Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Fifties: A Women's Oral History

This book by Brett Harvey is enlightening, informative, and alternately entertaining and horrifying. Told heavily through the author's interviews with women who were coming of age in the 1950s, you get a broad picture of what life was like for the fair sex at that time. Talk about repression! I'm on the conservative side, but the way women at that time were forced to regard their sexualities and their personalities is sickening. Granted, I knew life during the 50s wasn't really like a rerun of Leave It To Beaver, but the misogyny that pervaded the culture, that was taken for granted by men and unthinkingly swallowed by women... It's definitely inspiring of righteous indignation - right up until you picture yourself living in a time like that, and then it's just scary. The way brilliant women were forced to turn their back on higher education, how society brainwashed them into thinking that they could only fulfill their purpose as women if they sacrificed their lives to the household and their husband's career, how anyone who was different was made to feel that they were wrong or less of a women...

This book is stylistically very easy to read, scholarly authoritative but simply written. A large amount of it is told through the words of the interview subjects. For a unique view on a fascinating decade, check out The Fifties: A Women's Oral History.

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