The 1950’s are considered a decade of simplicity for most Americans. While the country was experiencing economic and social growth most American felt at home with them selves. Family stability was monumental, and the formation of the suburbs created an urban working class associated with a rural family atmosphere. Americans were leaving work to arrive home and be free and independent within their own ideas of security. During this period the American family was much more than just security, it was seen as the beacon of democracy, and the social glue of America.
Another idea that matched family was consumerism, and Americans where buying. Everything from cars to house decor that represented status in commercialized America. In what came to be known as the Kitchen Debates Vice-President Richard Nixon said about the American home exhibit: “You will see a house, a car, a television set-each the newest and most modern of its type we produce. But can only the rich in the United States afford such things? If this were the case we would have to include in our definition of rich the millions of America’s Wage earners.
(pg 163) Americans during 1950’s were living typical industrious lives that centered a round work, family and consumerism. The middle class was growing, and men and women were marrying not only for love but for security. Coupled with patriotism and security the role of the American home took on more than that of a house, but was the center of American strength and democracy.
A symbol of status, the home was the center of all things considered to be American; consumer goods, values, and most importantly security.
Beer, an American tradition as old as the country itself, had just been reintroduced to the American market not even twenty years early after the failure of prohibition, and its advertisements reflect the social view of the Patriotism. In a 1950’s run of advertisements by the United States Brewers foundation, that all use the catch phrase “Beer belongs…enjoy it” which is not meant to sale a specific beer, just beer itself. The advertisers show a ship entering New York harbor with the Statue of Liberty shining brightly in the background. insert ad) Yet Prohibition came about because of the negative social perception of the saloon. During earlier American periods drinking was viewed as a male dominated activity that excluded anything resembling decency. Women in the early part of the twentieth century viewed male drinking as a plague to the American household. In fact, male drinking stigmas gave rise to many women’s movements and created a culture where women often had to face the drudgery of maintaining a home and supporting the family economically.
Women’s “speak easies” and underground clubs changed the previous gender role of women as entirely innocent and pure. So when the cold-war family began to immerge, and political as well as social factors changed the dynamic of the household to a place of security, status and expression and brewing companies tried to infiltrate the home with their product. In her book Homeward Bound , Elaine Tyler May says about the American home “ The family seemed to be the one place where people could control their destinies.. ” in a time where men and women felt the fear of nuclear fall-out and economic ruin.
Since the great depression was not even twenty years behind them, and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagaski were still fresh, Americans feared much more than “fear itself. ” While women had taken over many male dominated roles during WWII, and felt to some degree emancipated, that was short lived and women had to return to their former roles. In the 1950’s women were seen as an extension to the man of the house, not only in the public eye but to themselves as well. In many cases society at large lost respect for a man who was unemployed or earned less than his better half.
In a KLS research poll it showed that while “75 pecent” believed in joint decision making, and “80 pecent” believed in a house-husband, “60 percent said they would lose respect for a husband who earned less than his wife” and “90 percent believed a wife should give up employment if her husband wanted her to do so. ”(pg 56) A magazine advertisement run by the United States Brewers foundation began to appear with the slogan “ Beer belongs…enjoy it. ” With the catchy slogan usually came pictures of families, couples, or neighbors enjoying a refreshing brew during a social activity.
Often times singing or enjoying family, with the beers appropriately placed to look elegant and natural. As in this advertisement from 1951: This advertisement represents much of America during the 1950’s. The women still hold traditional roles and were seen as an extension to the man. The woman is bringing beer to the group while her husband entertains their guest. In a 1959 Magazine advertisement for an unknown beer, a man lazily sits back in a hammock and pours a refreshing beer while the caption reads “Aren’t you glad….. she remembered the beer. Which shows how women were seen as the housewife and men were seen as the head of the house. During this period many beer advertisements usually centered a round the role of the man, and while women had gained political independence before 1920, women were still held to a double standard during the time period. In fact, women with college educations during this period were not viewed as “new age” or even educated for their own purposes. (include quote on women’s education) Women were still being viewed as second rate citizens to men, and everything reflected societies view of women.
In a KLS study held taken during the 1950’s to see how couples decided attraction between each other, one man wrote 5 “ I like particularly her size and form and think she is an attractive and sweet girl…” not saying anything about her education, decision making or overall maturity, and still referred to her as a “girl”. He continues to say….. She attracts me physically” showing the overall male chauvinist opinion during this time period. In a time when women were entering the work place, becoming politically, economically and socially dependent, beer companies still played on the role of man to sale their product.
There were advertisements that appealed to the feminine side of drinking socially. I mean, women were becoming more independent during this period even if society limited their role to the household. In a Rheingold magazine advertisement during the 1950’s trying to appeal to women, the advertisement still portrays women in a feminine and unequal light. The advertisement shows a couple leaving a social function with other couples, the man is putting the women’s coat with his eyes intently fixed on the woman, while she smiles back at the reader. A large sign in the corner reads “My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer! leading readers to believe that Rheingold is the woman’s preferred beer of choice, and lends fact to the idea that drinking socially can help men to meet women, or women to meet men. Advertisements like this were not playing only on male ideas of meeting women socially, but were also playing on the role of single women. During the 1950’s marriage rates where at there height, 66% of the population married