I was born in the 1950’s and watched a lot of television shows growing up. It got me thinking about how housewives were portrayed back then and how far we have come since. We all remember Donna Reed, Jane Wyatt from Father Knows Best, June Cleaver, all dressed up, wearing makeup, cleaning and preparing dinner, just waiting for the man of the house to come home. I know my mother never did any of those things, but on all the shows I watched the women all looked up to the man. He made all the decisions.
I found a list of what a good housewife’s duties should be from a 1950’s Home Economics class. I cannot believe that girls were actually being taught to be second class citizens. Imagine opening your daughter’s notebook and reading the following:
1. Have dinner ready when your husband gets home. Plan ahead, if necessary the night before. Most men arrive home from work hungry and a good meal is part of their warm welcome. It shows you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.
2. Prepare yourself for his arrival at least 15 minutes before he comes home. Freshen yourself up, retouch makeup, put a ribbon in your hair.
3. Be happy in your tone and attitude. After a hard or boring day he may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
4. Clear away any clutter and pass a dust cloth over furniture before he walks through the door.
5. In the cooler months, prepare a fire for him to come home to. He will be able to relax in warmth and order and you will get immense satisfaction from catering to his comfort.
6. Encourage children to be quiet; greet him with a smile not complaints and problems; have a cool or warm drink ready for him; arrange his pillows; offer to take off his shoes; speak in a low soothing voice; don’t ask him questions.
7. Remember: He is the master of the house and will always exercise fairness and truthfulness; you have no right to question him.
8. A good wife always knows her place.
Is it any wonder marriage has it’s problems? Lord knows how long that mentality existed. I know it was too long. We have certainly come a long, long way since the 1950’s. Women have made tremendous strides in education and business. I don’t think it will be much longer before women become the breadwinners and men are confined to household duties.
I would love to be around to see the 2050’s list for the good househusband!