Family and Women in the 50s By: Amaya harig

Following her probes into the lives of women after the First World War and their roles in the second. Women might have had the vote on the same terms as men since 1929, but for most that was pretty well the limit for equality: working women were paid much less than men and despite the responsibilities and sheer hard graft many had endured in wartime, were still regarded as submissive and inferior beings. Educational opportunities were limited, the 1944 Education Act was supposed to give everyone 'parity of esteem' but that is not how it worked out. Many teachers and parents had narrow expectations for girls whose destiny was to be marriage, a home and a family, with work just an interim measure between leaving school and walking down the aisle, rather than a career. Just 1.2 per cent of women went to university in the 1950s

In many cases, a woman's lot seems to have hardly improved by marriage. Imagining wives to be fulfilled by having an easy-to-clean Formica worktop and a twin-tub washing machine, husbands could be harsh taskmasters, most regarding running the home and parenting solely as a woman's responsibility, expecting meals ready when they returned from work, making all the household decisions of consequence and largely continuing to inhabit a separate sphere of pubs and football.

In the 50s, families dined together, went together for outings, met and chatted with their neighbors regularly, and did many more things which brought peace and harmony to the society. Discipline with respect to children was a major concern within families. Kids were made to attend Sunday Mass in the church every week, and had to do their homework daily. Disrespect the elders was out of question and was dealt with severely. Kids were more attached with their friends, with whom they hanged out due to the fact that they were not allowed to watch television for long hours, though it was becoming popular amongst families. Computers had not entered the common households by then. All in all, there was a safe atmosphere outside the house. Girls as discussed before, stayed at their homes until they got married.

With the rise in popularity of television and AM radio, a new kind of music known as 'rock and roll' emerged, and it gathered tremendous fan following, especially from the youngsters, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe became youth icons, with more and more youngsters wanting to be like them. This trend resulted in major changes in clothing styles as well. For the boys, jeans and leather jackets became latest fashion, whereas girls started wearing petal pushers and scarves which were termed as 'trendy'. However the basic conservative morals of the families did not seem to have changed alongside the new trends, and so freedom inside and outside the house was an altogether different concept.

In response to the question, the 50's were times of change and morals including fashion and social norms. It was also a time of lively interaction with not only kids but also adults and it's sadly lacking in today's society.


Created with images by Martin Pettitt - "Nunn Family group photo" • tinkerbrad - "Mom" • Archives New Zealand - "New Zealand Social Credit Party, Marching Song" • Hugo-90 - "Bar Room" • WalterPro4755 - "Wedding 009a" • dok1 - "Brothers" • libertygrace0 - "Girl Guide 1950's" • LizCraftTherapy - "9 (2)" • LizCraftTherapy - "3" • France1978 - "Vintage Motorola Table Radio, Model 56H (aka The Torpedo), AM Band, 5 Vacuum Tubes, Iconic 1950s Radio, Circa 1956"

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