Previously published in Examiner
Part 1 of the sitcoms series
Before we get to the 1960’s and the second wave of feminism, we will revisit the world of the 1950’s, the world that is sometimes called the Ozzie and Harriet World. This era reverted backwards in terms of the status of women. In some ways the 1950’s were the forgotten era in women’s rights. The gains that the Rosie the Riveters made in terms of equality with their male counterparts were taken back when the men came home from the war and reclaimed their jobs. Having said that, there were still as many women in the workforce at the end of the 1950’s as there was when the Second World War was in full swing.
In terms of legal decisions the last right that American women gained was in 1947, when they were given the right by the Supreme Court to serve on a jury, if they wanted to. No new legal legislation was forthcoming during the 1950’s.
Television of the 1950’s sends a direct message to all women
The reason the 1950’s is often called the Ozzie and Harriet era is because TV programming pretty much summed up the feeling of times. The TV made its debut in the 1940’s and many Montrealers had home TV consoles by the 1950’s.
Like all the decades and even centuries before, the woman’s place was once again in the home and 1950’s TV programming played a great part in solidifying the social mores of the day. The woman was to be the dutiful wife who cooked and cleaned, baked and took care of the kids and doted over her husband. She was to be the perfect housewife.
She was not supposed to upset her hardworking husband with the silly chatter of a woman. He was tired when he came home from work and she was to fetch his sleepers and let him relax until his dinner was served and placed in front of him. She did everything but spoon-feed him.
There was no excuse for dinner being late because she was home all day. She had nothing better to do with her time. There was no such thing as a woman could be tired, she did not work, or at least men did not consider women’s work, work. Women were just taken for granted.