Sisterhood in the '60s: Joan, Peggy, and a Feminist Awakening
The period between World War II and the women's liberation movement was marked by palpable tension over social changes and gender ideology-an aspect of the postwar era well-known to historians but usually overlooked in the mass media. Television shows such as Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963), Father Knows Best (1954-1960), and The Adventures ofOzzie and Harriet (1952-1966) imagined a time that never existed, presenting the nation's women as domestic and suburban, happily embracing their roles as homemakers and submitting to their husband's authority (Coontz, 2000). This idyllic media memory, bequeathed to subsequent generations by reruns of these popular shows, has encouraged a tendency to view the feminist activism of the late 1960s and 1970s as a paradigmatic shift rather than a predictable development. But as historians and cultural critics have noted, social movements do not give birth to themselves (Douglas, 1995; Gitlin, 1987; Evans, 1980). This acknowledgment runs through Mad Men, giving the narrative a sophisticated complexity as it unpacks the antecedents of second-wave feminism.
This book chapter is from Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (2014), 69. Posted with permission.