[Modern conservative nostalgia] about the ‘50s is fascinating, because […] I think people who do so very selectively pick out what they like about that era. So if you went back and there were traditional gender roles, where the husband works and the wife stays home and takes care of the family — why is that possible? This is an era in which union levels are at an all-time high. This is an era in which the economy is greatly expanded under Eisenhower, the New Deal state, and the top tax bracket is 92-94 percent. There is a lot on the policy side that makes that familial relationship possible that we just don’t think about.
–Kevin Kruse on cafeteria history.
Sorry for the choppy-uppy quote, but the article it comes from is edited… uh. A bit loosely, shall we say?
Basically, Kruse here is saying that modern nostalgia for mid-twentieth century “traditional” gender roles–“man work, wife cook” stuff–ignores all the social conditions that made those roles possible. It even ignores the fact that at the time those social conditions didn’t extend to all families, and those families who didn’t enjoy said conditions were also those least likely to have the sort of 1950s whitebread suburban households we associate with the era. Ref. rural families, poor families, and, in particular, poor families of colour. Women from all of these demographics have pretty much always been in the workforce due to financial or practical necessity.
In other words, you can’t have 1950s style patriarchy without the welfare state to back it up. Go figure.