In the 1940s men were “Bread Winners” and women looked after the children. Nowadays with labour saving domestic appliances and childcare facilities women can have paid work and therefore men have to share domestic responsibility. This means men have more opportunity to be involved in family life.
Do Fathers Still Expect Their Sons to Follow In Their Line Of Work?
In the 1940s sons tended to follow their fathers trade. Whereas today young people can expect to change career paths several times in their life.
Have Women’s Expectations Changed Between 1947-2003?
Yes they have because in the 1940s women were classed as wife and mother but nowadays they are classed as career women and mother.
Is Household Responsibility Left to the Women?
There is a tendency for household responsibilities to be negotiated and shared, men do what they are good at and women do what they are good at.
Do People Still Expect Women to Fulfil Domestic Roles?
Yes. Some people still have expectations that women will fulfil domestic roles.
Women in the 1940’s
In the 1940s there was so much happening with World War II that often the issue of women and their place is overlooked. However, the women of the 1940s could be viewed as the heart and soul behind the driving force for World War II; after all, “their efforts were central to the victory”(par.1). Technology was on the rise in the 1940’s as radios were in every house and even the new televisions were becoming popular (Goodwin 19). Women were a part of this change from the music industry to the Hollywood starlets. During the 1940s, women were involved in war efforts, made changes in the literary world and emerged in new ways in music and film. From work to play, the changes in the 1940s had a great impact on the women of the United States.
The influence World War II had on women was life-altering. Since the men were off to fighting the war, the women had to step up and take over the men’s jobs at the home front. However, many women were uneasy about jumping into the work force because they worried that it would conflict with traditionally feminine roles. Therefore, the workforce had to come up with a way to gather up women. “Rosie the Riveter was a propaganda character created by the government in order to reach the millions of married women who had not yet entered the workforce” (par. 5). Rosie the Riveter stood for independence, strength, and determination. She was depicted as a woman rolling up her sleeves and affirming, “We Can Do It” (Bondi 334). Her image along with other posters of that time inspired women to step in to help out with the war efforts. Apparently, the efforts paid off because the rate of working women rose from 11,970,00 in 1940 to 18,610,00 in 1945 (Bondi 334).
Another line of work that women where greatly needed was in the Armed Services and that is where “Commando Mary” comes into play (par.9). She did for the Armed Services what “Rosie the Riveter” had done for the defense industry (par.9). Many women entered the Armed Services because they felt they could be of most use and help benefit the world best begin in the Armed Forces. They had the jobs being nurses, cooks, seamstresses and laundress. However, women did not seem to mind being positions of seamstress or laundress because they knew that they where just as much the backbone of the armed forces as the men where.
Music lifted the mood of the 1940’s. American Decades: 1940-1949 explains that the impact of World War II on music was significant: “Broadway expanded to meet the demands of an enormous off-duty GI audience [while] jazz, swing, and country suffered from the impact of the draft” (Bondi 64) Despite losses of male performers to the war, music grew in popularity — perhaps due to its ability to touch the emotions of so many. In everything from big bands and swing to blues and jazz, women musicians played a part. For example, this was the time when Rosemary Clooney thrived. Rosemary Clooney was popular as a singer with the big bands of the era (Biography). She really tried to lighten the somber mood during WWII with her music. The famous singer Billie Holiday also gained popularity in this decade (Bondi 64). Billie Holiday had a lot of hardships in her road to fame, but when she reached the top there was no stopping her. She conveyed every emotion from joy to grief in her music. Both Holiday and Clooney were memorable performers of the 1940s.
Hollywood was concerned perhaps more about what types of films they should show than when the war would end. Studios had limited options around hiring just the right actors. However, that limitation did not stop Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck, “portrayed a range of complex women who combined independence with emotional vulnerability” (Bondi 54). Another actress that came into the Hollywood light was Betty Grable. She was known for her ability to bring people into the theaters. She could light up a screen and warm the hearts of millions with a simple smile. Stanwyck and Grable as well as other actresses and actors of the times were treated as royalty by the public and the press (Bondi 54). Perhaps the reason why actresses and actors were so idolized was for the simple fact that it took the public’s minds off the war and the hard times during the 1940s.
The women in the 1940s paved the way for generations to come. It is clear just how important women in this era were to the world around them. New archetypes of women emerged in the images of WWII, in figures such as “Rosie the Riveter” and “Commando Mary”. Through women’s involvement during the war she has proven that she too can roll up her sleeves and get down and dirty just like the men. The women of the 40s helped lighten the hard times of the 40s through their contributions in work and in entertainment.