Parallels-SarahBeth Rogers

I really loved this week’s coursework and learning about traditional gender roles of the 1950s. While watching both the I Love Lucy episode and the Honeymooners, I kept thinking about the community in which I was raised in and its parallels to the sitcoms. I grew up in a very traditional community filled with many well-oiled breadwinner-housewife machines, and though these machines have more mutual respect for each other now then they did then, I kept seeing many similarities.

For example, while watching Ricky and Fred try to cook while Lucy and Ethel tried working, I was reminded of the babysitting I do at home. Often times, when the moms go out of town for the day, I have to stay not just until the dads get home from work, but until the supper is cooked and the kids are clean. It isn’t always because the dads cannot do it, but because their wives like to make sure their husbands are taken care of in return for their work and devotion to the family. I also thought about how my friends and I were raised. We helped with housework, while our brothers  helped with the lawn. Marriage instead of college or going straight to the workforce for the local women is pretty normal. However, I grew up in a rural community, and there were not very many opportunities for women unless they enjoyed working in a grove and getting dirty everyday, like the men do. Being the traditional housewife was justified. I would hope, though, that, if we were raised in a more urban community, many of my friends would be more open to opportunities outside of the traditional. Although it is encouraging to see many gender stereotypes dissolve in modern sitcoms, these older sitcoms are still so valuable to use as comparisons.

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2 Responses to Parallels-SarahBeth Rogers

  1. I also enjoyed learning about the gender roles in the 1950s and how several sitcoms elucidated those roles. It was especially interesting for me not only to learn about families such as the Cleavers from Leave it to Beaver, who represented this stereotypical white-collar family adhering strictly to gender roles, but also to observe sitcoms such as The Honeymooners, which depicted less functional family dynamics, a failure to adhere to the established gender roles, and the subsequent consequences. That is, Ralph’s wife constantly verbally chastises him and he is ostracized by those who know of his public failures simply because he is not able to serve as an adequate breadwinner for his family – which, at the time, was the role that the familial male had to play. I found it interesting to understand how dire the consequences were for not adhering to established gender norms. If we think about today’s society, a male’s inability to serve as the familial breadwinner is not a total catastrophe, as men have gained increasing flexibility to not adhere strictly to the established gender roles. It’s interesting to see how much of a shift this is from what used to be the culture surrounding gender norms, which was exemplified through sitcom television.

  2. This was an extremely interesting blog post, and I like how you made reference to your life at home. It is evident that in the 50’s and 60’s audiences were drawn to sit-coms that featured traditional families. Why do you think that the interest of an audience is now changing, and they are drawn to other shows like Modern Family and such?
    — Sam Beckerman

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