Women of the 50s

3 March 2017

When you read a magazine or watch a TV advertisement about men and women, does it ever cross your mind that women are always subordinated in those ads? You very rarely see men in kitchen related advertisements, and if they are in those ads, they are always in a dominant position compared to the females. The truth is that we, as men, have allowed the gender roles to take place and be the norm in our society. This is not only a current issue, in fact it has been happening for quite a while.

Even as far back as the 1950’s, women were placed in a gender disgracing role where they are always bending over backwards for men or being made inferior to them. In the 1950’s, women were thought to be placed at a man’s feet, doing anything and everything for them without question. Does this gender role still exist in modern society? Or did we get rid of it after the controversial 50’s ads appeared in public settings? Have you ever tried to open a ketchup bottle? It’s pretty easy, and pretty much anyone can do it.

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In the 1950’s, society looked down upon women so much that they didn’t even believe a woman could open a bottle of ketchup without a man’s help. The ad being analyzed depicts a woman holding a bottle of ketchup, and staring at the reader with her mouth open in a surprised fashion. The caption under the advertisement says “You mean a woman can open it? ” This astonished me greatly because I have never seen such a sexist ad before and realized it. Basically, the ad is saying that a woman cannot normally open a ketchup bottle by herself because she is too weak and fragile compared to men.

The scheme of the advertisers for this ketchup brand wanted to show women that they can open the bottle without the help of a man, so that their husbands are more pleased with the food or whatever the ketchup was being used for when they get back from their jobs. The 1950’s were a time where women were mainly housewives, and were rarely ever seen in the workplace, especially on the same level as men. Because this was the case, women were thought to be much more inferior to men in everything that could be done.

A woman’s place was the household, where she looked after her husband and all his belongings while he was gone making money at work, and when the man of the house gets back, everything was expected to be ready and the woman at the feet of her husband. Inferiority is terrible, no man or woman is inferior to one another, no matter how different they may look. Women have always been treated as inferior to men, even in the 1950’s. There is an ad from the 50’s that shows a woman laying down, naked but covering herself, looking adoringly at a single shoe, a man’s shoe.

The caption in the ad reads “Keep her where she belongs…” which is directly stating that a woman belongs at a man’s feet. This advertisement is basically stating the view society had of women in the 1950’s, a view that women have no say in anything and should always be ready to do anything for the man that supports them. This view of women shockingly still exists even in our modern and developed society. We constantly pressure women into being more sophisticated and beautiful for our own sakes rather than their own.

Men still have more power in government and businesses than women do, even in areas where you would think women would be more knowledgeable. There are other reasons why we believe women to be inferior to men as well, such as the fact that we were raised believing that we will grow up to be the bread-winners of our families and that the women should take care of us because of our more important role. Van Heusen, a formal attire designer, has been around for almost a century now. When you think of dress shirts, suits, and ties, how could they possibly put women in a humiliating position?

In the advertisement for Van Heusen ties for the 1950’s, a woman is shown giving her husband breakfast in bed, and her husband is wearing a dress shirt and a Van Heusen tie. This ad puts women in a bad view because it is showing them in a housewife position to a man who is dressed up for work. The man in the ad is ready for work and lying in bed waiting for his wife to bring him food. The woman is kneeling on the side of the bed putting a tray with a full breakfast in front of her husband. The woman, while doing this, is in a bathrobe with her hair and make-up done.

The caption in the ad, saying “Show her it’s a man’s world”, helps to explain that the ad is saying that if a man is wearing Van Heusen, his wife is required to bend over backwards and do anything he says. The ad itself is very sexist towards women because it puts women in a servant-like position rather than a wife and equal. Life must have been tough for women in the 1950’s, when they are being so mistreated in the eyes of the public. It is almost certain that gender roles such as the women being in their “right place” still exist today, although they may not be as prevalent as they were in the 50s.

Men had social authority over women, so no one was able to step up and put a stop to the objectification of women. Now, however, women have much more power than they did in the past because of the rise of feminist groups and organizations fighting for equality between men and women. Women are now holding much higher and much more professional jobs rather than the “1950’s housewife” position. Society can benefit greatly from gender equality as long as it is enforced and approached properly by the right people.

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