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English 1s Essay

Gladys Carbajal Aguilar

Susie Huerta

November 7, 2017

In the 1950s we see the stereotypes of the male being the breadwinner of the house and

the mother stays home and cooks for the family. The myth of a heteorsexual household with

kids and a dog are seen throughout this time period. Nostalgia has grown amongst those who

miss an era without change, oppression, and fixed mindsets that get influenced and manipulated

on the daily. Gender roles have influenced and currently still influence how many families

perceive the myth of a Model family, by molding perspectives, and allowing change to occur in

the “definition” of it. Gender Roles have not been the main focus of society today, but have not

diminished all the way, as time has passed, we have continued to see change in it's name.

Gender roles in the 1950s were your stereotypical roles, roles that many have been

confirmed to either by society telling them to or our family influencing us to believe that it's

“best” for our gender to do a certain job or task. In What We Really Miss About The 1950s

written by Stephanie Coontz she states to us “ When I talk with modern parents, even ones who

grew up in unhappy families, they associate the 1950s with a yearning they feel for a time when

there were fewer complicated choices for kids and parents to grapple with, when there was more

predictability in how people formed and maintained families, and when there was a coherent

“moral order” in their community to serve a reference point for family norms.” ( 25 ) By

mentioning this it makes us believe that during this time period people were scared for change

in advancing. This leads us to believe that people were too scared to advance, many got stuck in

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“our” traditional gender roles, by simply conforming to society telling them how to live their

lives, and why you should live it that way.

In the book The Good Marriage : How and Why Love Lastsby Judith Wallerstein and

Sandra Blakeslee. Wallerstein interviewed 100 spouses in “happy” marriages and she found that

only five “wanted a marriage like they're parents.” “The Husbands “consciously rejected the role

models provided by their fathers.” Examining this first part of the quote we see the breaking

away from Gender Roles. Many might have rejected the roles provided by their fathers because

they saw the mistreatment in women back at that time and were conscious enough to realize that

it wasn't and currently is not ok to treat someone less because of their gender. In the other part of

the quote they say “ The women said they could never be happy living as their mothers did.”

(26) This comes to show that many women probably opinionated that way about how they

wouldn't want to live the life their mothers had because they saw the oppression and the way

many women were treated back then, which comes to show that women wanted to break away

from the mistreatment either men or society did to them. Men would always dominate every

aspect of life, where women's opinions and efforts had no effect, but if a man opened his mouth

everything was golden.

Some people have grown numb to the idea that the 1950s was a golden era because of the

way things were financially, they were able to raise a family easier, and many aspects of life

were much more convenient. However people don't see an era where fixed mindsets had grown,

and where change was seen as a bad thing because nobody wanted to be an outcast in a society

where they tried to make everyone follow the same norms. Although we see this mindset

throughout the 1950s, a decade later we began to see change in people's mindsets because many

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grew tired of following the myth of the “model” families that either surrounded them or that they

had to adapt in.

A change that began during this time was in the mindsets of many women that were able

to adapt to certain roles. Nowadays we tend to see women take on the roles that men would

typically have back then. Women are now dominating in the household as either the

breadwinner, head or both. “By 1960, more than 40 percent of women over the age of 16 held a

job, and working mothers were the fastest growing component of the labor force. The

educational aspirations and opportunities that opened up for kids of the baby boom could not be

confined to males, and many tight-knit, male-breadwinner, nuclear families in the 1950s instilled

in their daughters the ambition to be something other than a Homemaker.” ( 39 ) In the 1960s we

see a change in many people's mindset, people had come to the realization that change is

completely ok, therefore when Coontz mentions that more than 40 percent of women held a job

it is because women have been able to change their mindsets and realise that they were capable

just like men to do the same jobs they had, and carry on the same responsibilities that “belong”

to a man. Many started ripping apart from the stereotypical roles that were held in the 1950s

model family by creating change in their mindsets and being able to adapt to their surroundings

slowly and easily because they saw that conforming to their surroundings wasn't advancing them


Gender roles have become something that is constantly changing and that doesn't really

have a concrete definition defining what it officially does. There is just the societal definition of

what it does. As time has been advancing so have the minds of many, well at least we hope.

Because of the advancements we go through constantly now gender roles have slowly been

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diminishing, single parent households have become filled less with gender roles of who has to do

what, and what a certain someone has to do due to migration purposes. In a recent study put out

by the Journal on Migration and Human Security they stated “ There were 3.3 million

mixed-status households in the United States in 2014.” This impacts a change in gender roles

because it has led to responsibilities being shared amongst everyone and anyone who lives in a

household, so the idea of gender roles doesn't exist. Your stereotypical roles of women stayed

home and men work have been modified to the extent that if one parent has to migrate for

example the mom, in order to support their household then the father has to take on the role of

being a mom and dad for their children and being the head of the house while the other is gone.

Like mentioned before everyone helps out, therefore gender roles technically don't exist because

people don't depend on a certain someone instead many reach out to anyone who is available to

help them out. Unlike the myth of the model family where many just dependent on their nuclear

family for support, the breaking of gender roles now in society have led many to reach and made

it ok for families to ask their extended family for help and support. From personal experience I

have grown up with I have seen both my parents share the responsibility of taking care of each

one of my siblings, whether it's from cooking to changing diapers, there has never been a set of

responsibilities that fall for a certain gender.

The increase of help and support many need in their families has opened up portals for many

people to depend on their extended families. The reliance is so high many create networks

amongst each other therefore the dependency has led to the blur of gender roles. The important

realities that many families are facing are the change in mindset due to gender roles, and the

constant reinforcement families receive from society to adapt their way of thinking in order to fit

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in . All this has a significance because without a change in people's mindset there wouldn't be a

change in how we perceive gender roles therefore advancement would probably be very limited,

and we would be passing a fixed mindset from generation to generation leading us to nowhere in

change, and seeing those who think differently as outcasts.