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To think many have a stereotyped idea of women in the 1050's?

86 replies

abacucat · 06/10/2018 14:42

I have bought a copy of the magazine Housewife from 1950 at my local charity shop out of curiosity. It is really interesting. The articles include -

  • recipes
  • dressmaking instruction
  • how to make a tea tray
  • some funny stories
  • poems to read aloud
  • reviews of new published books
  • an article about whether you should have a pram or get your toddler to walk - article recommends a pram and your toddler walking sometimes
  • DIY - replacing a broken wall switch
  • an article about the importance of doing things every day for yourself and not just being a mother and housewife
  • gardening tips
  • an article about bird watching
  • things to see in London this month
  • How shopping centres are planned by architects and planners
  • A light hearted article about what to wear if you are serving on a committee

Some of these fit into our stereotype views of 1950's housewives, but some clearly don't. The magazine makes women who are housewives sound like they are capable women with lots of skills and interests.
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abacucat · 06/10/2018 14:43

Title should say 1950's!!!!

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Whisky2014 · 06/10/2018 14:45

Yeh but none of it working for the man. I dont think anyone thinks they didnt have any interests or hobbies? But their role was to look after the kids and house

Whisky2014 · 06/10/2018 14:46

Oh but i meant to say the magazine sounds awesome. Can you post a photo of the page of poems? And some recipes?

ForalltheSaints · 06/10/2018 14:47

I can think of two people who do for a start- Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson. Being charitable to Mr Rees-Mogg to say he is only stuck in the 1950s, that is.

OneEpisode · 06/10/2018 14:48

My relatives weren’t rich so everyone, male and female, including children and those with disabilities had to use their efforts and skills. It was only a very small slice of society that had the life style we think of as the “1950s housewife”

elQuintoConyo · 06/10/2018 14:48

How to make mead? How to cut oak leaves on the bias to make a smock? The best shaped sticks for stirring your laundrt?

continuallychargingmyphone · 06/10/2018 14:49

Opened this expecting to see what life was like before Harold got one in the eye Grin

AtiaoftheJulii · 06/10/2018 14:50

The magazine makes women who are housewives sound like they are capable women with lots of skills and interests.

Headline news - probably the vast majority of women who are housewives/SAHMs today are capable women with lots of skills and interests!

They weren't being housewives because that was the only thing they could think of to do, or could manage to do. Women weren't in the workforce because of widespread incompetence, it was because they weren't allowed to be working, because there was an enormous weight of expectation on them to stay at home.

No wonder their magazines were interesting, they needed to be!

PineapplePower · 06/10/2018 14:50

People have a weird concept of the 1950s based on media. Women in my family always worked back then, had to as they were not wealthy. Had to have a great knowledge of both domestic and work-related skills. Of course, professional careers were largely closed to women at the time, but they were pretty much closed to the men in my family as well!

bellinisurge · 06/10/2018 14:51

My Dad was born in the 1920s. He was the dressmaker in our house. And loved cooking. And was great at diy. Careful with stereotypes.

abacucat · 06/10/2018 14:53

I know women worked in the 1950's, but the magazine is called Housewives. It is not aimed at working women.

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FullFatCoke · 06/10/2018 14:57

I think we can have a very narrow view of what life was like for women in the 1950s. Both my grandparents worked full-time and raised families.
My maternal grandmother I would say did all the sort of things listed in the magazine article - knitted, made clothes, made jam, DIY, gardened, served on the local church board. She worked full-time from 14 until retirement.

My paternal grandparents split up so that gran was a single mum - she worked two jobs, taught Sunday school, brought up 4 kids and a bit later, went on trips all over Europe with her church.
Both working class women, it winds me up when people casually say women didn't work outside the home in the 1950s.

Livingtothefull · 06/10/2018 14:58

Although Mr R-M at least seems to be a reasonably decent husband and father ForalltheSaints which imo gives him an edge. Boris Johnson is just a scumbag.

Argonauts · 06/10/2018 14:58

How to make mead? How to cut oak leaves on the bias to make a smock? The best shaped sticks for stirring your laundry?


