Monday, May 7, 2012


Women in the Workplace, an educational film from 1944

Women building the B-24 in 1943

Change is tough for some people, as evidenced by these workplace films from the Forties. With men overseas fighting in World War II, women filled the ranks in the workplace, and Rose the Riveter became a national hero.  This unintentionally sexist film tries to guide the old foreman through the difficulties of working with sensitive, jealous females on the job. Don't worry, the war was over the following year and the social order was promptly restored. Many women still worked, of course, but you wouldn't know it from television which dutifully presided over the status quo in shows and advertisements. Decades passed, but time seemed to stand still in the workplace and the American home--or even go backward, if you believed TV.   Check out the Folgers' ads below.  Social change was inevitable, and, comfortable or not, the white male foreman in the first clip would soon have to deal with others not like him, as movements for feminism, civil rights and labor fairness took hold and changed the face of the land, not to mention the workplace.  TV was the last to know.  Programmers didn't want to offend anyone (conservatives, the Deep South, advertisers) with portrayals of minorities or women who bucked the system, and they certainly wouldn't give airtime to those critical of the "our American way of life."  Some people still live in that old TV land--"the good old days," if you believe the conservatives who are trying to turn back the clock to a simpler time when people "knew their place." 

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