What is a Wife? Reconstructing Domesticity in postwar Britain before The Feminine Mystique

Journal article


Beaumont, C (2015). What is a Wife? Reconstructing Domesticity in postwar Britain before The Feminine Mystique. History of Women in the Americas. 3, pp. 61-76. https://doi.org/10.14296/hwa.v3i0.2186
AuthorsBeaumont, C
Abstract

This article investigates the relationship between the lived experiences of housewives in 1950s and early 1960s Britain and their portrayal in The Feminine Mystique and popular women’s magazines. Through a study of four housewives’ associations, the Women’s Institutes, Mothers’ Union, Townswomen’s Guilds and the National Council of Women, it is argued that they rejected the prevailing ideology of domesticity and challenged the myth of the ‘happy housewife’. As a result housewives’ associations presented a modern interpretation of domesticity where wives and mothers not only cared for their husbands and children but also made an important contribution to wider society. As equal citizens women were entitled to state support and housewives’ associations were successful in articulating the demands of women as wives, mothers and paid employees. In doing so housewives’ associations presented a much more nuanced account of women’s everyday lives illustrating that not all women succumbed to the feminine mystique.

KeywordsHousewives, 1950s, The Feminine Mystique, Women's history
Year2015
JournalHistory of Women in the Americas
Journal citation3, pp. 61-76
PublisherSociety for the History of Women in the Americas
ISSN2042-6348
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.14296/hwa.v3i0.2186
Web address (URL)http://journals.sas.ac.uk/hwa/article/view/2186
Publication dates
Print01 Sep 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Sep 2016
Publisher's version
License
Accepted author manuscript
License
Permalink -

https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/87610

Download files


Publisher's version
2186-3276-1-PB.pdf
License: CC BY 4.0


Accepted author manuscript
  • 97
    total views
  • 125
    total downloads
  • 3
    views this month
  • 3
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Post-War Societies: Great Britain and Ireland
Beaumont, C. (2021). Post-War Societies: Great Britain and Ireland . 1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopaedia of the First World War .
Women’s Organisations, Active Citizenship, and the Peace Movement: New Perspectives on Female Activism in Britain, 1918-1939
Beaumont, C. (2020). Women’s Organisations, Active Citizenship, and the Peace Movement: New Perspectives on Female Activism in Britain, 1918-1939. Diplomacy & Statecraft. 31 (4), pp. 697-721. https://doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2020.1842063
Women in Parliament from 1918-2020
Beaumont, C. (2020). Women in Parliament from 1918-2020.
Women in Public Life
Beaumont, C. (2020). Women in Public Life. in: Jolly, M. and Russell, P. (ed.) Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights The British Library.
Networks as ‘laboratories of experience’: exploring the life cycle of the suffrage movement and its aftermath in Ireland 1870–1937
Beaumont, C., Clancy, Mary and Ryan, L. (2020). Networks as ‘laboratories of experience’: exploring the life cycle of the suffrage movement and its aftermath in Ireland 1870–1937. Women's History Review. 29 (6), pp. 1054-1074. https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2020.1745414
The Transnational Women’s Suffrage Movement: how the vote was won in the USA, 1848-1920
Beaumont, C (2018). The Transnational Women’s Suffrage Movement: how the vote was won in the USA, 1848-1920. Adam Matthew.
Reference to Women's Place in the Home must be removed from Constitution
Beaumont, C (2018). Reference to Women's Place in the Home must be removed from Constitution. Irish Times.
After the Vote: Women, citizenship and the campaign for gender equality in the Irish Free State 1922-1943
Beaumont, C (2018). After the Vote: Women, citizenship and the campaign for gender equality in the Irish Free State 1922-1943. in: Ryan, L and Ward, M (ed.) Irish Women and the Vote: Becoming Citizens Dublin, Ireland Irish Academic Press.
What do women want? Housewives’ associations, activism and changing representations of women in the 1950s
Beaumont, C (2017). What do women want? Housewives’ associations, activism and changing representations of women in the 1950s. in: Tinkler, P, Spencer, S and Langhamer, C (ed.) Women in Fifties Britain: A New Look London Routledge.
Housewives and Citizens: Encouraging Active Citizenship in the Print Media of Housewives' Associations during the Interwar Years
Beaumont, C (2017). Housewives and Citizens: Encouraging Active Citizenship in the Print Media of Housewives' Associations during the Interwar Years. in: DiCenzo, M, Clay, C, Green, B and Hackney, F (ed.) Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain: the Interwar Period Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press.
The Mothers' Union and the Women's Movement: a history of female activism 1876-2017
Beaumont, C (2017). The Mothers' Union and the Women's Movement: a history of female activism 1876-2017. Families First.
Fighting for the Privileges of Citizenship: The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), feminism and the women's movement, 1928-1945
Beaumont, C (2014). Fighting for the Privileges of Citizenship: The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), feminism and the women's movement, 1928-1945. Women's History Review. 23 (3), pp. 463 - 479. https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2013.820600
What Do Women Want? Housewives' Associations, Activism and Changing Representations of Women in the 1950s
Beaumont, C (2016). What Do Women Want? Housewives' Associations, Activism and Changing Representations of Women in the 1950s. Women's History Review. 26 (1), pp. 147-162. https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2015.1123029