NOTES

Here Jo and Gideon are play-acting the kind of facile husband and wife relationship that would be put forward as the American ideal from the 50s clear through to the 70s.  While it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a new fantasy, the media push to put women back in their pre-war boxes was intense in the post-war years, and wore heavily on them.  This, of course, was compounded by the return of American soldiers to the work force, where old jobs could be resumed, and old gender biases could be counted on to send most of the remaining working women back home, or into “women’s professions” like secretarial work, nursing, and the like.

But after 4 years of freedom, agency and purpose, the old social restrictions were stifling.  Tranquilizer and sedative use was rampant among American women;  even moreso than among the men who had done the fighting overseas.  Tens of millions of women regularly consumed “Mommy’s little helpers” like Miltown (meprobamate), which were sold as part of a culture of feminine glamor, and were even used as a key ingredient in trendy cocktails.

Though there were always strong women in real life and in the media, the active ones in the post-war years were typically Femme Fatales, and the remainder were lionized for their ability to bear up under terrible circumstances–not to take action to end those circumstances.  Strong, active women were rarely put forward as an ideal until after the Women’s Liberation Movement of the late 60s and 70s.