June 05, 2004

Rosie The Riveter-The Beginning or the End of Family?

By Fred H. Arm
Recently, Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) announced that legislation honoring the 6 million women who made history by creating the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. The bill passed in the House honoring the important home contributions made by American women to the Allied victory in World War II. The women learned skilled jobs previously reserved for men, earned 'men's' wages, and gained a new independence. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing, history will ultimately reveal.

Before this historic event, women were almost exclusively in the home. Prior to the marriage, women could only work as secretaries, nurses, maids, cooks, etc. The professions were almost totally devoid of women. Women were getting ready to become housewives and mothers, not to strive for careers in the work world. Work as we knew it was the responsibility of men and caring for the home was the province of women. Life was simple. These were the rules and had been so for thousands of years.

Children were almost exclusively cared for by their mothers. When a child came home from school, he/she knew that Mom would be there, providing cookies and milk, enforcing their rambunctiousness, and dispatching them to their household chores. When Dad came home there usually was a hot meal waiting him, which he ate with the rest of the family. These roles were clearly defined and few people ever questioned them.

Along came World War II and the new 'Rosies' built tanks and ships, working as welders, machinists, mechanics, pipe fitters, electricians, and boilermakers. Their men were off to war in Europe and Asia and could not really complain that much. Dramatically, this shift gave permission to millions of housewives to explore other options rather than be elbow deep in dirty diapers and dishes. Women slowly ventured into the sacrosanct professions of law, medicine, politics, and business.

Soon the trickle became a flood and a full bloom feminist revolution was launched. In the sixties, the momentum carried to the rebellious youth culture spawning the sexual and drug revolution. Everything was turned upside down. Roles were reversed, women burned their bras, people chanted the mantras of “tune out and turn on”. Inflation soon raised its ugly head and people quickly realized that if they wanted their own homes to achieve the good life, it was essential that husband and wife both needed to work

Now the children either have no one at home when they return from school, go to day care, or a baby-sitter oversees their activities. A new kind of alienation has crept into the home. Everyone eats at different times, people do not know their own neighbors, and mobility has allowed couples to live far away from their nuclear families. Crime has reached epidemic proportions. Morality has reached an all-time low. Affluence and lack of supervision has contributed to children becoming obese and lazy. Work ethics and attitudes have left us far behind the rest of the world.

Who can we blame? Or should we blame anybody? It seems quite hopeless overall. Perhaps honoring ‘Rosie’ is really not such a great idea. Who can say? The future will play itself out depending on economic, social, and political forces yet to be realized. Humankind has historically corrected these anomalies over time, yet I wonder if it will this time around.
Or is life not so bad after all? Is this door we have passed through a “Lady or a Tiger”. Lady0rTiger.jpg

Posted by fredarm at June 5, 2004 11:14 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?