womens changing role in Britain since 1930's(40 Posts)
I need to write an essay on something that has changed since the 1930's, I've chosen to write about women's role in society because I'm interested in feminism but haven't really been exposed to the viewpoints as they appear on this board. (obviously equal pay etc but nothing as extreme as some of the opinions on here.)
I was just wondering your viewpoints on how women's roles have changed (apart from the obvious less housewives and more working) and what hasn't changed?
All viewpoints welcome :-)
(first time posting in feminism so sorry if any turn of phrase I've written is wrong/not feminist.)
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
there is way more choice for women in careers now but I'm not sure what the actual figures were for women working out of the home in the 30s, I think they were higher than we sometimes think, but in a more limited range of jobs.
domestic appliances are interesting because they've made a difference to the actual work but not as much difference in the time spent doing it as you would expect (the classic example is the washing machine, in that it made washing waaaay easier, but now we wash our clothes more often, so the work has expanded to fill the time available).
good luck with the essay!
Until World War 2, it was routine for women to quit their jobs, or get told to leave, if they got married. Even teachers.
Not completely related but the 1941 national service act enlisted women into service (not combat) for the first time. It was a necessity because of labour shortages but still interesting. I also saw something on the news the other day about women machinists striking at ford in the 40's or 50's for equal pay and opportunity. The second world war changed a lot for women in terms of work/careers.
In the 1930s many women were prevented from working due to the implication of the marriage bar. Basically it stated that in many occupations, like teaching, if a woman was to marry, she had to stop working.
I have an interesting library book at the moment called in British Public Life, 1914-50.
Lots of info in their about female polictians and female social activists etc.
Women in British Public Life, 1914-50.
lots to write about then!
Is there anything you feel I could argue hasn't changed?
the marriage bar applied more to middle class professional jobs though, not working class factory jobs which probably accounted for more women.
this shows the laws relating to women change, abortion rights, rape crisis centres opening, rape etc Not sure if it will help but it might give you a basis.
(You need to scroll down a considerable amount to find the right date)
thank you all!
so laws aside what about general attitudes? I've seen on other threads estate agents only wanting to speak to the "man of the house" is this unusual in your experience or still the norm?
Good essay choice . I think it is helpful to keep in mind that there certainly have been changes, but generally these changes have been bound by continued assumptions about women. i.e. Women can now expect to work, but you will tend to find that women still take on the primary responsibility for housework and childcare (with a growing number of happy exceptions). Laws on rape have been improved, but convictions are still dismally low and there is a good deal of research showing that the focus is still often on women who were 'asking for it'.
The general line is to say - 'See, look how much things have improved, we are much more equal/totally equal/feminism has gone too far. Feminists tend to highlight the limits of change -and somtimes the way things even go backwards.
I think this book is always pretty helpful as a beginning - if you can get hold of it - as it contains introductory essays on so many subjects: Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Women in Twentieth Century Britain.
Good luck with your researches.
I think the public sexualisation of women and girls is an interesting issue.
As women have become more able to make their own life choices as opposed to having them made for them, there seems to have been an increase in the sexualisation of women.
This is something I struggle to fathom.
If we are more empowered then why are we constantly viewing little starlets in bikinis thrusting their booties about?
Ok, so they choose to do it. That's empowerment in a way.
But why are so many of us using spray tans and hair extensions? Are we really doing it because we are empowered?
I'm not sure if I've explained it very well, but my Granny never so much as wore lipstick and she was utterly beautiful and got herself an extremely handsome and lovely husband. She was never short of friends and happiness, yet she never had a wax or a manicure.
sethstarkaddersmackerel - you mean that ramble actually made sense to you?
I know what I was trying to say but just couldn't get it down somehow ....
To put it another way -
If we are supposed to be more in control of our lives, why do we seem more controlled by external influences?
ssam - generally true, but my mum lost her job on marriage and it wasn't a middle class type career, just a job in an arms depot.
another similar issue is the myth that women stopped working and went home after ww2. They lost their 'mens' jobs (welding ships) and got lower paid 'womens' jobs (light electronics) part time. Then did the double shift of all the domestic & childcare stuff too. Happy days.
Years ago I read a book that said something like "The first trend that might be called 'working-class fashion' in Britain was the teddy-boy look of the 1950s. Some might claim that it was only at that time that working-class people had enough money to afford any kind of fashion at all..."
I think that might (perversely) be hitting the point about control versus being controlled. People get a bit more money, and you'd think that they'd be more independent, but to some extent we spend our money on following fashions that really aren't our choice, but we don't feel comfortable if we ignore them. Sort of keeping up with the Joneses. Back when nobody had any money except the nobs and toffs, at least things were simpler: if you could stay alive, you were doing well.
Interesting point TeiTetua, but why did we spend centuries trying to escape the shackles of a patriarchy only to wear cleavage enhancing bras and mascara?
Do they enhance our careers? - I hope not.
Do they make us more content? - If so, where the hell do we place our self-esteem?
I know I should really keep opinions like this to myself on a feminism thread but:
What the hell have we done with opportunities we've been given since the 1930s?
Please don't flame me. I'm not a feminist and I really shouldn't be intruding on here.
I am extremely interested in the debate though.
Yes, that is a good point Oopsadaisy. It is like every time women got some power in one area, it had to be made right by proving that women were still intrested in being women. Or, just by plasting photos of tits all over magazine racks to make it clear. Sorry that is so incoherent. I don't fully understand what is going on and so have problems expressing it.
This is one area I still struggle with - a lot. Even though I am planning to attend a wedding next week with my fresh leg hair for my experiement in resisting femininity.
but why resist femininity? isn't that denying what we are?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
If no leg hair was femininity and was just what we are, then we wouldn't have any in the first place. Who decides what is an isn't feminine? I am female, I have leg hair therefore it is feminine. Ripping it out would be denying what I just am.
what is femininity then?
Obv. not make up and cleavages...
A social construct and/or attributes a female has.
Have you seen the resisting femininity threads?
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