Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in the Postwar America, 1945-1960 / Edition 1

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In the popular stereotype of post-World War II America, women abandoned their wartime jobs and contentedly retreated to the home. These mythical women were like the 1950s TV character June Cleaver, white, middle-class, suburban housewives. Not June Cleaver unveils the diversity of postwar women, showing how far women departed form this one-dimensional image.

This collection of fifteen revisionist essays charts new directions in American women's history and provides connections to scholarship that, until recently, has focused primarily on the years before 1945 and after 1960. The contributors explore the work and activism of postwar American women and also point to the contradictions and ambiguities in postwar concepts of gender.

Including examinations of such aspects of postwar women's history as the arrival of Chinese women immigrants in New York City; women's changing presence in the labor force and in union organization; and the precarious lives of women abortionists, lesbians, and single mothers, the authors effectively demonstrate how postwar women's identities were not only an expression of their gender but also of their class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, occupation, and politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Not June Cleaver reconsiders the roles of women as mothers, workers, activists, unionists and pacifists and read together these fine essays signify a systematic devaluation of women that eventually manifested itself in the coming of age of the women's movement."
Publishers Weekly

"An astonishingly successful effort to rewrite the history of American women in the postwar era... [that] challenges well-established interpretations of postwar gender ideology, shows how gender politics were integral to Cold War politics, and complicates and deepens our understanding of postwar women...—working and middle-class, Chicana, white, black, and Asian...and essential text for historians of the Cold War and postwar gender politics"
George Chauncey, University of Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566391719
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Series: Critical Perspectives on the past Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 928,116
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960 1
2 When Women Arrived: The Transformation of New York's Chinatown 19
3 An "Obligation to Participate": Married Nurses' Labor Force Participation in the 1950s 37
4 Recapturing Working-Class Feminism: Union Women in the Postwar Era 57
5 Women's Employment and the Domestic Ideal in the Early Cold War Years 84
6 Gender and Progressive Politics: A Bridge to Social Activism of the 1960s 103
7 Mayhem and Moderation: Women Peace Activists during the McCarthy Era 128
8 "Is Family Devotion Now Subversive?": Familialism against McCarthyism 151
9 Gender and Civic Activism in Mexican American Barrios in California: The Community Service Organization, 1947-1962 177
10 "Our Skirts Gave Them Courage": The Civil Defense Protest Movement in New York City, 1955-1961 201
11 Beyond the Feminine Mystique: A Reassessment of Postwar Mass Culture, 1946-1958 229
12 "I Wanted the Whole World to See": Race, Gender, and Constructions of Motherhood in the Death of Emmett Till 263
13 White Neurosis, Black Pathology: Constructing Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy in the Wartime and Postwar United States 304
14 Extreme Danger: Women Abortionists and Their Clients before Roe v. Wade 335
15 The Sexualized Woman: The Lesbian, the Prostitute, and the Containment of Female Sexuality in Postwar America 358
16 The "Other" Fifties: Beats and Bad Girls 382
About the Contributors 409
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