I have decided that since I am such an expert at being a housewife that why not write about the history of housewives? Actually if you asked my husband he would probably tell you that my housewife skills are lacking. The laundry is piled high on top of the washer and dryer (hey at least it’s folded), the floors need a good mopping, and I will be the first to admit to making a meal the easiest way I know….in the crock pot (that chili sure smells good).
I tend to think that as long as the children are alive and happy then that’s all that truly matters. The thing about housework is IT NEVER GOES AWAY! It’s always there and dependable when you feel like
setting flame to doing it, which for me would be NEVER. Let’s take a little look into what housewives have been like through the decades.
1900 ~ In the beginning of the twentieth century women didn’t have many rights. They were pretty much expected to get married and have children while their husbands went to war or work and generated the household income. If you were a woman and single in the early 1900’s then you got a job waitressing, cooking, housecleaning, sewing etc. Sounds to me like there wasn’t really a difference between being single and married other than instead of only having a boss you also had a husband telling you what to do.
It was actually quite frowned upon to have women in the workforce in the early 1900’s. I bet this meant that there were a lot of “unhappily” married women as well.
1910 ~ By 1910 there was a little over 23 percent of women in the workforce. Mainly because so many men were called to war. Washington State adopts women’s suffrage and starts the ball rolling on women’s right to vote. In 1911 a factory fire kills over 140 workers, mostly which are young woman and commences labor reform.
This decade was a popular one with the Titanic sinking in 1912 and WWI starting in 1917. And wrapping up the decade with the outlawing of any selling or manufacturing of alcohol. That was quite a crappy decade if you ask me. To sum it up, to be a woman means you are a slave whether married or single, the men were all at war (and I’m pretty sure there weren’t vibrators back then), and booze is illegal meaning no cocktails for those really
shitty shoddy days.
1920 ~ Also known as the roaring 20’s was a breakthrough for women. Early in the decade women are given the right to vote and obtain equal rights as that of the opposite sex. Divorce also became legal in this decade so you can imagine how high the rate was for that.
As for the housewives of the 1920’s, they were to keep a clean house all while looking their best. I guess this means no running around in her pajama pants or underwear and hair in a messy bun all while scrubbing the toilet. Late in the decade appliance companies began to market an assortment of “time-saving devices”.
Mothers were expected to wean their children from breastfeeding at exactly nine months and have them potty trained by an exact age whether they were ready or not. Kissing or hugging your children in public was frowned upon and if a child acted spoiled the mother was blamed for giving too much affection to her children. WTF?
1930 ~ Pretty much nothing changes in this decade for the housewives. They are still trying to look their best and obtain a mark on society. Here is an interesting marriage test written by a doctor in late 1939 made up of a demerit system.
1940 ~ This decade brings WWII and the first women’s baseball league. Mid decade there are over 35 percent of woman in the workforce only to return to “female” roles after WWII ends.
As for the housewives of this decade they begin to learn how to live on a serious budget. We are talking less than $20 a week to feed the average family of 4. Still washing most clothes by hand including those wonderful reusable diapers. I for one would have never survived having to clean out poop from a cloth. If my kids have a number 2 accident these days…I just throw the undies away. No I’m not kidding.
Children took their naps outside and manners were strictly enforced. Wash before dinner, no elbows on the table, never speak with food in your mouth, and you must be asked to be excused before leaving the table. In my opinion, I think these rules should all still apply. **bubble forms above head**
The housewives of the 40’s also put the needs of their husband high above their own. I would have been a wife dead in the trunk of the car if I had been a 1940’s housewife.
1950 ~ Along comes the decade of “I Love Lucy”, “Father Knows Best”, and “Leave It To Beaver” portraying the average housewife as loyal and domesticated individuals of suburbia. They live for taking care of their homes and family all while still looking their best.
Most advertising images showed a woman in the kitchen, with a
fake smile on her face, and high heels on, while holding in her hands either a pie or the latest model kitchen gadget or vacuum cleaner. The house was spotless and dinner was served at the exact moment that the possessor of balls man of the house husband walked through the door from work. Like somehow cooking and cleaning was the only thing that brought smiles to these women’s faces back then. It’s no wonder that on the other spectrum of 1950’s images shows women with a cigarette in one hand and a martini glass in the other. Now days the cigarette is replaced by a pill bottle labeled Xanax, Valium, or Zoloft.
The number of women entering college declined in this decade and even the ones who did go onto finish college still ended up as homemakers. Some of these girls/students/women even taking classes to prepare them to be housewives. Society assuming that having the mother absent from the home, for any reason, meant bad parenting and somehow endangering the family unit also known as the nuclear family.
There you have it…six decades of housewives and I can honestly say that nothing much changed. Women basically went from having no rights and not being treated equally to having rights but not using them and then still being treated unequally in the home by expecting to cater to the
keeper of the penis man. I will be interested to see what the next six decades will have to say….
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