Women’s Canter Update: Time for change
I was recently made aware of just how differently Americans perceived marriage in the 1950s. According to a 1955 Housekeeping Monthly article, when a husband returns home from work, the wife should cater, gratify and accommodate her husband at all costs. The article informs women that “A good wife knows her place” and instructs them not to ask him questions about his actions; “remember you have no right to question him.”
It goes further and states “Don’t complain if he’s home late or stays out all night.” The article expresses the “duties” of a wife, which include making sure the house is clean and the children are presentable and silent. A wife during this era was responsible for preparing dinner and having it ready when he, her husband walked through the door. A wife was expected to be in a “pleasant mood” and “be happy to see him, without complaints.” The article states that the husband’s topic of conversation is more important than the wife’s, and the wife should not express her feelings or concerns before her husband has had his chance to express his feelings first.
In 1955, many more women had full-time jobs in the home and therefore women had certain expectations at home. The complexity raised through this article comes from the fact that it implies women’s thoughts, feelings and daily occurrences were insignificant to the husband or the marriage as a whole.
Being in a marriage or in a domestic partnership requires respect, compromise and, most of all, close communication with one another; it is not easy and it takes hard work from both partners. Marriage today is more of a partnership, a team, than a one-sided effort to make someone continuously happy. Today, healthy relationships and marriages consist of sharing responsibilities rather than following old traditional roles.
After reviewing these outdated ideas that we used to teach our children, it’s a good time to take a look at other negative, oppressive stereotypes in general. This may have contributed to a society that makes it more challenging for women to speak their minds and feel validated.
South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center addresses domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse and basic needs for women and families through programs and services. The SLTWC encourages healthy relationships by providing support and education across the community in English, Spanish and Tagolog. If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship and would like information about safety and options, please call our 24-hour confidential crisis line at (530) 544-4444 or feel free to come by our office at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
– Jennifer Kline is a court advocate at the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.