I must say, OP, that pretty much everything you list sounds like the classic 1950s housewife stereotype -- it's all recipes, sewing, children, house and garden, shopping, with a bit of bumf about committees and clothes, and 'doing things for yourself'.

But of course this is from a magazine called 'Housewife', so it's both self-selecting, and bears about as much relationship to real women's lives as today's Grazia or Marie Claire. Also, Betty Friedan originally tried to publish The Feminine Mystique her era-defining book about the hollow allure of the idea that life as a housewife/mother was 'naturally' fulfilling to women as a magazine article in 1957, but no magazine would publish it.

bellinisurge · 06/10/2018 14:58

While women were forced back into the home after the war people like my Mum were invited over to do the jobs left vacant by them. Bloody foreigners.
Still, my Mum gets the last laugh. Thanks to her we all get an Irish passport.

abacucat · 06/10/2018 15:00

The recipes are for iced chocolate eclairs and petits choux.
Also article on how to grow mushrooms as a profitable hobby.

The letters page includes a mum with a 17 month old who had not been able to afford to go on honeymoon after marriage. Her DH now ants to go on a honeymoon. Her mum would look after her 17 month son, but does not see him often. She is advised to go on honeymoon as both her DS and DH matter, and it will be good for her DS to have time away with his gran.

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Racecardriver · 06/10/2018 15:01

Which of any of those don't fit into the 50s housewife sterotype?

abacucat · 06/10/2018 15:02

Argonauts Yes perhaps. Along with DIY, reading good books and visiting things in London.

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Bluelady · 06/10/2018 15:02

Women did work in the 50s but they had jobs, not careers on the whole. A lt of jobs, eg local government made you resign when you got married and most women with children had "little" part time jobs earning "pin money". Men were expected to be the breadwinner and a lot of men felt t was a slight on them if their wife needed or wanted to work.

abacucat · 06/10/2018 15:09

Yes my family are/were working class, so many worked. Jobs, not careers. But most housewives in 1950 would have worked during the war, often doing traditionally male jobs. Waterloo Bridge was built by women.

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Goldenbear · 06/10/2018 15:13

In my extended family there was only one great Aunt who worked, even when she was married it she didn't have children. Both my Grans and other female family members of that generation were all housewives. My husband's Grandma trained as a Dentist in the 40's but once she was married became a housewife.

Allineedyoutodois · 06/10/2018 15:17

My working class family wouldn’t have had the money for the magazine or the time to do any of the ‘activities’ in it. They were too busy working 12 hour shifts in factories...


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MereDintofPandiculation · 06/10/2018 15:17

It was difficult to work as a mother with children as there wasn't much in the way of child care - child minders but not nurseries, no breakfast clubs or after school clubs. You were likely to lose your job if you had a baby simply because there was no legislation keeping your post open for you. Teachers were "miss" because they usually were ... at junior school we had one teacher who was married - her small son at the infants school would make his way down at the end of school and sit quietly at the back of her class till she finished teaching 15 mins later.

Big differences for many people from now: - fewer cars, with few women having access to them, so prams were needed. Restricted food range - imagine coping with no yogurts, no pasta except for macaroni, no pizza. No deepfreezers, and quite a few people didn't have a fridge. No showers. No central heating or double glazing.

On the other hand we had meat deliveries twice a week, groceries weekly, bread and milk delivered - rather like today's on-line grocery shopping. Except that supermarketsdon't give your children tins of toffees at Christmas!

MereDintofPandiculation · 06/10/2018 15:20

My mother didn't work, neither did any of the friends made through her pre-marriage place of work. But my working class best friend's mother worked during school hours, needlework and mending for the local public school.

abacucat · 06/10/2018 15:20

The magazine is obviously aimed at fairly well off women, nothing about managing on a budget and the recipe for making chocolate iced eclairs is an obvious luxury item in 1950. Its level of language also assumes that women are pretty well educated.
But it is much better than magazines today aimed at housewives such as Family Living.

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