Between the years of 1937 and 1960,LIFE underwent changes involving the portrayal of the genders. In popular literature, stereotypes and views of certain subjects are often displayed for future study. In the case of gender differences, advertisements and articles yield the best portrayal of gender stereotyping of the time. The following issues of LIFE magazine were used in this paper: January-February 1937, January-February 1945, January-February 1952, and January-February 1960. At the end of the Great Depression in 1937, women had a very simple stereotype in the popular media. They were portrayed as staying home, cleaning, cooking, and mothering. The only pictures of women in LIFE were of housewives doing some sort of domestic work. Men were portrayed exactly the opposite, out at social functions or at some sort of important occupation. One of the first ads in the magazine was an advertisement for Colgate toothpaste. It pictured a girl in college complaining to her roommate that no one likes her and she is quitting school, “I should have never gone to college”. She then goes to her dean to quit and realizes she has bad breath. The dentist gives her Colgate and soon she has a date for the prom. “I love college now.” This cartoon advertisement seems to imply that in 1937, women went to college to get married. Most of the other articles involving women were ones that involved housework. Every last one of the cleaning and food advertisements had a pretty lady in a dress holding the item. Moreover, if there was a man in the picture, he was either getting food at the dinner table or sick in bed with his wife nursing him back to health. All of these articles implied the same thing: women stayed in the house and took care of all the domestic activities. Some ads did portray women outside the home. One cigarette ad had both a man and a woman on it. The Camel man was a cowboy, watching his herd, the Camel woman was a pretty young secretary busy at her typewriter. There was obviously a clear division of labor in 1937. Finally there was an popular art series exhibited in LIFE in January. The article was written about a series of murals painted of the depression. All the men in the paintings were working hard, carrying mailbags, building a house, farm work, and other hard labor jobs. The women were s...
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.... Less and less of the advertisements pictured women in a traditional dress. Also, while most of the articles in the previous issues had been about men, the 1960 issue was written as much about female accomplishments as it was about men’s. Concerning changes in male gender roles, one article titled, “New Roles in the Household” described instances of men tending to the house, cooking cleaning, and the kids, while the mother was out at work. In addition, one of the cover stories was of the US women’s Olympic ski team. Attitudes were changing by the early 1960’s. Women were not conforming to the past gender stereotypes. Instead, they were inventing a new one, which continues to further change today.
Gender roles changed a lot in this century and popular literature like LIFE magazine changed with it. At first women had a set role in the house, expected to tend to the house and children and not pursue careers of their own. Thirty years later men and women had changed the way they lived life as a gender. Popular magazine articles provided a good illustration of what we were like culturally seventy years ago, and how we have changed today.
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