying factory jobs that were considered "manly", or "a man's job". Following the war women did not want to give up their jobs and go back to the doting housewife role.
  • Women became more confident, assertive, and less dependent on their husbands returning from war.
  • Despite the success of the men's campaign to get women to return back tp their housewife roles, women still continued to work and enter the work force through the 50s and 60s.
  • Working women were expanding their roles in the household, demanding equality and respect. Studies have shown that wives that work have a grater say in the finances.
  • Women were increasingly becoming unhappy with the burdens and contradictions they faced. Society (Men) was telling them that good wives and mothers didn't work. They stayed home and took care of the house, husband, and children. This caused them to feel guilty and confused about their new roles.
  • Women had immense hope for the future following the war, and began having children again with their husbands. (Not that they had stopped, but rather increased significantly.) The children born were the baby boomers. The boost in children reinforced the stay at home mentality.

Modern

  • Women are rejecting typical body standards presented by the media and going for more body positive images.
  • Women are pushing for their feminist movement. They demand equality with males in every way. Most commonly known is the equal pay wage fight.
  • Women refused the typical gender stereotypes they'd been given since they were children. They were done being associtated as weak, less intelligent, and soft, jut because they were women.
  • Women have evolved and are putting themselves first. They are considering themselves (wants, needs, goals, well being) first.
  • Women are again rejecting typical beauty standards especially related to race. They are becoming more proud of their race and heritage and wearing it proudly instead of trying to fit in with the "norm".
  • Women are increasingly becoming more interested and involved in the Science. Math, Technology, and Engineering felids, which were considered to be a "men's" area of expertise.
Lectures in History: Women in the Workforce After World War II