Jessamyn Neuhas vs Betty Friedan

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					Nichole Jones

History 237

Candice Bredbenner

March 22, 2010

                                  Jessamyn Nauhas vs. Betty Friedan

        Tensions and contradictions are appropriate words for the years between 1945 and 1965, but so
are acceptance, growth, hardships, and fear. The words that could be used to describe the era, varied
from each person or group who used them. According to many sources, women were expected to
maintain their domestic and motherly roles; however, it was acceptable for them to work outside of the
home. In 1940, 25% of women worked and by 1960 an astounding 35% of women worked (Dubois,
Dumenil, 2009, p598). Betty Friedan suggested in the Feminine Mystique that women’s roles were
defined as domesticity and motherhood by advertisement, articles, media, and etc. In spite of this,
women still managed to help launch the civil rights movement, fight for racial justice issues, and
involved themselves in many other activism issues.

        Meyerowitz found differences in the non-fiction content of women’s magazines with a
predominantly white readership than of those with a predominantly black readership. Yes it was true
that white women fought for African American causes and vice versa, but it was also true that the
majority of women fought for their own race. Magazines with more white readers wrote more articles
about white women involved with community service and magazines with more African American
readers wrote more articles about African American performers who defied racism (Meyerowitz, 1993,
p1459). The fundamental nature is that black women were contending with race and gender.

        Betty Friedan’s argument that articles in that era were directed toward domesticity was proven
wrong by Joanne Meyerowitz. Meyerowitz compared nonfiction articles for the 30s, 40s, and 50s and
found that there were a mix of domesticity articles and women’s success articles. In fact, there
Meyerowitz found that 60% of the articles she researched were more geared towards working women
and their successes. Then again, many of the women’s success articles usually started out by feminizing
the woman, or group of, by describing her as “pretty, motherly, shapely, happily married, petite,
charming, or soft voiced” (Meyerowitz, 1993, p1460)

         Jessamyn Neuhaus found that the sources of her research, cookbooks, did in fact feature gender
roles and insinuate that a woman’s place was in the kitchen; however; the cookbooks also advocated
that women did not have to enjoy being in the kitchen or spend hours in it. For example, a statement
made by Campbell’s soup executive in 1953 was “the average housewife isn’t interested in making a
slave of herself. When you do it day after day, cooking tends to get a little tiresome and that young
housewife is really less interested in her reputation as a home cook today… she doesn’t regard slaving in
the kitchen as an essential of good wife and mother” (Neuhaus,1999, p543).

				
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Description: Women in Modern History