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17-11-2011
  106
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rosiecheeks's Avatar
 
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I really really think that y'all have a 'romantic' look on the 50s, I had a talk with my gran the other day and asked her how she felt during that time (she was in her early thirties then). She told me that really, it wasn't at all oppressive. Perhaps it was different in the US (I'm from Europe) but people (and I mean women and men) were perhaps not equals but sitting at home and just watching the children wasn't her everyday life at all! She had her job and her girlfriends and there certainly wasn't any social standard that told her that she was second class.

Again, perhaps it WAS different in the States, but I also feel that the image of the 'oppressing 50s' is also a means to 'justify' the weirdness that was going on in the 60s (which wasn't that shocking either, according to my dad, my mum was in different circles). But perhaps it would be better to rephrase and talk about the 50s in the States, instead of making it look yet again, like the US is the only civilised place in the world?

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17-11-2011
  107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosiecheeks View Post
I really really think that y'all have a 'romantic' look on the 50s, I had a talk with my gran the other day and asked her how she felt during that time (she was in her early thirties then). She told me that really, it wasn't at all oppressive. Perhaps it was different in the US (I'm from Europe) but people (and I mean women and men) were perhaps not equals but sitting at home and just watching the children wasn't her everyday life at all! She had her job and her girlfriends and there certainly wasn't any social standard that told her that she was second class.

Again, perhaps it WAS different in the States, but I also feel that the image of the 'oppressing 50s' is also a means to 'justify' the weirdness that was going on in the 60s (which wasn't that shocking either, according to my dad, my mum was in different circles). But perhaps it would be better to rephrase and talk about the 50s in the States, instead of making it look yet again, like the US is the only civilised place in the world?
I think it's true in all places that some people are more conscious of 'oppression' than others.

Take Ray Eames for example. All the evidence points to her being happy, creative, and fulfilled. Nonetheless, it's quite clear that Charles took the credit for her work (and a lot of other people's too). Was she oppressed? Maybe not. Was she treated as an equal, was she treated fairly, in terms of getting credit for her ideas and work? Not a chance.

Now I wasn't alive in the 50s, but I can look around right now and see that women aren't equal to men, and that is worldwide. And you could refer to not equal as second class.

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18-11-2011
  108
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^Well, women have never been equal to men (no matter what people claim). But I think what makes the 50's particularly alarming is how naive people seemed about it. I think that at other times people, women in particular, saw that they were being oppressed (not always but lot's did) but in the 50's it just seems like they were so ignorant of it. Women lived in a world with a nice house, husband, and 2.5 kids. But they were completely stifled in a way. I mean to go from WWII where women were part of the war effort to being back at home, it's completely degrading.
I mean, my granny was part of the WAC's (Women's Army Corps in the US) during WWII. She did her part for her country. But then after the war she settled down, married, and raised three kids. I don't know if it was completely her choice or if she felt compelled to do so by society. I think it might have been a mixture of the two. But still, I have to wonder, how did this affect her life? It must have because the granny that I know isn't like the granny that people tell me she was like. I think beginning a family in the 50's really impacted her. She felt tied down. I mean she traveled a lot with my granddad but other then that, what did she do? I can't even imagine it. It must have been so boring after living abroad and taking part in the war effort.
Also, from a literary standpoint I think Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar certainly had an impact on women when it was published in the 1960's. Women who had lived in the 50's really resonated with Plath's novel. There is one quote which has stood out to me every time I read it and probably encapsulates how a lot of women felt in the 50's;
"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet."

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18-11-2011
  109
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I think it's a bit ignorant to assume that women were blind towards how they were treated. I mean, just because women were portrayed as happy homemakers in the 1950s media doesn't mean that they all were.

I find the interpretation of the 1950s as a decade where the majority of women were unhappy homemakers to be problematic, because it ignores the experiences of women who weren't urban (or suburban), white, upper/middle class, married, homemakers, etc. I think that by ignoring their stories the true story of women in the 1950s is being simplified.

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20-11-2011
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I find the idea that it's 'regressive' to conform to traditional femininity or sex appeal to be a contrary one. Sexual power and the ability to capitalise on one's looks are essentially female privileges. If a woman dresses to attract men, obviously she is doing it because attracting the male attention is what SHE wants. Obviously that could not have applied during times where women were discriminated against, but today that kind of oppression is no longer a factor in the Western world.

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20-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueorchid View Post
I think it's a bit ignorant to assume that women were blind towards how they were treated. I mean, just because women were portrayed as happy homemakers in the 1950s media doesn't mean that they all were.

I find the interpretation of the 1950s as a decade where the majority of women were unhappy homemakers to be problematic, because it ignores the experiences of women who weren't urban (or suburban), white, upper/middle class, married, homemakers, etc. I think that by ignoring their stories the true story of women in the 1950s is being simplified.
I agree, and I also find it problematic the way the 50's (or any patriarchal era) is simplified into a time where men had freedom and women didn't. Men were just as pressured to conform to the male standard by being breadwinners in lucrative careers, the heads of the household, suppressing the unmanly aspects of their personality, etc. Men were given more breadth in society, but the flip side of this is that they also had greater expectations. When people make a case for the repression of women they also usually point toward the most successful percentile of society, ignoring the fact that far more males have always comprised the criminal system, the homeless, and the early death rates, etc.

