The roles of the everyday woman has changed dramatically throughout history, especially in the last 40 years or so. In the 50’s and 60’s a woman was expected to live for the role of housewife. She was to tend to her children and husband, cooking and cleaning constantly. In the current century a family is still labeled ‘normal’ when the roles are reversed, a man stays home and the woman earns the income. This is due to the ever changing views of society. Due to the strife of women to prove equal to men in the workplace, the changing depictions of women in different forms of media, and through increased interest in sexuality in our society, the definition of a ‘housewife’ has gained multiple meanings.
The 1950’s and 60’s idea of a housewife can be seen in this video of ‘cooking terms.’ In this video we see a woman who has just been married, the narrator introduces that the honeymoon is now over and its time for her to ‘enter her new kitchen.’ This line shows how at that time, the kitchen was truly thought to be a woman’s place. The video goes on to say that the woman is worrying over the thought of her ability to surprise her husband and produce as great quality of food as his mother. This shows that even women supported the view and their complying actions constricted them to the role. The narrator makes a point of saying that you have to know the ‘following’ terms to be successful in the kitchen, at which time the woman is shown how to ‘cream’ things and ‘mix.’ I feel that this video makes new housewives seem incompetent and inferior to those with years of marriage. However I feel this is an appropriate video that probably aired during its time, and was watched by many. The last important element of this video is the way in which the woman is dressed, extremely conservative, the viewer’s mind isn’t forced to thoughts of sex by mass cleavage being revealed.
The ABC sitcom, Desperate Housewives does a fairly decent job of portraying the change in the expected roles of women today. In this preview we see many different women, engaging in very intimate situations. The preview says “its time to come clean,” then shows two people making out. Also in the preview the women are having lunch together and one of them states that herself and her boyfriend had not had sex yet, they were waiting for marriage. At that point her friend breaks into laughter of disbelief and says, “Oh my God, you‘re serious?” In this previews one minute entirety eight make out scenes are shown, half of which the women are seen in their bra’s and underwear. Just as the preview is about to show the scenes the narrator says “its time for love.” Lastly, the women in this video are dressed more casual and revealing, many of them reveal cleavage when fully dressed, and in the end they are all dressed to fit our society’s view of ‘sexy.’
These two videos differ dramatically, yet both accepted of their time periods. Women have strived to become equal to men in the workplace, therefore changing society’s perceptions and norms from that of the first video, a strict role as housewife, to a more dynamic role acceptance. Also the perceived role a woman should fit has been altered over the years dramatically by media, as we see, the first video is an example of a show aired in the 50’s and 60’s then we shift to the shows common of our time of sex and drama filled relationships, such as Desperate Housewives. I feel the most important and most dramatic factor that has changed the role of women over time is the increased interest and acceptance of sex in our society. Through years of increased nudity and women’s coming into the role as a sexual partner, society has gradually become more desensitized and come to appreciate sex. The phrase “sex sells,” is a common marketing term throughout our society today. This term differs greatly from the target market of the 50’s and 60’s, the housewife of cooking and cleaning. My reaction to the first video was that it was stupid, why would someone watch something so boring and pointless? I viewed the clip as a joke, so I began to analyze why I felt this way. At which point one must imagine how viewers of the 50’s and 60’s would react to an episode of Desperate Housewives, where sex, adultery, and drama are the focus. I’m sure that the viewers of that time period would feel the same way I did towards the video of their time. Most would probably be disgusted, and it would probably be categorized as extremely immoral, pointless. Throughout time the role of women has changed, women are no longer restricted to the role of conservative, cooking and cleaning housewives. The role a woman plays in society has evolved to such a dynamic mold, those who stay true to the ‘old fashioned’ ways, and those who have come to chose who they want to be, and what roles they would like to play in society.