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.