Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Was WWII Propaganda Responsible for Inequalities in Domestic Responsibilities?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Was WWII Propaganda Responsible for Inequalities in Domestic Responsibilities?

The Magazine War Guide for June-July 1943, outlines the ways in which women should respond to the call to patriotic duty to "fill the shoes of any men who have left those occupations which are necessary to the life and well being of the civilian population." One concern addressed is finding time for housework when full time jobs are taken. "What's the first objection to a housewife's taking a war job? A very real one. She says: 'How can I get my housework done, and still have eight hours left in which to work at a war job?' It is an objection that must be met."

"Advice as to how a woman can streamline her housekeeping, in order to do it in four hours a day before or after she goes to work, is very much needed...What things can be skimped without damage to health and fitness, what shortcuts there are to the daily or weekly routine under emergency conditions, how to make and manage a schedule that will not overtire the woman who does a full day's work outside her home - all these are subjects to which the women's and home magazines can contribute much."

Does the responsibility women took on during WWII, being both full-time workers and homemakers, have anything to do with the inequality in domestic responsibilities today? Although there was a call for women to leave the workforce and go back to being housewives after the war, is it possible that the messages of WWII created a cycle of these inequalities even when both husband and wife are part of the labor force? If women were called to "fill the shoes of men", why is it that men have not helped fill the shoes of women?


Blogger A. Mattson said...

Very nice images, and a thoughtful post.

As long as we remain an essentially patriarchal society wartime will be a celebration of traditional culture and traditional gender roles will be stretched to fit the new jobs required by a nation at war.

If the military started to recruit large numbers of women for combat then you might see the government creating a campaign aimed at getting men to fill their shoes. Maureen Honey's article shows how traditional ideas about gender were mobilized to sell non-traditional behavior for the duration.

3/13/2006 10:19 PM  

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