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The Psychological Power of the Media to Trap Women in A Role. The power of advertising to change, shape and mold the public's opinion has had a major impact on the lives of women. Women are the main target for many advertisements and are used in many forms of advertising. The media has historically used propaganda to define who women are and what they should be. The time period following WWII maybe one of the greatest examples of how completely media can control the ideas of the society on a specific group of people.
During WWII women were encouraged to go out to factories and work to support the war effort. This gave women a sense of need and belonging that many had been left out of before they had the opportunity to persue any type of career in an acceptable manner. With the men away at war, women were encouraged to find work outside the home due to a lack of factory workers who could produce war goods. Once the war ended, however, this propaganda not only stopped- it abruptly changed.
Once the men were back in the states there was an excess of workers. Men came back form war to find that there were no jobs or that their wives were occupying them. With production plummeting after war time highs there were few jobs to offer the men returning home. This started a media blitz on women. Women were encouraged to return to the home and take care of their families. Women's magazines were overflowing with ideas on how to make a perfect wife and mother. It was obvious that if you weren't happy making your family your job, there was something wrong with you as a woman.
The problem was that women were unhappy; President Kennedy commissioned a report on the he status of the American Woman due to the magnitude of this problem (Schneir 38-47). The report basically said that women were unhappy with the idea that they were fundamentally only responsible for being wives, mothers and homemakers; they had nothing they could associate as their own accomplishments.
Another study came out in 1963; it was called The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.
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Chapkis, Wendy. beauty secrets. Southend Press, USA. copyright, 1986.
Covell, Katherine and Kyra Lanis. Sex Roles. "Images of Women in Advertisements: Effects on Attitudes Related to Sexual Aggression." vol.32, 639-49, 1993.
Schneir, Miriam. Feminism In Our Time. Vintage Original Press, N.Y.. 1994.