The Kitchen’s Empty!

A new woman with new freedoms? Since the 1930s, women had been encouraged to embrace their roles in both the work force and motherhood, also known as the “double burden”. Men had the ability to come home from work, prop their feet up and relax until dinner was served. Women on the other hand, were expected to come home from their job and jump into their household work such as fixing dinners, taking care of the kids, cleaning, etc. What I just described would have been a typical family dynamic. Things were starting to change by the 1960s, however. Women started to question the idea of the double burden and wonder why this heavy burden had to be solely carried on their shoulders.

The concern for who was going to fill the kitchen plagued the 1960s. Would the kitchen still in the hands of the women? Did the man need to take over the kitchen? These questions filled many news articles at the time. In “Whose Job is the Kitchen”, had readers of both genders write in telling their opinions on the issue. The men saw women as needing to stay in the kitchen. One reader saw himself as committing an injustice to his wife because by having the burden on fixing dinner for him it allowed her to show him love and consideration. These men saw their wives as having a duty not only to them but the family unit to uphold the family hearth. Another reader wrote that women “adorn the family hearth, just as flowers adorn the meadows.” This implied that women were made the house presentable and that this only a job that a woman could fulfill. However, women had a complete opposite view. Women saw themselves being trapped in the vicious cycle of traditional views. By distancing themselves from the double burden women saw this as being the new step in equalizing the sexes.

Men had time for leisure activities, women wanted this as well. Many women talked about wanting to have time for themselves and money as well. These two desires were new forms of independence women were hoping to find by breaking tradition. Money previously came into the household through the husband, but more commonly by this point women were bringing in their own paychecks. It provided women with a safety net if she and her husband were to get divorced (which happened more frequently now) whereas before she may have been left with nothing. Wives frequently complained that their husbands were stingy with what she could buy, but having her own money allowed her to make her own purchases without any repercussions.

Traditions were not going to disappear overnight in a world where this mindset has been dominate. The burning question of who will fill the kitchen was not going to be answered anytime soon either. “The World of the Contemporary: About us Women” suggested that the idea of diminishing the double burden and creating a level of equality had to be instilled in the younger generations. Adult men would have a harder time letting the idea of tradition go and that can be seen in the picture above. The men are gathered around celebrating International Women’s Day and the women are preparing the meals. Instead of celebrating their wives, they are seen celebrating for their wives.  In the 1960s women started to question why they were the only ones bearing the household work after working all day. Women during this time started to feel a new sense of independence and wanted to diminish the traditional idea of the kitchen being only a place for the woman.

This post was featured in Comrade’s Corner.

8 comments:

  1. Since I wrote about the double-burden last week, it was really interesting to read up on it in the 1960s. It’s really unfortunate that we know it doesn’t get easier for women and still won’t for a long time. Comparing your post to mine it seems that men still had the same mindset in the 60s. You did a great job at explaining the new sense of independence women had and wanted more of. Great post!

  2. Great post. It’s continues to be an interesting topic of how Soviet society continued to deal with the issue of the changing role of women in society. Specifically what I liked about this post was how you noted how the changing views on what women could and could not do was also not starting to affect what people were considering acceptable for men to do as well.

  3. The double burden has always been a toll on women and as much as women wanted to create equality… it’s still a problem even today. I did like the fact that the 60s really started to question why women had to do all the work and men did nothing in regards to the household; it really was the decade for pushing equality.

  4. I find this topic very interesting! Even as Soviet society was progressing, the role of women still stayed the same. Many women needed to work to support their families, but their husbands expected them to continue their work once they returned home. After the war, women were now common place in the workforce, but their burden at home was not lifted. I really enjoyed the picture you added. I think it provides great insight into what is going on during the 1960’s for women.

  5. Your title made me laugh! I wrote about the double burden last week and I found it really interesting to read how women in culture were effected during this time period. You mentioned how traditions were not going to disappear overnight, and I think that that could not be more true considering how long the double burden has been affecting women still today, all around the world.

  6. I found this post very interesting! A few weeks ago I wrote about the double burden which was just starting at the time because women were starting to work outside of the household doing everyday jobs that the men were doing and then they were expected to come back home and do the household duties and cook. It is interesting to see how in a few decades the women were finally starting to voice their opinions on the matter and finally starting to realize that it was not fair for them to have to take on their jobs at home and at work while the men could relax when they got home. I wonder what the double burden is like in Russia today? I still see it in the United States in many households that the women goes to work and comes home and does the cooking and cleaning, but the men are overtime taking on more and more responsibilities in the household.

  7. This post, and the many comments, illustrate a profound continuity in Soviet social life, from the 1920s through the 1980s, which was the inability of the regime to change gender relations within the home, even as fundamental changes took place in employment, education, public life, and even culture. These deeply-rooted differences in domestic roles lasted beyond the Soviet collapse, and are probably more deeply embedded now than in the decades of communism.

  8. It’s amusing to me how we as humans can get so caught up in societal norms that we become completely reluctant to change. The fact that men believed women belonged in the kitchen because it was their way of showing them love seems ridiculous by today’s standards. I wonder how much things have changed in Russia today regarding this burden placed on women. Great post!

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