I’ve recently realised that most of my blog posts have been about masculinity and ignored femininity. As half of my PhD looks at women I feel it’s probably time to address this. I’m going to start by looking at an extract from good housekeeping in 1929, which said women and girls should
“keep the idea of getting married in the front of her head. No women who has ever achieved success in a business career is ever happy. The feminine nature craves masculine love and affection. Buried n each woman’s heart is the desire for a home of her own and fr children … no girls can take a course of life against nature an find contentment. The happiest women in the world are those who cheerfully fulfil their natural destiny and get husbands and homes of their own with children in them”
Obviously Good Housekeeping thinks women should be ‘in the home’. This was quite a common view prior in the 1920s (and the surrounding decades). The notion of public and private spheres was well established. Men should be the face of business and should operate in public, girls should keep to the private sphere, remain in the house and be the guardian of the family. Of course there were some exceptions to this, within the predominantly immigrant, impoverished, Jewish East End for instance many women worked to supplement their husbands income or on occasion to provide the main income. Largely however, the notions of the public and private were very much entrenched within feminine expectations.
A cover of the US version of good housekeeping magazine from 1930