Gender Roles, History, Family – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – by Abbey DeLisle. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
There is no doubt that things were much different in 1948 compared to 2017. My maternal grandmother was in high school from 1948-1952, during the height of the domestic scene for women in America. No boys were found in sewing or cooking classes, boys and girls had gym class separately, girls wore dresses to school every day (no shorts allowed for girls!), and only boys were allowed to take auto mechanic class. Although very irritating to me, pretty predictable. But my grandma elaborated on many more things and informed me that boys took typing along with girls and girls had shop class for 8 weeks. How intriguing! Just as I was condescending the 1950s for sexism, conversation allowed me to see complications I had never thought about before.
Moving on to the next generation, my mother, I thought I had it all figured out. My mother went to high school from 1977-1981, a time I forgot was also much different than the current time. My mom informed me that gym class was still separated by gender, boys didn’t take sewing, shorts at school was not allowed for girls, and girls didn’t take auto mechanics. Arbitrarily it appears, girls had to take foundry (shop, gardening, and woodworking), basically what is taught to boys and girls in current curriculum. My grandma jumped in and said she was shocked when my mother didn’t make my father’s lunch everyday like she had, and admitted she made her daughters clean every Saturday but not her son. I was beginning to see the distance that time and societal changes had created between the generations.
In the 1950s, it was largely assumed that the women’s place was in the home and they “didn’t talk about that stuff” (referring to social issues). But as easily as I forgot about the struggles of sexism in the 70s and 80s, my mother didn’t question the norms. We take for granted how far we have come but yet we stand in the same place as our predecessors still, unless we continue to discuss societal issues that need to change.
Abbey DeLisle, NSR Staff Writer, is a Junior Biology and Peace & Justice double major; The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, Class of 2018
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Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
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