Sexism in the 1930s

By Anissa Clark

Sexism was very prominent in the 1930s. Many people assumed that since the women' suffrage movement was over, women had everything they needed. This meant that many women assumed that sexism was over and that they were equal to men. This was not true. Women were still thought of as inferior when it came to getting jobs done and, they were expected to stay quiet, polite, and stay at home with the kids they were expected to raise the "right" way. Whenever a woman challenged a man it was laughed off as a joke. Some people even believed that other women were the reason the feminist movement wasn't going very well. To quote an article published in 1939, "...stubborn, ordinary women were too interested in decorating hats and making sandwiches to care about politics..." The assumption that women only wanted to stay at home and cook and clean is sexist in and of itself, but the fact that this article was written by a woman is even worse. This article shows that many women were blindsided into believing hat their place was in the kitchen.
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Sexism in Literature

Just like how sexism was shown in the media, sexism ran rampant through literature. I'm going to use "To Kill A Mockingbird" as an example. While it's not intentionally bashing women, it's frequently stated that Scout should be more of a lady. Notice how no other women have high-up positions. There's a specific part that really showcases the thoughts of what women were like in the 1930s. When Scout, Jem, and Atticus are discussing the Tom Robinson case, Jem asks a question about why there aren't any women on the jury. Atticus replies, "I doubt if we’d ever get a complete case tried—the ladies’d be interrupting to ask questions.” (pg. 118) Then, a few lines later, Scout herself thinks, "Perhaps our forefathers were wise."(pg. 118) about the fact that women shouldn't be on juries. They all laugh about the thought of a woman having some kind of power in a court case, saying that they wouldn't know what was going on or wouldn't be able to handle it. This subtle message is put in many books throughout decades, but this one in particular was set in 1930.

This picture shows a rejection letter sent from Walt Disney Studios telling a woman she can't be an animator.

Traditional Views

Many women were forced to follow traditional views and values to please, you guessed, men. Women were not only discouraged but also physically forced and threatened away from things that were not thought of as "feminine". All women were subjugated to a certain pattern. They had to have kids, they had to raise their kids, they had to cook, clean, and stay at home with the kids, and they had to look beautiful-not for themselves-but for their husbands. They were raised to this standard even when they are only six. If a woman breaks the mold, she is mocked and ridiculed until she is forced to change her opinions. Women could not have practical jobs; women were thought to be very incompetent at anything besides what was listed above.
This picture shows an advertisement from the 1930s for a cooking appliance. It states that wives are only for cooking for you.