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20-11-2011
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Perhaps it was also just simply the outcome from the war. In turbulent times, all people seem to crave for is stability. A nice house, a wife, some kids a dog and a car; what could be better than that compared to the things men had seen in Europe? So when people actually came to live in that fantasy it wasn't enough and it bred a whole new society. What is actually wrong with that? Accept history, you cannot change the facts right ?

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20-11-2011
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I don't really understand why you have to like the philosophy behind the clothes you wear. Isn't it enough that they have an aesthetic appeal?

I like 30s fashions - does that mean that I like fascism? Not so much.

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20-11-2011
  114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosiecheeks View Post
Perhaps it was also just simply the outcome from the war. In turbulent times, all people seem to crave for is stability. A nice house, a wife, some kids a dog and a car; what could be better than that compared to the things men had seen in Europe? So when people actually came to live in that fantasy it wasn't enough and it bred a whole new society. What is actually wrong with that? Accept history, you cannot change the facts right ?
But are those really the "facts"?

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20-11-2011
  115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvjeisa View Post
I don't really understand why you have to like the philosophy behind the clothes you wear. Isn't it enough that they have an aesthetic appeal?

I like 30s fashions - does that mean that I like fascism? Not so much.
Of course you don't have to, and good for you for doing so. But fashion, like everything, is open to interpretation. Where you see the simpleness of the aesthetic, others will see fascism. It's just how things work.

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20-11-2011
  116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvjeisa View Post
I don't really understand why you have to like the philosophy behind the clothes you wear. Isn't it enough that they have an aesthetic appeal?

I like 30s fashions - does that mean that I like fascism? Not so much.
I definitely don't think of fascism when I think of the 30s ... I think of people creating beauty in the face of deprivation. Now Wagner, that makes me think of fascism

I think there is an attitude and philosophy behind the clothes I wear (and probably everyone else too), but it is MY attitude and philosophy. I certainly like to wear designers whom I like and who I know appreciate and respect women. Many are a mixed bag, though ... what ultimately matters is my own intentions. And irony is certainly sometimes in the mix

I also think that what matters most at the end of the day is my own opinion. What others think is really their problem. That said, I don't wear anything that would lead anyone to mistake me for a call girl (or variation on the theme).

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08-12-2011
  117
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This is a really interesting thread, and I agree with the many (and even opposing) viewpoints on here, one after another!

I wonder how much of the '50s silhouette/"lady-like" look gaining popularity is a mix of influence from TV shows like Mad Men/Pan Am/Playboy Club's nostalgia, the economic woes of the last few years (researchers often point to hem lines changing during economic hardship or expansion), and the basic fact that the general look is novel to many people after decades of denim, short Herve Leger bandage dresses, and other looks.

Perhaps it's more of a pendulum swing in the opposite direction, shifting away from tight mini skirts and triple-platform heels, and towards a lowered hemline (the midi-length slightly looser pencil skirt) or a full-waisted skirt (the New Look full skirt '40s/'50s skirts we've seen lately).

While I love all of the meaning that many of you are ascribing to clothing, and I agree on some level with much of it, I wonder if the average 20-30-something is mostly thinking, "Ooo, that looks different than what I've been seeing--I like it!"

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08-12-2011
  118
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^ The average person is probably barely thinking at all 'The meaning of fashion' I would be willing to bet has never crossed the average person's mind We are an odd lot here, let's face it

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09-12-2011
  119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkGoddess View Post
I find the idea that it's 'regressive' to conform to traditional femininity or sex appeal to be a contrary one. Sexual power and the ability to capitalise on one's looks are essentially female privileges. If a woman dresses to attract men, obviously she is doing it because attracting the male attention is what SHE wants. Obviously that could not have applied during times where women were discriminated against, but today that kind of oppression is no longer a factor in the Western world.
That is a double edged sword of the most dangerous sort, what you desrcibe as a priviledge. Sexual power is contingent power, it isn't autonomous. It is reliant on the gaze and approval of another. This power fades too. Witness how difficult it is for women past a certain age to get good work in films, for example. That power is fleeting. Superficial.

YoninhAliza loved your Plath quote; it was brilliant.

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09-12-2011
  120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Not Plain Jane View Post
That is a double edged sword of the most dangerous sort, what you desrcibe as a priviledge. Sexual power is contingent power, it isn't autonomous. It is reliant on the gaze and approval of another. This power fades too. Witness how difficult it is for women past a certain age to get good work in films, for example. That power is fleeting. Superficial.

YoninhAliza loved your Plath quote; it was brilliant.
Yes, but that describes all powers (except power over oneself). They rely on the approval or esteem of others and tend to reach a peak at some point in one's life.

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